BIENNIAL INTERVIEW

GÖTEBORG INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL INTERVIEW
 
A Future Perspective. 
Love Enqvist in conversation with Hinrich Sachs

LE: I am presenting and exhibiting a book in a reading room. It is a continuation of a work I have been doing for several years. It began with documenting intentional communities. Intentional Communities is a term summarising a number of alternative communities, such as eco-villages, communes and spiritual communities.

HS: You once mentioned that you wanted to learn something in starting that work. What were your original intentions?

LE: It started quite intuitively from a feeling of a lack deeply related to the everyday life in Sweden: It seems as if there is no alternative to the system here. But I was curious about alternatives. I was intrigued about whether people have alternative visions and what they do with them. These communities were mainly founded over forty years ago. I wanted to see how they had turned out. It was with an open mind that I went to these places. It partly became about how to live and perceive life in a less prescriptive way…a kind of kaleidoscopic view. It became a journey about what was lost and maybe what might be found along the way. 

HS: However, the photographic style that you are employing doesn’t seem to follow those personal questions. To me, it is rather an observing gaze, curious, but with keeping a certain distance…

LE: Images can stand between us and our perception of the world. It is as if representation and projection are muddled into one bag and we look for the world in images, instead of interpreting them. This dialectical struggle between reality and image allows for a distance that you describe to enter into my work. My look at architecture extends this process. How visions of the future are manifested and placed in architectural structures. The actual forms are trying to visualise the future, but look aged at the same time. This contradiction I find interesting. The combination of often modernistic architecture and their state of decay. Many of the places have deteriorated, well, they let things deteriorate…. I like it in a way…

HS. Ok, I understand: the aged, or weathered state. The architectural vision is not a 3D-rendering coming with a kind of plastic surface from the computer, but is a body exposed to wind, sun and other elements…

LE: Yes, it is a tactile surface rather than an image. What really struck me, was the use of the space, how people meet and live together. Architecture becomes less important. The potential lies in this ephemeral quality of use. Maybe it is something that these communities have learnt: there is not one truth. Many times the original vision was to become a big city, or to achieve a certain goal. I would say, however, that the term utopia is not about reaching a goal but rather about placing it into a future … this means that you have to change and adapt your goals all the time. In a way, the failure of the original plan becomes the success, in so far as they have not grown so much….scale is important here. 

HS: How do you relate that insight with your original quest for finding alternatives to the Swedish way of life? 

LE: First of all it is important to be able to think that there is an alternative. The intentional communities revealed to me that there is a way to do things without asking permission, or following a certain pre-established dictate. 

HS. Oh, do you mean, the fact that these places really exist today is a value?

LE: Yes, this is an important aspect. It has been about revealing and debunking some of the mythologies around these places. So, there is evidence that these communities are here, they exist.

HS: That’s where the medium of photography comes into play, showing them in the contemporary…

LE: Indeed, these communities aren’t historic sites. But I see photography too as a performative act, it is a visual marker of the many experiences I had in these communities. It is a fragment, an element of the whole. 

HS: Do you believe that we continue to project future concepts from the late 1960s?

LE: No, not really, this was a more superficial remark on the aesthetics of science fiction. (laughs) But I believe that visual fantasies about future are still heavily influenced by that decade, we still live under the cycle of 68. 

HS: I have a hard time to make a straight transfer from the 1960s to today because of the complete change in terms of technological presence. For me there is something about all the places you have been visiting for this work, which is about the vision of an analogue world. And might this be a placebo because we aren’t able to grasp and envision a future from today’s perspective?

LE: Many people talk about that today there is no future, at the moment. Maybe it was easier to envision a future during the 60s…

HS. …from that peak moment of modernism, which continuously produced its particular affirmative vision of (strongly technology oriented) future, which generated particular visions of an alternative (hippie and grass roots) future. Constituting two sides of the same historical coin, so to speak?!

LE: Everything is much more unstable in today’s historical and cultural constellation, and anything could change the future more dramatically, than for example during the Cold War.

HS: Does your work provide a certain element of hope, in showing possibilities to create your own hands-on context?

LE: Arcosanti is interesting here: What Soleri talks about is, that there is no other future than to create a future.

HS: To me you point at images in a very specific way. Images in the way that you make and present them, in a continued series, a framework, documenting places somewhere out there, are shown in Sweden. This provides them with an inherent quality of absence. However, the absent, represented by the indexical quality of photography, is transformed into a presence through the framework, becoming the artwork. And the viewer has smoothly been dragged into its space.

LE: Yes, what I have to say is complex, I wanted to approach it from different angles, as a choreography of voices, inside the work, as an opening up of the text. So the photograms entered into the book, as well as other elements. Photographic images are in general very problematic, they exist, but something is missing, something is always elsewhere, and because of this I have to go through the back door. The photographs - though they are taken at the communities - are not depicting people… therefore they are necessarily also about what I am not showing. I think that when you imagine something it becomes stronger. In that sense, they become abstract images, yet relating to something around us. It is a non restricted space, it is an open space. The book and its space opens up our relationship to language, text and image. It questions how language becomes closed. The presence of the elsewhere always contradicts this closed space. It is about the perception of reality, to enrich reality. I came to think about drawing as a kid….drawing in a perspective, you start to see everything in a perspective…