Conversations with a Shipwreck
This project is a collaboration with writer Joan Wickersham who was inspired by the seventeenth-century Swedish warship Vasa. Combining prose poems and large-format photographs evoked by the ship and its story, it is a meditation on a mysterious vessel both destroyed and preserved by catastrophe.
The immense and elaborately ornamented warship Vasa, built to be the most fearsome military weapon of its time. It was launched on August 10, 1628 and sank almost instantly, capsized by a small gust of wind that came down through a gap in the cliffs. For three hundred years the ship lay forgotten at the bottom of Stockholm harbor. Then in 1956, an independent scholar named Anders Franzén found the wreck using homemade grappling tools. Franzén spearheaded a long and ultimately successful effort to raise the ship, restore it, and build a museum to house it along with everything that had been salvaged, including the bones of the people who died in the wreck. Vasa is now permanently housed in the Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården, Stockholm.
Between 4 March – 7 September 2021, The Scandinavia House, New York hosted an online exhibition of Conversations with a Shipwreck. During the covid pandemic, Joan and Adam became fascinated by the possibilities of developing a multimedia exhibition that would speak directly to the viewer in a time of isolation. Scandinavia House, together with the American-Scandinavian Foundation whose funding helped to support the work in Sweden, provided the opportunity to make the first presentation of this digital show, which paired audio readings of twelve of Joan’s written pieces with Adam’s large-format photographs.