There was nothing else to do with the forrest

Installation made for the show Performing Labour Rejmyre Art Lab at Norrköping Konstmuseum 2018

Reijmyre Glass Factory was founded in 1810. The previous year, Sweden had been separated from Finland thus losing the Finnish glass factories. In the area around Rejmyre there was deposits of quarts and large areas of forest, with which ”there was nothing else to do”.

Until the 1950s – before the new oil fired furnaces were installed – the forest was used as firewood in order to heat up the glass furnaces. However, the relationship between the glass factory and the forest did not end there. Even today wood is still used to make moulds and different tools for glass blowing. At the same time as the wood is used to shape the glass, the hot glass burns the wood and in a way also gives it a shape.

When thinking about labour it is easy to limit it to labour performed by humans. But an industry such as the glass industry have always been dependent upon the ”labour” performed by the materials and natural resources—in themselves the result of a labour continuously performed by nature. In the glass industry the energy from the forest have provided the necessary heat to melt the glass, and wood have then been used to shape the hot glass. The initial resource, quarts, is in itself a product of geological processes that spans millions of years.

As a guest worker at Reijmyre Glass Factory, within the framework of the project Performing Labour, my interest has been to expand the understanding of the labour taking place within the factory. While the glass workers in the hot shop shapes the glass into beautiful designed objects, the tourists look at the performance of labour. However,  the labour that is required, now and historically, to make this performance possible is not contained within the walls of the factory building. It is a labour that also includes the surrounding landscape—the forest, the lakes and the bedrock.

In order to produce a glass product I have staged a series of events, starting from an old chainsaw I inherited from my grandfather.  The chainsaw was used to cut down a tree and the tree trunk was then cut into smaller pieces and split up, allowing the pieces to be turned around and assembled in a way so that the outside of the tree became the inside of a mould. When the glass then met the mould, the bark of the tree made its imprint on the surface of the glass and the hot glass burned its imprint on to the tree trunk.