Maskinhuset in Grängesberg, Sweden 2017
The End of the Iron Age
The first thing one notices when entering an abandoned factory, or any other building which function has ceased to be performed, is the silence. It is not that this silence is exeptiona, – after all, silence is puite pervasive outside of cities- but that it is, on some level misplaced. It is not the silence that makes one queasy, but the absence of the noises we would come to expect from the towering machines and the rusty engines surrounding us. Quite simply, it is the sense that something has gone away, that what was before is not what is now, not what will be after. The Greeks had a keen sense of this loss af a past, imagined or real. Hesiod writes that humanity has seen five ages, from Gold to Bronze of heroes and divinities, but that he and his readers find themselves in the last and the worst of all ages, the age of Iron, shere men know only quarrel and uneasiness. In some perverse way, hesion wa sright: from 1100 BC to now iron is still the prevalent material in constructon around the world. In this sense, if there is an age of iron, we haven’t left it yet. So where does that leave us in a mine that has been left behind, where if teh iron age has not ended, it nonetheless feels like it belongs to the past? What to dowith things that are gone, with endings that don’t have aclusure?
But the Iron Age is a mythical story, and like all myths it can hide simpler things. Sometimes ages do have to be put to sleep, and the music of old machines has to come back to revive without resurrecting, to sing for themselves both a song and a lullaby.
Text Alexandre Saden
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