Welcome to the biosphere

SVENSKT TENN EXHIBITED "Welcome the biosphere" 23.08.2019 – 27.10.2019

In this exhibition you will find out, among other things, that you consist of biomass and that the rain forests, coral reefs and sea can be transformed into money.

The exhibition deals with issues regarding our relationship to the biosphere – that thin layer around the earth where we live, which supports human existance. It’s about the complex relationship between climate change, norms, ethics and economics. All of this is interpreted and visualised by the artists Lars Arrhenius and Eric Ericson in collaboration with Svenskt Tenn’s curator, Karin Södergren.

Svenskt Tenn is owned by a foundation and the whole surplus is given to research, education and cultural projects. Over the years, 188 million SEK has been donated to these causes, which has led to valuable discoveries and solutions in areas such as medicine and the correlation between economics and ecology.

Here we show a small selection of all the texts, figures and illustrations that are on display in the exhibition on Strandvägen 5.

"Just 4% of mammals live in the wild."

Life Forms

Life on earth began roughly 4.5 billion years ago. Over time single cell organisms developed into, among other things, middle managers. People make up 0.01 per cent of all living life on the planet. Since the dawn of our civilisation we’ve reduced the mass of vegetation by 50 per cent and the total mass of mammals by 85 per cent. We’ve been more result-oriented than ever over the past 50 years. In this short time, a full 50 per cent of all mammals on earth have been eradicated.

Human beings control large portions of the earth’s biomass. Today just 4 per cent of the world’s mammals live in the wild. That is to say, the risk of being attacked by wild animals has been significantly reduced. As such, human beings are safer today than they were before.

  1. - 60 per cent livestock.
  2. - 36 per cent human beings.
  3. - 4 per cent wild mammals.

The Nuclear Family & Norms

Norms — unwritten rules, ideas and ideals — are prerequisites for a functioning society. Norms serve as a type of civic compass or as society’s security guards. Complying with norms leads to acceptance, validation, and a sense of belonging.

Examples of existing norms:
– Heterosexual families with two children. It’s a plus if the age difference between the children does not exceed two years.
– Men have a higher status than women.
– Eating meat, working well in groups and thriving.

Eating meat is the norm. Heeding norms leads to group acceptance. In 2018 meat consumption in Sweden was 83.5 kilos per person and the production of livestock accounts for approximately 15 per cent of global green-house gas emissions.

Marie, to the right, is an average person in Sweden and emits 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Abdi, to the left, is an average person in Somalia and emits 0.05 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Välkommen till biosfären bränsle - Svenskt Tenn

Man and vehicle are the norm.

Man and vehicle are the norm. Fossil fuels are made of biomass that is stored underground for millions of years. The process is similar to the production of mead. In the spring, around the same time as the blackbird starts singing, man takes out his vehicles. Status and manhood are expressed in decibels and by the price tag on the vehicle. Fuel plays an important part in communicating a masculine identity.

"There is an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean 3X the surface area of Sweden."

Plastic is manufactured almost exclusively using fossil-based raw materials derived from crude oil. In 2005 the annual consumption of plastic per person in the industrialised world was 100 kilos.

Plastic is a durable material. It takes nature 600 years to break down a fishing line and 450 years for a plastic bottle. After the product has decomposed, the essence of the plastic lingers in the form of microplastic particles. Estimates suggest that by 2050 there will be as much plastic in the ocean as there are fish.

There is an island in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the surface area of Sweden. The island consists of 1.6 million square kilometres of plastic and weighs 80 million tonnes. You could say it’s a marker of economic prosperity and growth.

Välkommen till biosfären Quote - Svenskt Tenn
The Battle
The earth is a chessboard upon which people are locked in battle against the biosphere. You could say that oil is our ally in this fight. If the biosphere gets the upper hand, development will regress.

Do you want to learn more?

In the below brochure you can see all texts and illustrations that are now shown at the exhibition "Welcome to the Biosphere". Visit Svenskt Tenn's store at Strandvägen 5 to see the exhibition as a whole.