The Complete Story About Ljusnarsberg and the rest of the world

Artist: The Non Existent Center runs Ställberg Mine

A few years back, a group of young Swedish artists and thinkers calling themselves The Non-Existent Centre bought an abandoned mine industry and, in it, established a site for work, art and thought in Ljunarsberg, a rural municipality in Bergslagen. Since then, Ställberg´s 28 meter high mining tower forms the iconic beacon for an ongoing society research to the year 2070. The group use different formats such as performance, seminars, international residencies, festivals and exhibitions to raise ethical dilemmas often around money, migration and the power of narratives. The mine is also turned into an interdisciplinary platform for researching the human condition in strongly depopulated rural communities. The critical relationship between rapidly expanding urban conglomerations and shrinking populations in the countryside play a central role in their work, as does the notion of “migration”. Bergslagen and similar rural places are sites where some seek the tranquillity of the countryside. It is also a place where people gets relocated by the Swedish migration board after escaping war-torn homelands, and where locals try to escape the rapidly shrinking employment opportunities in depopulated areas such as this. The social-artistic research of the Non-Existent Centre is practical and closely integrated with the community. It manifests itself with the importance of sensitive listening of different experience and to give room for doubts and sorrow. The collective explores questions like: What is the consequence of working with an expanded view of art within on-going social and political processes? And how does geography, class and identity relate to these processes? Can the situation of a small so-called ‘dying’ municipality allow us to better understand the consequences of global neoliberalism and the current Swedish welfare policies? Through their practice, the Non-Existent Centre seeks to create possibilities to research and to act socially, politically, responsibly and artistically in response to these complex questions.


At ICAF, the Non-Existent Centre offers an interactive workshop in which they aim to provide insight into their art work and the social and political context in which it has been created. They will begin by reconstructing their ground breaking performance The Complete Story About Ljusnarsberg and the rest of the world by means of audio-visual documentation. Subsequently, they will invite you to explore together with them a number of dilemmas that have come across their path while working with a variety of people in this particular context. These include moral and ethical questions about the position and role of participatory art in a far from perfectly functioning society. Which roles should art play in society and what roles should it avoid? When does art become a mere plaster on a defective system? These dilemmas will be familiar to many community artists from around the world. They force us to question why we do what we do, particularly in a day and age where participation and community-based approaches are being appropriated by the mainstream, or when arts projects are being regarded as cheap alternatives to 'fix' social problems.

Thursday 30 March 13.30