In July 2013, sirenscrossing presented rivercities//dry along the river canyon of Göta älv at Trollhättan (Sweden). As dusk moved into darkness, the event culminated with a release of the falls and the finale of the Fallens Dagar festival.
Trollhättan is a city dramatically situated on the river at a point where a waterfall previously funnelled 300,000 litres of water per second through the narrow, steep canyon. For 100 years, humans have re-directed that force of water through giant turbines to provide hydroelectric power. A section of the canyon lies dry, except during the short summer when the falls are periodically released for tourists.
rivercities//dry sought to evoke multiple flows between humans and nature, in a specific place where nature has been reshaped to serve human industry. The idea of a waterfall that is turned off and on seems emblematic of a larger human arrogance towards the planet. And yet the Fallens Dagar festival is also a celebration of the power of the river – almost pagan in its desire to reconnect people to the primal force that drives its industry.
The piece was very difficult to video and this documentary gives only a flavour of the event. Many aspects were not recorded. At the very beginning, performers passed through the gathering crowd; approached the site from several far-flung directions along roads and pathways; stood waiting on the forest edges; climbed up the rocks; and appeared on the high cliffs opposite the power station. The piece collected and surged along both sides of the canyon, finally coalescing on the long verge between the power station and the river. Still projections – of images abstracted from photos of the machinery of the power station – illuminated the walls, factory ruins, and rocks along the width of the dry canyon. In part, the soundscore was constructed from machine sounds recorded inside the power station. Performers included six professional dancers (CAN / SWE), and a wonderful cast of local performers.
The piece was commissioned by Trollhättan city, with logistic support from N3 Culture Agency and Vattanfall power company. Additional funding was provided by: Västra Götalandsregionen; Konstnärsnämnden; Marifus; Canada Council for the Arts.
direction: Carolyn Deby
sound score: Dag Rosenqvist
lighting/still projections: Emma-Kara Nilsson
costumes: Annika Jostrand Liljevall and Jenny Emanuelsson
Jeannette R De Vreede
photographer: AnnaCarin Isaksson
technicians: Martin Klem and Cha Blasco
Trollhättan Culture: Christer Olsson
Vattenfall: Christer Götesson
N3 Culture Agency: Birgitta Berntson Ärje and Jeannette R De Vreede
video documentation: Pontus Nordahl and Carolyn Deby
video projections: Carolyn Deby
video performer: Pia Nordin
earth image: courtesy of NASA, with kind thanks also to The Planetary Collective