Jag inbjöds i februari 2014 att göra en Pecha Kucha och tackade ja. En av grundarna av detta geniala presentationsformat, Mark Dytham, närvarade denna kväll, så jag ville göra det på engelska. Min pecha kucha blev den senaste versionen av Varför Jag Gör Konst, och den bästa hittills. Den följer här, i ord och bilder.
I make images of things that I don’t understand but have an idea about. That way, there’s always something in my world that is new, that still has no name. This is the map of Alternate Umeå. I think this is where my images are made.
I used to think that I need to build a world of my own. To establish a place of free air. A place that I felt needed to exist, if only in pictures. But my job is not to choose a place and stay there. I think the important thing is not to build an entire world in books and pictures and songs, but to take that step of starting a journey.
To leave. If you walk the streets of your hometown, and you take that first step in your head, then you can be transported. And then, you are drawing the map as you follow it. Because I think that traveling and building a world in your mind is actually the same process.
Like everyone else, I just try to make sense of the world. I am a stranger, like all of us are. But I also want to be a stranger. I think I decided at some point that I wanted to make something out of that. I like finding courtyards and vacant lots that I did not know was there.
I like the idea of the outskirts of town, this nondescript area that is neither city nor countryside. And I kind of like it when buildings are torn down. Because to me, that means that two versions of the same location exist. Just not at the same time.
I am drawn to areas where the texture of the landscape changes. What you might call miniature borderlands. I think it’s the transition and the crossing that is important. The spaces in-between. Some of the buildings you see in my pictures cannot be visited on foot.
Some cannot anymore, and some never could. They belong in the same category. The buildings I portray sometimes look like they had a purpose at some point, whether it’s shelter, utility, home or something much more sinister. Sometimes I explore their interiors.
Often they only serve as a marker, a place on the map. Entering a building can be likened to going inside yourself, and sometimes it’s confusing and dark in there. I have a great need of both consolation and challenge. I long for safety as much as I long for danger.
Maybe that’s why I create sunny pictures as well as dark ones. I keep going back and forth between the garden and the dark tunnels. Sometimes my images seem like memories. It has also been suggested that they show a world waiting for mankind, so, looking at them, you are the first to arrive.
In this way, my images carry a message of change. So that makes it about the passage of time. Which makes it about death. My time and energy is so very limited. I don’t want to go to sleep, there’s still so much to do. And while the world sleeps around you, more doors stand open.
Darkness to me means focus, attention. Finding ways to take risks, to be scared, without shutting down. I tell myself to look for courage. If all signs speak of fear, indifference, thoughtlessness: keep looking.
There always seems to be a part of the story that cannot be put into words. So much of working with art consists of finding ways to deal with what cannot be dealt with. There’s this failure of definition in the middle. I enjoy that immensely, of course.
I employ uncertainty and lack of control in my work. I do this for a chance to be surprised. I think surprises are really important. Not knowing what you are doing is an excellent place to be. Even though the nights may be bitter, and the mornings scare you.
Take another first step. Find another way to tell your story. I invented mutations of Umeå and the land surrounding it, just so that this wouldn’t be the only version of it. Just to convince myself that the extra space, the undefined, the nameless,
can be visited and explored. Because adding to your dream map means adding to your actual world. We live in our minds just as much as we share a physical world. Walking a street by thought creates a memory just as much as walking on foot.
The world is so very crowded. There are people and things everywhere and everything is wonderful. This is a reason for me to make pictures where there’s a lot of emptiness, a lot of silence. Despite my obsession with pretty details, and light and shadow, I am creating space more than anything else.
The same way that building a world of your own is fine, but not important, the art might actually be the by-product. My images are just the result of me going through this process, taking this journey. Maybe what I am actually doing, is practicing my method of handling this material that cannot be defined.
Of seeing but not knowing what I’m looking at. Maybe what I am practicing is willful ignorance. Making myself not understand. In short, being the fool. It might be unprofessional, and it’s certainly not a viable business plan. Although it does happen, somehow, that I get paid.
Harvesting what cannot be measured is my job. Tending to an unstable terrain. Taking care of glimpses and vague clues. Because what we think is the case about the world almost certainly, perhaps, is not. We are blind. And that’s fine. I believe that there’s nobody at the wheel. I believe that our pursuit to control our world will inevitably fail. And I believe that’s not a disaster.
I believe that that’s hope. And I will keep making pictures of that.