My aim was to write about Björn Larsson’s new book Brandplats 3 (Fire Scene 3) which was chosen as the best Swedish photobook 2013. But first of all I picked up his book ” “In the Midst of Nature with Björn Larsson”. If you do not know what the book is about, you would easily believe that it is a traditional nature study. There is page after page with details from nature, an anthill, a few mushrooms, a hazel grouse and other birds.
But then the images changes character, magpies help each other to build their nest, a marsh harrier taking a vole. Something is wrong. The pictures are taken in Dioramas made by The Swedish self-taught scientist Gustav Kolthoff (1845-1913). Built up landscapes with stuffed animals. What we see is extract from a fictional nature of stuffed birds and animals in environments that will mimic nature. Björn Larsson’s pictures become the bridge between the new and old -time spectroscopic observations. But he also tempted to choose tighter framing and working with shallow depth of field. It’s just the blurriness of the fleeing birds that are missing.
The book concludes with an essay by artist Magnus Bärtås that has its origins in the Greek word Scopion or scope on English used on instruments for recording and observation. The word is related to occupations such as police officers, soldiers and hunters, but also tourists, voyeurs, pornographers and people with different hobbies like bird watchers and other groups that have passions and interests that can not exist without listening or viewing, like photographers.
The book was released in 2006 by Journal publishing house. Today, seven years later, he’s back and wins The 2013 Swedish PhotoBook Prize with Brandplats 3, a ten-year walk in the national park Tyresta, some thirty kilometres away from Stockholm and which burnt down in 1999. Since then, Björn Larsson documents the evolution of the damaged forest Tyresta, in his photographs and adds notes of the criminal investigation and also worldwide news items.
According to the Photobook prize jury, the book is a renewal of the documentary genre. It is a book full of pictures, extracts from police records and articles from the time. The book is designed of Sebastian Wadsted and it’s from my point of view one of the best-designed Swedish photobooks I’ve ever seen. Everything from the brown wrapper, choice of fonts and careful observations to the smell of fire! And of course ten years of images of a forest that has slowly recovered.
Björn Larsson and Sebastian Wadsted allow the forest to spread as panoramas. It’s summer, autumn, winter and spring and again. There is a magnificent stillness in the images, as if the forest just rested, without worrying about the weather or Björn Larsson camera. It is repetitive and contemplative, and somewhere there is a kinship with Gustav Kolthoff dioramas. Buds, shoots and sea of ferns fight for attention. But we don’t see any birds. They are hiding or just fly by. I think I have to go there, if not to hear the birds.
Björn Larsson was born in Lund in 1966. He graduated from the University of Gothenburg in 1992. He lives and works in Stockholm. His work has been shown in various art and photo-festivals, solo and group exhibitions in Europe (Vézelay, Kulturhuset Stockholm, Meppel, The Netherlands), Africa (TownHouse Gallery Cairo, Egypt) and Asia (Seoul, South Korea).
My name is Johan Brink and I’m working as a freelance copywriter with clients such as the Photographic Museum in Stockholm and Apple. I live with my family 30 kilometers south of Gothenburg on the Swedish West coast in a small town called Kungsbacka. And I sure am a collector, typically male isn’t it? It began collecting idol cards with football players as a kid, later there was records, then I found a pottery piece of the Swedish designer Stig Lindberg and I was stuck in ceramics, after that furniture’s from the fifties, sixties and seventies, art, photography, and now photobooks. I ‘m glad we have a big house.