1/ Hi Kajsa, can you present yourself please? Where are you from and what interests you?
My name is Kajsa Johansson, I am 25 and born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. Apart from photography which I studied at both college and university I also enjoy listening to and finding new music, visiting art galleries, making DIY projects and fixing things, cycling etc.
2/ More than ever I would compare Photography to the act of writing. Would you accept this comparison?
Sure, both in more serious situations like in newspapers and in televised news broadcasts as well as in more informal medias such as on blogs and in advertising, I would say that images are increasingly being used to convey a certain message. It is possible to get an idea or a piece of information across faster by presenting an image which can be "read" more quickly than text if it is aptly constructed.
The premise of photography being a form of writing could also be applied to when images are put in a specific order creating a narrative or story-line. Personally I would use this while putting together an exhibition or a monograph since I think different stories can be told if the sequence of the images is re-arranged.
3/ Could you describe what sort of Photography you are doing or attempting to develop? Do you have obsessions whether visual or aesthetical? Is building a visual identity of yours something you strive for? Do you think that there is a contemporary pressure of looking different today?
My photographs are what I see. When I am walking around it is as if my eyes are seeing frames in the scenery that I then catch with my camera. I use a handheld rangefinder camera so all of my photographs are literally captured from my eye level. One obsession of mine is my love for traditional techniques. I always shoot on film and have during the past few years been doing my own printing in a colour darkroom. I prefer these classical ways of photography because they are more of a craft. I like working with my hands as I find that the physical handling of my art makes me understand it better in the aesthetical sense. The entire process from when I press the shutter release button to when I am holding the final print in my hands is tangible in every way.
I believe all photographers and other artists are looking for a visual "voice" or identity that can be recognised. In regards to the pressure of looking different in today's photography scene I think it is all about showing confidence. In the infinite jungle of images we are all being exposed to through media today I think many might feel overwhelmed. If you trust in what you do that will show through your work.
4/ Your Considering Corners really touch me for their simplicity and honesty. But more than that I related to the images for their beauty and suspension. I felt a similar approach to one of my earlier works titled Henorama where all the senses of the artist are alert whilst discovering a new environment. Could you explain that experience and do you think you would be able to photograph the same elsewhere?
As I have mentioned I make photographs of what I see. Often it is of strange or unusual situations, objects that don't seem to fit into their surroundings, things that are lost, misplaced or forgotten. A lot of the time there is a quite dark sense of humour in there too. The places in the photographs make little worlds of their own. They are places that most people overlook because they seemingly have no value. I don't wish to point out to viewers "look at this!", I am merely showing that these glimpses of landscapes exist. These are the things I see when I wander the streets, and I don't think there is much underlying suspension. There is little mystique, the places are what they seem to be.
While on an exchange term in New York I lived in an area in north Brooklyn called Greenpoint where I made a project pre-Considering Corners. I did the same thing there where I walked every street multiple times, always aimlessly and turning a corner whenever my intuition told me to.
This summer I will be moving back to Gothenburg where I aim to continue this particular trajectory of photography by again wandering the streets without a set plan and see where I end up, both geographically and artistically. Seeing as I know my hometown very well I am intrigued to see if I can look at it with the same fresh eyes as I did in New York and London.
5/ Could you explain your practice for this series?
Considering Corners was my final major project at my BA Photography course at Middlesex University. We had over six months to complete the project and I went through some different approaches and directions before ending up with a finished project.
In making Considering Corners I walked every single street around my area in Hackney up and down and on both sides of the road. Not only did I get a full experience of the layout and feel of the borough but I got to see all its nooks and crannies which is essentially what interests me in any given place.
When I am making a photography project, it is a process. I set out by taking photographs while walking the streets of a certain neighbourhood. I then go through the whole developing process until I have a couple of printed images to look at. I need to go through this entire procedure from time to time when I'm producing a project or I won't know where I am, I won't be able to get an overview. When I look at the prints I can decide how to proceed, and in which direction I want to take the project for it to end up in a well edited and cohesive series of photographs. Again and again I will lay out prints and try different edits and sequences.
6/ How would you relate the format, or equipment used, to your approach?
I am using a Mamiya 7 Rangefinder which creates 6x7 medium format negatives. As mentioned this camera enables me to photograph handheld which is my preferred method as I feel using a tripod slows me down, I would rather keep my camera on my shoulder and be able to snap whatever catches my eye as I see it, when I see it. Also, by using a tripod I mostly seem to physically drop my gaze down to a lower level, which is not how I perceive the world around me. To get more technical I really love this camera for the amazing sharpness it generates, the 80mm lens is my favourite because it is very close to how the human eye views its surroundings, the camera is light and quiet for its size and I not only have the privilege to own one but have been able to use this kind of equipment for over two years which I am convinced has affected the way I make photographs.
7/ Are you working on something new? Do you work on several projects simultaneously? How spread are your interests and how do they merge in your work?
I am currently working on a few different projects. One relates to Hackney specifically, especially the postcode area of E8 where I live focusing on the gentrification, the co-existence of new and old, and on its inhabitants.
The other projects all revolve around the urban landscape, its architecture and people. I am also excited to start a new project when I move to Gothenburg, shot in the same style as Considering Corners and Greenpoint. A series of images that I hope can be compared and contrasted to the two previous works and what they may say about these cities.
8/ Any last word or message you would like to share?
Photography is a process of learning through success and failure. Especially when using analogue photography there is no knowing where you are or will end up in your project until you have the prints in front of you. Shoot, try different angles and directions, both literally and figuratively speaking and you might find something you didn't know you were looking for.
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
SHORT STORIES FROM AN AUTONOMOUS SPACE residency this month presents young Swedish photographer Kajsa Johansson with her Considering Corners series. It will be interesting to see how the West End responds to the very poetic works whilst presenting views which are not commonly understood as idyllic. This series is definitely a must in our collection to engage a discussion towards contemporary photography with a wider audience.
Considering Corners is a series of photographs depicting scenes from Hackney that I believe most people overlook or rarely notice. They are glimpses of the urban landscape showing places and objects that seem misplaced or forgotten and one might start to wonder why they are there or where they came from. These sites connect the dots between places of higher value in the cityscape and are quiet little worlds of their own to contemplate. With their subtle humour they become rare treasures to get lost in.
Workshop Coffee Marylebone
75 Wigmore Street
London W1U 1QD
nearest tube Bond Street
open until 5pm daily
Image courtesy of Kajsa Johansson