Trbovlje Up Side Down
photo series, text
In the summer of 2006 I was travelling from Venice to Budapest on a pleasant train taking me through Slovenia on the route to its goal. Some hour after passing the capital Ljubljana, the train rolled through the gray tinted city of Trbovlje, a small industrial community dominated by mining companies. During a couple unexpected seconds something ungraspable loomed outside the window. First distorted due to the angle through the glass, then for a moment clearly visible, and after that the trained had passed. It appeared to be a giant pillar reaching eternally upwards. Since the train had passed so close by it had been impossible to get a complete view.
What I had seen was in fact, as a quick Google search later would tell me, the tallest chimney in Europe, with its 360 meters, even taller than the Eifel tower. The chimney belongs to Trbovlje Power Station, a coal fired power plant, and it was built in the 1970’s to limit the pollution in this, at the time, Yugoslavian city. The air became notably cleaner in the area, but in Austria people were less thrilled. Furthermore, on the hillside not far from Trbovlje, the about 360 meter higher located mountain village Dobovec was suddenly veiled in a hazardous fog. Since Dobovec was part of the Trbovlje municipality the villagers were helpless against the chimney friendly majority down in the valley.
During the last years however, the situation has changed. Several important industries has closed down or left Trbovlje, and the mining industry is being dismantled. The chimney is not emitting as much toxics as before and Dobovec is a thriving green village whilst the decaying concrete city below is threatened by unemployment and depopulation.
At NCCA Ural in Yekaterinburg the piece was presented together with the sound piece Bruksort and the photo series As Above So Below as an installation.