Silvertunga – Den stora gruvstrejken 1969-1970, 2020

Silvertunga – Den stora gruvstrejken 1969-1970, 2020
(Eng title: Silver Tongue, the Great Miners’ Strike 1969-70)

Three-channel video into one-channel, 57 min. 2020.

“Even at dusk we can reason, because here we have already seen each other in the dark. We have lived through some dark times, but now we meet in Kiruna in Svappavaara in Malmberget. At dusk we stand together!”. On December 9, 1969, the great miners’ strike broke out in the ore fields in Norrbotten. It involved 4,800 workers at LKAB’s mines in Svappavaara, Kiruna and Malmberget. The dramatic strike lasted for 57 days and the reasons for it were many: cuts, poor working conditions and unfair wages, but also the attitude of the employer and the union towards the miners. The strike was a profound blow to the Social Democratic welfare state.

For over 10 years, Ingela Johansson has worked with the history of the strike and its relationship to the radicalised cultural sphere of the post-68 years. In the three-channel video work Silver Tongue, the Great Miners’ Strike 1969–70, we bear witness to a montage of visual documentation from the strike found in the archives of Norrbotten’s Media and Kiruna municipality. The sound originates from Kenny Karlsson’s private archive, and mainly consists of his own tape recordings from the big meetings in Kiruna City Hall. Karlsson’s material is complemented with audio tapes from meetings in Malmberget, recorded by the local librarian Adolf Henriksson. The work places public speeches and collective experience at the centre, and shows how on the rostrum the speaker is always bigger than themselves, and becomes one with the sense of possibility that emanates from the crowd. The speech also emerges as its own art form in which practical struggle and lived experience are combined with poetry and dreams of a world beyond the prevailing one.

Text by Emily Fahlén Luleåbiennalen

Commissioned by ArkDes
Silver Tongue, the Great Miners’ Strike 1969-70 was made possible due to a collaboration between Norrbottens Media and its press photographers, who freelanced for various newspapers in Norrbotten to document the strike: Duff Deutgen, Rolf Ericson, Jacob Forsell, Lennart Norman, Lars Öqvist and many others who did not receive photo bylines. Kiruna Municipality has supported the work with Börje Rönnberg’s photographic works.