In the exhibition Participant Observers, Henrik Andersson completes his investigation of an area in Ursvik in northern Sundbyberg where the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), was located until 2005. Using material from, among others, the FOI art collection, the photographic collection of the Museum of Sundbyberg and the archive of the Public Art Agency Sweden, Henrik Andersson traces changes in physical as well as mental landscapes. In these times when armed conflicts seem to creep ever closer, Henrik Andersson brings to the fore FOI’s placement in Sundbyberg, its connection to the period after the Second World War and its changing social climate. In the wake of the activities of FOI, we discover art, protocols, photographs and inventories that raise questions: What role have art and artists played in the Swedish national defence? And what is the status of the Swedish peace movement today?
A wooded area the size of a small nature reserve south of Järvafältet in northern Sundbyberg, Ursvik, was until recently the location of the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI). From 1930 onwards, a branch line of the Northern Main Line carried shipments of ammunition into a large rock shelter. The area contained shooting ranges, administration offices and depots, and, most importantly, high level research was conducted there. The research included everything from the development of Swedish nuclear weapons to medical research into surgical methods of treating crush injuries. The activities were top secret and what really went on behind the fence remains shrouded in mystery. In the early 1960s, public support for the Swedish nuclear programme waned and in 1961 the first protest march against the atomic bomb in Sweden went to Ursvik. Pictures from the march are preserved in the Museum of Sundbyberg. The Swedish Defence premises in Ursvik also housed something else, an art collection, which was primarily acquired by the Public Art Agency Sweden. An art collection at a secret location – what was it doing there?
– Henrik Andersson
The exhibition Participant Observers is a part of Henrik Andersson’s Marabouparken Lab project. These serve as local collaborative projects that link artists, local actors and common spaces in Sundbyberg with the aim of enhancing our collective memory connected to sites, and hopefully, at the same time, making the current societal development emerge in a clearer light.