Documenting collective grief

Gepostet 2017-06-21 13:21:05

“Rest in peace”. Many people left personal regards and created a memorial at the scen where the football supporter from Djurgården (Stockholm) died. Photo: Sven-Olof Larsén, Kulturmagasinet

When the Djurgården and HIF football clubs met in the first Premier Division match at Olympia on 30 March 2014, a 43 year old Djurgården supporter was knocked down and died of his injuries. On the day of the match as well as the previous evening, there was a great deal of unrest in Helsingborg, with several cases of assault and vandalism. The day after the game, the city was in shock; in the evening, HIF’s supporter club organized a manifestation against violence which several thousand people attended. At the spot where the Djurgården supporter had been knocked down, tributes of scarves, club shirts and candles gradually built up.

After the manifestation, people gathered around the memorial that was created at the scene where the supporter died. Photo: Sven-Olof Larsén, Kulturmagasinet

When the tributes were removed by the Peab construction company, staff from Kulturmagasinet were there to deal with some of the material that had accumulated. Kulturmagasinet’s photographer, who was there to document the removal, had previously photographed the manifestation as well as the way in which the collection of tributes had developed. Newspaper articles about the event and the ensuing debate were gathered continuously.

Staff from Kulturmagasinet documented and removed the memorial. Approximately 200 objects where collected to the museum. Photo: Sven-Olof Larsén, Kulturmagasinet

The removal of the tributes was preceded by discussions, with opinions being somewhat divided. How should we conduct the collection procedure? Some methods were considered too technocratic and it was feared that human value would be lost. What gives us the right to collect people’s private thoughts? As the memorial had grown to a considerable size, we realized that we could not take everything – but how could we take a representative sample? Another question also arose, namely the importance of being prepared for unexpected, significant events.

Birgitta Witting is an antiquarian at Kulturmagasinet in Helsingborg, Sweden. She is responsible for the annual contemporary documentation, but is also working with the museum collection in several ways. Birgitta is a member of DOSS (Documentation of Swedish Society) steering committee since 2016. /

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