The Lion, the “Which” and the War Told

There is a bit of Darwin to Katharina Swoboda’s lions. An origin of a species of lion, one might say, migrating and changing despite being made of stone. The Lion of Atlanta: a Research Story explores the one of the distant relatives of the Lion of Lucerne, which has made its home in Atlanta, USA since 1894.

The Atlanta Cyclorama. A panaroma within a cylindrical room depicting the Battle of Atlanta during the American Civil War.

Swoboda’s film is a purposefully incomplete tapestry. One that is an enchantingly strange patchwork, which captures the lion’s survival and fitness wonderfully following its creation as a monument to confederate soldiers from the American Civil War. The 124 year-old lion’s environment is a fascinating mixture of ghosts, graveyards, changing allegiances, living lions, hollywood elites, and classic literature.

A plot and headstone inscribed with the surname “King” in the nearby cemetery.

The often eerie atmosphere and cuts seem to amplify the disembodied nature of a radically shifting area in a relatively short historical timeline. The Lion of Atlanta must too be disembodied to be properly suited to the space. Further supported by the film’s audio, Swoboda plays with evocative acoustic contrasts. The research story shifts between pop songs and songs of American history. Additionally, the narration moves between European accented English and a native speaker. Two subtle and interesting ways suggesting of the lion’s lineage and changes over time.

The Lion of Atlanta.

Lucky for us, there is an upcoming prologue and an epilogue. We look forward to Swoboda’s findings as she travels to distant shores as the lion before her. It leaves us wondering: is she the Lioness and what would Darwin have to say about these transformations?

Another Lion in Nafplio, Greece.

The Lion of Atlanta: a Research Story is currently showing at “Löwen Safari.” The exhibition is curated by Peter Fischer at Kunsthalle Luzern in Switzerland.

The video was produced as part of L21 «Lion Monument 21» A Multi-Annual Project by Kunsthalle Luzern 2017-2021, which deals with the Lion Monument in Lucerne. More information on the project can be found at:

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