Sunday, February 9, 2003

Underground mines to house Swedish and Czech artwork

By Tommy Grandell
The Associated Press

An underground mine in northern Sweden will be turned into an art gallery with works by 14 artists from Sweden and the Czech Republic.

The Wunderland exhibition, will open Saturday 1,782 feet below ground in the LKAB iron ore mine in Kiruna, 765 miles north of Stockholm.

Dozens of paintings, sculptures, installations and video exhibits will be on display. The mine itself extends 34,480 feet into the earth. Mining is still done there around the clock and will continue while the exhibit is open.

After the Kiruna exhibition ends March 16, some of the materials will be sent to the Czech Republic and be displayed in a coal mine in Ostrava beginning in May, where new materials will be added.

The project is financed by contributions from the Swedish Institute, the Arts Council and several Czech institutions. It began nearly two years ago to focus on the idea of how values are shaped, artist David Walliker said.

"This exhibition will explore the value of labor, either by hand or eye, and how they function separately or together," he said. "Also, mining and art have ancient connections, which are older than, for example, agriculture. Art is found in some of the oldest mines in the world, such as the Tukuos mining site in the Sinai, Egypt."

Visitors will travel by bus along old and existing shafts for about 30 minutes in order to get to the mine gallery to see the exhibition.

LKAB has mined ore in Kiruna for more than a century. It started as an open-pit mine and by the 1960s the company was tunneling into the ground.

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