Abandoned places

Around Sweden there are now plenty of abandoned sites, deserted workshops, crumbling industrial facilities, and abandoned houses, petrol stations, playgrounds and holiday villages. In his images, Jan Jörnmark shows how globalisation and the rapid growth of digital technology are changing the very look of the landscape.

The exhibition closed on August 2010.

After World War 2, Sweden enjoyed an extended period of growth. The old staple industries such as shipyards, sawmills and sugar mills once dominated many regional towns and cities and were important to the Swedish economy. But a world economy offering cheap raw materials and labour outcompeted these operations, which were rationalised, relocated or shut down. Today in these once thriving industrial towns, you see empty industrial locales, houses and parks: all that remains of a vanished community. But why do some communities die out and crumble away while others grow at record speed?

This change is largely due to the new technology of microelectronics. And it´s superfast. Those who don´t keep up as cash registers, cameras, newspapers, road maps, and more are digitized simply go under. Industry after industry is disappearing, and the entire look of the landscape is being changed as a consequence of digital technology.

A new society emerging

Another society is emerging where less than one sixth of the labour force work in what used to be called the staple or basic industries. At the same time, digital information is growing explosively, and goods are being turned over at an ever more rapid rate in a globalised economy. And it´s in the big cities where this is occurring. Where there is a market and both the creativity and innovation to manage the transformation.

This exhibition describes the development from industrial town to metropolis with over 100 of Jan Jörnmark´s evocative images.

Last updated 25 July 2023.