Det är ju alltid ett jättejobb att hålla ihop ett kollektiv
Video with sound
Courtesy the artist
From 2016 until 2019, a highly public conflict raged between the Swedish Dockworkers Union and the employer APM Terminals in the Gothenburg container port. From the workers’ perspective, the dispute, which led to a national strike and lockouts in ports across Sweden, was about working conditions and opportunities for influence in the workplace.
In Gerdes’s film, the dockworkers reflect on the conflict two years later, and also on how working in the harbor impacts their relationships with family and friends. In contrast to most of the media reports about the negotiations, Gerdes’s film features the workers’ personal stories. An underlying theme is how the specific conflict illuminates the tension between a local struggle for democracy and justice and the global system and infrastructures that encompass jobs in the harbor through multi-national corporations and flows of goods.
Video without sound
Courtesy the artist
The international networks that transport goods and data are central to our daily lives, but they are seldom seen by the public. Gerdes’s video compares the activities on Gothenburg’s loading docks, which are invisible to the public, with the daily floods of people streaming through the historical harbor district around Stenpiren, and sets these hubs in relation to other logistics sites, such as data centers and sorting facilities. The film brings together animations and simulations with images of reality. The words on the screen ask the public to consider the complex and overlapping systems and processes that play out on the sea: the infrastructure of Internet wiring beneath the surface, the container shipping companies, and the life and work of humans and animals. An underlying theme is how we encounter these global relationships on the local level, such as in passenger ferries and the development of new housing developments in coastal areas.
Benjamin Gerdes (b. 1978, USA) is an artist, writer, and organizer working in video and related public formats. His projects emerge via long-term research processes in dialogue with activists, trade unionists, architects, and geographers, among others. Exhibitions and screenings include: the Centre Pompidou (Paris), National Gallery of Art (Washington), New Museum (New York), Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Tate Modern (London). After two decades in New York City, he currently lives in Stockholm and teaches at the Royal Institute of Art.
Röda Sten Konsthall