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bright sky hangs above the vibrant greenery of the grounds surrounding the House of Sweden in Washington DC. Spring shows its presence here, clearly identifying an emergence of life in the area. However, once you enter the building's doors and descend to Helene Schmitz’s "Dreamland" exhibit, the mood changes to one of solemn ambience.

"Dreamland" includes twelve photographs in two series focused on human-induced changes in bedrock and forests in Sweden. Schmitz refers to these photographic exposés as “a meditation on man’s relation to nature—a global, highly industrialized and automated transformation of landscapes.” While ironically called "Dreamland," this exhibit conveys the appalling reality of environmental and ecological deterioration.

“The Embassy is proud to present this timely photo exhibition in House of Sweden,” Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, told Diplomatic Courier. “Helene Schmitz’s photographs expose how the human use of natural resources affects biodiversity and ecosystems, and her work sheds light on the importance of urgent climate action. The Swedish government aims to do its part—both at home and abroad—and has set ambitious goals for sustainability, such as becoming the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation.”

The first series of "Dreamland," "The Forest," reveals the ruinous aftermath of fires in the production forests of the Västmanland County in Sweden. Schmitz has described these photos of desolate forest landscapes as “bar codes,” an observation that speaks to the human commodification of nature. The Forest further reflects the significance of wood in Sweden as a useful yet exploited form of nature.

One photograph, entitled the "Turnings of Fire," shows a forest scorched by the effects of fire. Blackened tree limbs and logs lie like corpses on the yellowed ground. The trees that remain standing unveil trunks with damaged skin and open wounds. Another photo, “The Marsh,” displays a forest in Västmanland years after its initial burn. The growth of greenery on the forest’s floor gives the spectator a sense of returning life. However, the image lacks living organisms, upholding the ominous silence distinctive to this exhibit.

The second photography series, "The Bedrock," presents the immense Aitik mine outside Gällivare. “The Pit” photograph displays the vastness of the Aitik copper mine. Linear and repetitive cuts make the pit deeper, forcing this unhealed wound further into the earth. Copper seeps out of the pit’s walls as if it bleeds from the cuts dug into its matter. Other photos such as “The Copper Mine” impart similar sentiments. The Bedrock series unveils the vast gashes and lacerations to the earth that the mining industry produces.

"Dreamland" captures nature’s allure while divulging its devastation. “I’m interested in the doubleness. I try to seek the beauty but also do something different than only show the pure destruction,” Schmitz in the virtual opening of the exhibit, "but also give this hope and see that life will go on, and something else will come up."

After viewing the photographs, visitors can step outside and be greeted by the sounds of an extinct woodpeckers in forests destroyed by human impact. This sound installation called "The Messenger" serves as “a message and a remembrance to something lost” and comments on the ongoing global deforestation and demise of countless species worldwide.

To depart "Dreamland" and ascend the steps to the "SmartMobility" exhibit is to emerge from the darkness into the light, from the natural world into in one of human innovation. One can wander through this area and learn of Sweden’s dedication to advancing mobility in all forms. Transportation accounts for nearly one-third of Sweden’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which causes a hurdle to the country's goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Although, as "Smart Mobility"’ exemplifies, Sweden encourages innovation, regulation, and investment to become the leader in new mobility solutions.

"Smart Mobility"’ displays a wide collection of artifacts. One collection, entitled the Museum of Failure, emphasizes Sweden’s acknowledgment and confrontation of failure in innovation. This exhibit involves recognizing failure as a vital aspect to create a better and more sustainable future in all sectors.

The theme of acknowledging failure from "Smart Mobility"’ dovetails with "Dreamland" as both exhibitions convey the darker side of Sweden’s industrial history. The Embassy of Sweden's decision to showcase their natural land's deterioration, while so many other countries might highlight only its natural wonders, of which Sweden also has plenty, might seem a surprising one for any embassy to make. “It’s courageous," Schmitz said, "and I’m proud of the Swedish Embassy that they do this exhibition right now.”

"Dreamland" and "Smart Mobility"’ show the vital recognition of responsibility—an integral step to innovate for a smarter and more sustainable future—and the consequences of failing to do so.

The "Dreamland" and "Smart Mobility" exhibitions are open to the public at the House of Sweden at 2900 K St NW in Georgetown on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 PM. "Dreamland" will be on display until December 2021. House of Sweden is accessible by the DC Circulator, DC Metro Bus, and bicycle and walking paths. Learn about virtual tour opportunities and additional information.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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New Exhibits Spotlight Environmental Devastation and Innovation

Helene Schmitz's Copper Mine photograph, part of the Dreamland exhibition at the House of Sweden.

April 25, 2021

Two new exhibits at the House of Sweden in Washington showcase environmental innovation and destruction.

A

bright sky hangs above the vibrant greenery of the grounds surrounding the House of Sweden in Washington DC. Spring shows its presence here, clearly identifying an emergence of life in the area. However, once you enter the building's doors and descend to Helene Schmitz’s "Dreamland" exhibit, the mood changes to one of solemn ambience.

"Dreamland" includes twelve photographs in two series focused on human-induced changes in bedrock and forests in Sweden. Schmitz refers to these photographic exposés as “a meditation on man’s relation to nature—a global, highly industrialized and automated transformation of landscapes.” While ironically called "Dreamland," this exhibit conveys the appalling reality of environmental and ecological deterioration.

“The Embassy is proud to present this timely photo exhibition in House of Sweden,” Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, told Diplomatic Courier. “Helene Schmitz’s photographs expose how the human use of natural resources affects biodiversity and ecosystems, and her work sheds light on the importance of urgent climate action. The Swedish government aims to do its part—both at home and abroad—and has set ambitious goals for sustainability, such as becoming the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation.”

The first series of "Dreamland," "The Forest," reveals the ruinous aftermath of fires in the production forests of the Västmanland County in Sweden. Schmitz has described these photos of desolate forest landscapes as “bar codes,” an observation that speaks to the human commodification of nature. The Forest further reflects the significance of wood in Sweden as a useful yet exploited form of nature.

One photograph, entitled the "Turnings of Fire," shows a forest scorched by the effects of fire. Blackened tree limbs and logs lie like corpses on the yellowed ground. The trees that remain standing unveil trunks with damaged skin and open wounds. Another photo, “The Marsh,” displays a forest in Västmanland years after its initial burn. The growth of greenery on the forest’s floor gives the spectator a sense of returning life. However, the image lacks living organisms, upholding the ominous silence distinctive to this exhibit.

The second photography series, "The Bedrock," presents the immense Aitik mine outside Gällivare. “The Pit” photograph displays the vastness of the Aitik copper mine. Linear and repetitive cuts make the pit deeper, forcing this unhealed wound further into the earth. Copper seeps out of the pit’s walls as if it bleeds from the cuts dug into its matter. Other photos such as “The Copper Mine” impart similar sentiments. The Bedrock series unveils the vast gashes and lacerations to the earth that the mining industry produces.

"Dreamland" captures nature’s allure while divulging its devastation. “I’m interested in the doubleness. I try to seek the beauty but also do something different than only show the pure destruction,” Schmitz in the virtual opening of the exhibit, "but also give this hope and see that life will go on, and something else will come up."

After viewing the photographs, visitors can step outside and be greeted by the sounds of an extinct woodpeckers in forests destroyed by human impact. This sound installation called "The Messenger" serves as “a message and a remembrance to something lost” and comments on the ongoing global deforestation and demise of countless species worldwide.

To depart "Dreamland" and ascend the steps to the "SmartMobility" exhibit is to emerge from the darkness into the light, from the natural world into in one of human innovation. One can wander through this area and learn of Sweden’s dedication to advancing mobility in all forms. Transportation accounts for nearly one-third of Sweden’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which causes a hurdle to the country's goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Although, as "Smart Mobility"’ exemplifies, Sweden encourages innovation, regulation, and investment to become the leader in new mobility solutions.

"Smart Mobility"’ displays a wide collection of artifacts. One collection, entitled the Museum of Failure, emphasizes Sweden’s acknowledgment and confrontation of failure in innovation. This exhibit involves recognizing failure as a vital aspect to create a better and more sustainable future in all sectors.

The theme of acknowledging failure from "Smart Mobility"’ dovetails with "Dreamland" as both exhibitions convey the darker side of Sweden’s industrial history. The Embassy of Sweden's decision to showcase their natural land's deterioration, while so many other countries might highlight only its natural wonders, of which Sweden also has plenty, might seem a surprising one for any embassy to make. “It’s courageous," Schmitz said, "and I’m proud of the Swedish Embassy that they do this exhibition right now.”

"Dreamland" and "Smart Mobility"’ show the vital recognition of responsibility—an integral step to innovate for a smarter and more sustainable future—and the consequences of failing to do so.

The "Dreamland" and "Smart Mobility" exhibitions are open to the public at the House of Sweden at 2900 K St NW in Georgetown on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 PM. "Dreamland" will be on display until December 2021. House of Sweden is accessible by the DC Circulator, DC Metro Bus, and bicycle and walking paths. Learn about virtual tour opportunities and additional information.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.