Herring, Iron, Gunpowder, Humans & Sugar

Herring, Iron, Gunpowder, Humans & Sugar (Swedish title:Sill, Järn, Krut, Människor & Socker) is a cultural project that examines how the triangle trading system (16th to early19th centuries), the economic system underpinning the transatlantic slave trade, still affects contemporary economic and cultural structures. The project is a collaboration between the Jamaican dancer Olando Whyte and the Swedish visual artist Rut Karin Zettergren and consists of four parts. Collection of facts, creation of sculptural objects, performances with dance and the construction of an telephone app telling the story about the the history of the triangular trade and the transatlantic slave trade from a intercultural perspective. We want to investigate questions about legacy, re visit and rewrite history and use artistic methods to discuss and process a historical trauma in.

Within the project Whyte and Zettergren will visit places that are connected to the triangular trade in Sweden, England, Ghana and Jamaica and collect information about the history of each place. We will collect and make sculptural objects from the material that the places used to produce and export. With the sculptural objects we will do performances in historical places. In Sweden we will collect steal and visit iron mines that produced the bar iron that was used as a currency to bye slaves with, used in the slave chains, plantation tools and weapons. Collect salted herring and visit harbours where the salted fish were shipped off to the Caribbean where it was used as food for slaves. In England we will collect material like cotton material, glas and gunpowder and visit old factories that refined the colonial goods and banks and cultural institutions built from the wealth. In Ghana we vill visit former slave castles along the coast line and gather material that used to be traded as gold and spices. In Jamaica the project will visit former plantations, suger mills, rom distilleries and and slave markets. As the sculptural material we will use molasses, sugar, hard wood , indigo and tobacco that used to be grown on the plantations.

The performances will be based on the history of each place and consist off story telling, dance with the object and possibly form a forum for healing. We believe that it is important to try to re tell history from new angles and bring together knowledge and facts from at different geographical places that are intertwined but has been forgotten. To develop the performance we will look at dances as traditional Afro-Jamaican dances that used to function as release for trauma caused by slavery. We will also look at western forms of cultural therapy as art and dance therapy an psychodrama. The performances will be made at historical sites connected to or built with the wealth from the trade. In Sweden we will perform at old harbours, mines, outside the former west indies company head quarter. We also research on cultural institutions created by the king Gustav III as as Kungl. Konstakademien and Dramatiska Teatern. In Sweden culture as well as over sea colonies played a part in the kings mission to build a national grate power and was connected to its ideology. In England at institutions as British Museum, The National Gallery, Barclays bank and and stately houses. In Ghana we will be performed in trading points and harbours around former swedish Cabo Corso (Cap Cost) and former slave forts as Fort Carolusborg (Cape Coast Castle), Fort Christiansborg (Osu Castle)  and Fort Batenstein. In Jamaica at old plantation estates and “Grate Houses”, at the ground of former sugarcane plantations, in Marron villages where slave rebellions was led from, outside the old Court House in Montego Bay where slave rebellion leaders used to be convicted and in Spanish town the former capital city outside Old King's House where the governor used to live and the old House of Assembly.

In the app there will be a map where you can find the places within the triangular trade and get information about them. The number of places on the map will grow as the project expands. At the present stage we have covered funding for making the project in Sweden and England in Europe, Ghana in Africa and Jamaica in the Caribbean. The will also be information about the project and documentations from our performances and research.

For us it is an investigation in how history has affected each of our cultural expression, for Whyte contemporary Jamaican dance and for Zettergren contemporary Swedish art. We want to try to use this cultural heritage and activate the materials and places that was a part of it. A goal is to create artistic methods for reconciliation and use art in healing processes to process cultural wounds caused by historical trauma. We hope that the project will contribute in gather new knowledge and deepen the available information of historical places, cultural institutions, companies and other history that has shaped our societies and still plays an important part in politics and contemporary culture. Hopefully that the users will find new knowledge and also find methods and examples in how to create their own performance or rituals to tell about history and process trans generational and national traumas on through culture.