From Back Home: Photo- Parallels from Sweden
What the fringes of Sweden have to do with a scavenger hunt for creative influences.
By Maria Popova
Anders Petersen and JH Engström are two of Sweden’s best-known photographers, equally iconic yet with creative styles that couldn’t be more dramatically dissimilar. What they do have in common, though, is that both hail from the remote and sparsely populated Värmland region in western Sweden, a place where man and land develop a rich understanding and an intimate relationship.
In 2001, the two photographers embarked upon a seven-year collaboration to capture their own connection to the people and landscapes of Värmland. The result was From Back Home, a fascinating photobook split in two parts, each containing one photographer’s unique interpretation of the subject matter.
What’s particularly intriguing about the project is that Engström, 25 years Petersen’s junior, worked as his assistant in his creatively formative years — so the book almost becomes a game of trying to spot the older photographer’s influence over the style of the younger, making it all the more interesting and challenging to find the subtle common undercurrents in the vastly divergent visual styles.
The two offer a curious counterbalance to one another’s propensities, at the same time making the distinct style of each all the more palpable in the face of the other. Against Petersen’s blend of romanticism and gravity lies Engström’s irreverence and diffusive playfulness, offering both an antidote and a taste-enhancer to each other.
Though the book won the 2009 Author Book Award at Rencontres d’Arles, it is now, tragically, out of print. But you can steal a rich glimpse of it in this excellent LensCulture spotlight slideshow, complete with an insightful review by curator Marc Feustel.
Published May 27, 2010