Kajsa Dahlberg’s works focus on the relationship between the narrative structure and the material she uses (almost always film of one kind or another). In Andersonville (2004), a video work in two parts, Kajsa Dahlberg explores a community constructed on the idea of national heritage. Andersonville is an area in north Chicago with a Swedish museum and many shops and restaurants offering various forms of “Swedishness”. Like so many cities in the USA, Chicago is divided into several territories characterised by different nationalities. Chicago is a nation of nations, where the Swedish nation also has a given place. This is only to be expected, in view of the fact that there were more Swedes in Chicago than in Gothenburg around the turn of the previous century.
© Loulou Cherinet
In Andersonville Kajsa Dahlberg looks at the perception of the “home country” among emigrants and their descendants. In Wilhelm Moberg’s novels the emigrants are always pining for the mother country. Is it the same in Andersonville today? In the first part of the video work Andersonville Kajsa Dahlberg has used material from Jan Troell’s film of Moberg’s The Emigrants, to make a short trailer. In The Emigrants the fiction visualises a story that is familiar to many. But neither Moberg nor Troell are able to summarise the entire emigration. The 1850s emigrants are very different from those of the 1930s who got jobs through agents on the large transatlantic ships. Using the trailer format, Kajsa Dahlberg gives this sprawling experience an exciting and dramatic form. The trailer is an interesting format in itself, which sums up a story without conveying more than a hint. The Andersonville trailer is a signature for the mass exodus to the USA, and plays with the image presented by The Emigrants and how the event is perceived in Andersonville.
The second part of Andersonville, also a short film, is based on Kajsa Dahlberg’s interviews with people who earn their living in one way or another by being Swedes in Andersonville. The film format mimics the credits section that usually concludes a film. The frame is divided, one half showing excerpts of interviews following on one another, while the other shows the title of the work and the names of absolutely everyone who participated in it – all the interviewees, and those who were edited out. It serves as a space for everything that was not included in the film, in real life, anything that was not sufficiently relevant, interesting or important – this is the reality that falls outside the certified version of history.
Rodrigo Mallea Lira