Maja Daniels | Elf Dalia

15 september – 27 oktober 2018
It has become a tradition in the LhGWR programming to present an international artist at the beginning of the cultural season. After Andrew Phelps, Christina de Middel, Clare Strand and the duo show of Taisuke Koyama and Takashi Kawashima this year’s season opening will bring the work of Swedish emerging talent Maja Daniels to your attention. Daniels has set up an intriguing project that lingers through several storylines around the Swedish valley of Älvdalen. Her personal bloodline, an ancient language, witch-hunts from the seventeenth century and the vernacular photography of Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938), it all contributes to the richness of her project, that focusses on the friction between the contemporary and the tradition.

Maja Daniels on her own project:

Most inhabitants in the Swedish valley of Älvdalen still speak Elfdalian, an ancient language with strong links to the Viking’s Old Norse. How it has managed to persist to this day remains an unsolved mystery to linguists, historians and other scientists since the community has never been fully isolated.

Events in Älvdalen in 1668 sparked the birth of the Swedish witch-hunts, where 20 women and one man were executed in the region, sentenced to death based on testimonies mainly given by children. One of the first stories that emerged from the time involved a girl from Älvdalen who had been seen walking on water. In 1935, a man called Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938) spoke on national radio – in Elfdalian – about sorcery and the Black Book of Magic. An avid collector of local history, he photographed his community extensively but he also used photography in his astronomy and physics experiments, which involved building a telescope and photographing the moon.

In 2012 I began working in the region, inspired by the current generational shift, where negotiations and tensions between modern lifestyles and tradition – including the preservation of a strong cultural identity and language imbued with mysticism – represent an important contemporary struggle.