The Animate exhibition series presents The Big Store (2008, 8 min.), an animation by the Swedish artist Lars Arrhenius (b. 1966). The film depicts events in the NK department store in Stockholm prior to the murder of the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh (1957–2003)
A view from a surveillance camera shows us the picture, played in the media, of the murderer stepping into the department store. Soon Arrhenius’s film develops X-ray vision, showing a skeleton moving in the store with other skeletons. The mood in the department store is relaxed, people are looking at clothes and browsing records, talking with each other and on the phone. Everything seems to be fine. On the escalator, people move up and down, singly or in groups. Knowing that the murderer is among them, the viewer feels compelled to try to single him out. The plot thickens. Finally the murderer strikes with his knife and the wounded Lindh falls down. All sounds disappear. The logo of the NK store keeps revolving on the roof when the sound of ambulances is heard.
This year, the audience watching Lars Arrhenius’s The Big Store cannot but be affected by knowledge of what happened in Norway. Just as in Sweden in 2003, the original target of the attack on the island of Utøya was a politician. The setting of both events were unexpected. Even though the sites were public, the murderer seemed to have penetrated into a highly personal sphere. Lars Arrhenius says he was shocked by the murder of Anna Lindh, and claims that it marked the end of the social democratic Swedish welfare state. In the animation, the Swedish department store is empty, no products are visible. The X-ray vision draws attention to the movements of people. The distanced viewer can focus on the essential: human action.
The Animate exhibition series is part of the Turku 2011 European
Capital of Culture Programme. It explores the role of animation as an
independent contemporary art form and as part of the visual arts.
Animate is a collaboration project between the Turku Art Museum, the
Pori Art Museum and the Turku University of Applied Sciences/Animation
Ten questions to the Darkroom artist
1. Could you tell how you usually start planning new art works and how the work proceeds?
I can´t say I have a formula, that would be handy... But I think it´s important to be open to all ideas that are popping up from the compost. The idea to the film "The Big Store" came from tragic death of Anna Lindh. I was, like everyone else, shaked by the murder. In my studio I did a tableau of NK, inspired by Pieter Brueghel, with all sorts of people doing parallel activities in the same second Anna Lindh was killed. Some time after, I realized this is much better as an animation. Then after one year getting funding from all sorts of institutions like SVT SFI and Film i Skåne we started to produce the film and one more year ahead the film was finished.
The subject forced this working process, I like to be more open to whims and crazy perspectives.
2. With which themes have you worked on for the work showed in the Darkroom?
”The Big Store” is an animation that depicts what happened the minutes before the murder of the Swedish Foreign minister Anna Lindh.
The department store is filled with people shopping, exposed as filmed by an x-ray camera. New Sweden is visualized in an empty store, when the merchandise and goods are gone our actions appears more distinct.
3. Why are these subjects important to you?
Social democracy formed Sweden during 20th century to a welfare state. And the murder from my perspective did end this era.
4. Have you worked for a long time with these subjects?
No, this was my first time I did a political artwork.
5. Could you tell about the technique you have used for this work?
My work is idea/script/producer/director so I have no idea what kind of program this 3D animation is done by.
6. Is this technique typical for your working?
My previous work has been 2D animations, but the childprogram "Showtajm" I do with Daniel Westlund and Carl-Mickael Herlöfsson for SVT is partly 3D
7. What does animation mean to you?
One of many disciplines to express my ideas.
8. What does this exhibition at Turku Art Museum mean to you?
A great way to reach a public that is interested and open for new perspectives.
9. Which other art fields are close to you and why?
I have a close relation to music, I have always played instruments. A CD will be released with music from "Showtajm" that I have composed.
10. Could you tell about your future plans?
I will finish a commission in a Burgerhaus in Munich and making a board game...