Paus 1, 2003, Pencil on paper 26 x 29 cm
How would you describe what you were working on when you were awarded the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Scholarship and what did the scholarship mean to you?
I had begun some sort of exploration of landscape and identity and was drawing portraits of spruces in pencil whose titles served as a kind of reference. Pointing through a German forest, Turkish spruce from the Taurus Mountains, Snusmumriken in Elbedalen. It was the same with the exhibition titles. In 2002 I received the Bror Hjorth Scholarship for young cartoonists and named the exhibition A Political iconography of the forest landscape. My departure show was called Yosemite National Park (A The recollection of Wilderness). It was a slide show installation after a trip made in the tracks of eighteen hundred photographers and artists such as Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge and Albert Bierstadt. I took landscape pictures where I sometimes turned the camera on myself as a reverse portrait of Caspar David Friedrich where his people turn their backs. I was incredibly happy and honored to receive the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Scholarship. I had just graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Malmö and was a student fellow at Iaspis so a lot was happening.
What discussions characterized the art scene at this time and what was particularly important you?
I say relational aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud. In the spring of 2003, I went to school last year Malmö and Critical Studies had just started. Charles Esche came from the Proto Academy in Edinburgh to Malmö and Rooseum. It was socially-oriented art. You saw all the exhibitions and it was a very fun period. How it mattered to me is harder to answer. I was in the middle of it but at the same time felt covered in dust with completely different references to my art. I had begun to spend time in archives and would continue with that for the next few years. Another thing that characterized the art scene was the discussion about art as research. I was often asked the question if that's how I saw my artistry and was also rewritten with such wordings.
What exhibitions, films and books were important to you and what music did you listen to?
Carl Fredrik Hill at Malmö Art Museum. The music I listened to came from my friend Martin Jacobson who I got to know at school and had long, fine studio conversations with. He introduced me to Will Oldham, Bonnie Prince Billy and Palace Music. Martin also showed me Daniel Johnston whose drawings I started collecting. In the studio, I had Walden by Henry David Thoreau as an audiobook, but I never think I listened to it. It was the same when I read it.
If you would point out any person that you perceive as particularly influential in Swedish art at this time, who would it be and why?
For me, it was Gertrud Sandqvist, Lars Nilsson and David Neuman, linked in one body and event.
How would you describe the social and political climate that prevailed, were there any questions or events that particularly affected your work?
I was in a process of my work that didn't focus too much on what was happening all around me, as I said before, the references were more historical and retrospective. After all, the foundation always needs to be built to see and understand one's time, and I was looking for that. I read a lot about the roots of Swedish nationalism.
When you look back and compare the art scene then and now, which are the most eye-catching changes?
I may not be able to answer the question, but one thing I think about is the great attention and focus the drawing got. Instead of the return of painting, they talked about drawing. Mårten Castenfors did a big drawing exhibition at Liljevalchs that I was in: In Line ... Swedish drawing for 100 years with artists such as Ernst Josephson and Carl Fredrik Hill, Bror Hjorth, Nils Nilsson, Vera Nilsson, Lena Svedberg, and Lena Cronquist. Jockum Nordström and I were at the time regarded as young artists. To be put in such a context was staggering. It works well with a focus on different types of art at different times, they are produced again, given light and appears until their rightful place is worn. In recent years, textiles have received the same attention which has led to the featuring of many female artists, often with monumental works being highlighted, and they have gained a larger audience. Hannah Ryggen for example, who got a central place in the last Documenta and shown at Moderna in Malmö now in the fall of 2015.
What are you working on today?
There were a few years when I didn't draw, but I'm doing it again now and I'm glad. And I also work with textiles. For some years now I have had the opportunity to make several larger textile works, each time together with HV Ateljé and the collaboration with them has opened a whole new world to me. I have a loom in the studio, but every major work must have a hand application of someone on HV.
This is an excerpt from Samlade stipendiater! 30 år med Maria Bonnier Dahlins stiftelse, by Niclas Östlind, (red.) (2016). Stockholm: Bonnier fakta.