The swedish city of Kiruna is situated right north of the polar circle. It has around 23.000 inhabitants and of those nearly every sixth is working for LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag, named after the two mountains that Kiruna is in between), a mining company owned by the swedish state. Kiruna exists mainly because of its mining operations which started around 1900. In Kiruna, the iron ore body consists largely of a giant tilted disk of magnetite that carves in under the city. It is supposed to be the largest single iron ore body in the world. It is roughly four kilometres long from north to south and 80 metres wide on average. It descends sharply into the ground towards the east by 60 degrees. It continues to a depth of at least 1500 metres. When LKAB mines the iron ore, the ground is affected. Each portion of ore taken out of the mine is followed by waste rock falling from above, making the ground to sink gradually, causing deformations at ground level. Because the iron ore body tilts, deformations are coming closer and closer to the city. In 2004 the municipality of Kiruna started the project of the “City in Transformation” to develop plans of moving the city centre 3 kilometres to some new sites, mostly to be paid by LKAB. Around 3000 flats, 200 houses, 380 hotel rooms and 200.000 square metres of public space and buildings will have to be abandoned or redesigned somewhere else. Some of the existing houses, around 20 of them, will be moved to the new city centre, starting from summer 2017 onwards. Construction activities started in 2016 with the new City Hall.
This is a visual approach to the often paradox relationship between the mine and the city. The city does only exist because of the mine and at the same time people are forced to start a new existence somewhere else due to the mining operations. At the moment there is a mix of nostalgia and doubt prevailing: People have to take their memories that were tied to places with them and trust the vision of a place that does not exist yet.
In Kiruna several big topics of our time concentrate together in a dense microcosmos: Economic progress vs. preserving the cultural heritage, changing of urban landscapes because of natural or man-made events, environmental and cultural impact of big mining operations and mankind´s constant attempt to undertake huge efforts to continue an alleged path to happiness.