Sune Jonsson at the PM Gallery

These images seem modern. Although reviewers talk about the documentation of a transformation in Swedish society they don’t seem to belong to the past. They are strong images that seem to inhabit the now. As much as those japanese photographs seemed to have another place in time. Is it quality of film or processing or the moment when images are taken? It seems at least to be part of my time. My own memory. Where I grew up the last of these figures lived on. Watching the rural change. The last of these people. People of few words. A different way of seeing, of approaching the world. Watching them grow old and die….slipping into the past? But here they seem to live. Not live on as memory but something else. In his pictures Sweden looks more modern than New York. Or timeless. Not set within a time. The posed but not posed. But I suppose we are not here to place these images within a timeline. Though this does relate to their strengths. I looked at Walker Evan’s images for clues. They seem more sepia. More outside looking in. More posed. Less affection. Sune’s native village. Local knowledge. It shows. The others vs me. Do the people seem more active here? Uncrushed by recession? Subjects: Poverty vs a community? Small holders vs share croppers. landscapes of drying hay, seeded and rolled earth. His other pictures are different. They don’t seem to have this connection. The images are less interesting. They fit within types. They have been seen before? His images of Prague don’t roar like Koudelka. Although the painter with brush running across a street has a certain jarring quality. The New York photos are too distant. Now he observes an other. I think its his closeness, his shared experience that are the power in these images. It allows him to get the best photographs. He has the right distance from the subject. He neither assaults or hides with the lens.

Does he miss any thing……..does he exclude from his vision. Who does he skip? Is country poor as obvious as city poor or USA poor?

The images were mostly medium size images, but around windows and doors images grew. Almost the height of doors. A pattern. They were not unwelcome. They didn’t impose but gave the viewer a chance to further engage with the subject. To look more closely. An invite. The patterns of rural intimacy and distance?

I liked that the gallery placed Sune’s work in context. That they extend the experience by including contemporary photographers. Adding complexity and opening up the subject and approaches.

Martin Bogren: takes a different approach. His images are distanced for the rural. They are by turns sentimental and fearful. They are distorted and blurred. They are fairy tales.  Modern fairy tales. With monsters and maidens and memories and warnings. (Sune Jonsson studies folklore at university in the 1950’s.) Perhaps in his dreams he includes other elements country life? The excluded. Sex. Fearful places. Decay. The forgotten. There is something I like about the strange exposures, the light leaks etc…..the randomness……though it needs to be handled in the right way or can feel contrived? Does this feel contrived? Sometimes?

Elin Berge: A huge clash with the b&w  of the swedish homelands. The inward looking? The world comes in. And the village goes out. Expansion. Thai women and their swedish husbands. Living in the north. The exhibition only included one image and a slide show. Which moved so slowly. Which was a pity and I was glad I found the book in the gallery attached to a huge white block. The book worked wonderfully and on so many levels. It weaved between closeness and distance and seemed to be a touch examination of the intimacy and dislocation of people. The sadness and joy. The acceptance and love and the isolation and need to be separate, all wrapped together. All these perspectives……….complex. After all the b&w the colours seemed a little clumsy, I mean it seemed like the exotic displayed in colour. This was only in contrast.

Elin Hoyland: Elin in some ways seems to portray the finish of the kind of people in the Sune exhibition. The transformation has happened and people live and on and finally die. These brothers seem to be the people in question. Their world is very small. The brothers relationship. They do not travel and days spent away are unhappy. Are they pushed too close together in these images? I like them in some ways but I fear there is a sense of reduction about the images. As if there life is somehow criticized? I don’t get much sense of them. Their fun? Their laughter? Their love of the birds? What we do get is the emptiness of the beds. Image of the brothers sat on their beds in their room. Then one brother. Then the empty beds. And I guess it all leads to this point. And then when you keep looking you see little bits of play and fun emerge through viewing. The poses. The serious faces. That this is something of a  set up. That these were also fun things (perhaps?). I heart coffee. Sat on the bed. Naked chests. Almost a smile. Soon a smile. The next frame?

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Filed under Dec 2011, Thoughts

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