Vertical Freeze
September 2023
Sarah McNulty

At the former AGA site, a gas container where chemicals were produced was demolished, leaving a massive, unused red tower and spiral staircase. Hovering high above the surrounding city, the tower is a beacon indicating the site’s industrial history as well as a trace of the city imploding upon itself, devouring what was once its outskirts, turning industrial areas into art and creative hubs into housing areas.

One of AGA’s founders Gustaf Dalén was a pioneer in developing gases for industrial purposes and pro- duced a solar valve that allowed lighting, particularly in lighthouses, to automatically turn on in the dark. Ultimately the inventor went blind in his search for light. Emptied of its gas container and thus of its origi- nal functionality, the tower remains now only as a supporting structure and a metaphor for a renegotiation of the space.

Maybe Dalén left the compound using the gas container as a vessel to leave the surface of the earth. The tower turned into a launchpad and the stairs only the first part of a vertical journey up and out (if not down).

The frieze, mounted on the tower, depicts an unsettling collage of romantic painted skies cast with visual- izations of liquid gases in different states and reminds us that soon this view to the sky will be shadowed by buildings. Horizons will be in short supply.

Where the vertical rise of a lighthouse serves the horizontal navigation through our looking up, Goo- gle-maps and similar navigational technologies monitored by satellites prompt us to look down on the screen tracking how we move on the horizontal plane. Instead of looking towards the sky, we are con- stantly watched from above. The only escape from this kind of tracking is to move only vertically, or freeze.

- Anne Kølbæk Iversen