Hello everyone, and Happy New Year! The days are already noticeably longer here in Malmö, admittedly a welcome change. I am now wrapping things up, and I will be returning to the US at the end of January.
This update includes:
- Information on choosing a photograph for those of you whose reward includes a print (donations of $45 & higher) – important: please make your selection within the next week! (see details below)
- A more thorough explanation of how and why the project took shape as it did
For those of you whose reward includes a print (donations of $45 & up), it is now time to choose your picture!
I have created a website which features thirty images from which you can choose. Note the corresponding number below the image. The pictures featured do not represent the final edit of the work.
Go to: www.longthepath.tumblr.com
Choose your picture and send me an email email@example.com with the following information in the subject line: Your name, image number
Example: Subject: Sarah Newman, #6
You do not need to include any other information in your email.
IMPORTANT: Please make your print selection within the next five days, and by Sunday, January 13th at the very latest. For people who don't respond, I will choose a photograph for you. (But better for you to choose it!)
Long the Path
It is difficult to plan to make artwork and be explicit about how that work will take shape when going to a place one has never been. My interest in Malmö, and my reason for coming here to make work, was spawned by the impressive sustainability initiatives in the city. The conception of sustainability here is far broader than what I knew from the US. In addition to environmental innovations (such as wind and solar power), sustainability here is conceived in terms of social sustainability – how communities, and individuals, thrive. This includes uses of public space, city planning, and attitudes about connection, separation, integration, and other factors that affect quality of life.
When I arrived, I wandered with my camera making photographs, talked with countless people, and read about sustainability, and the concept became for me more complex and troubled. The more I learned and observed, the more complicated it became. Part of the trouble is that the things that symbolize sustainability are often not the things that are actually most sustainable, nor are these symbols always utilized for the right reasons: politics and economics are intertwined in sustainability as they are with all things. In a place that does seem more sustainable, in a variety of ways, than any other in which I’ve lived, it also seems that the more sustainable choices (riding a bike, for example), are more practical than the alternatives, which makes them the most popular choices, too. I think most of us make choices guided by pragmatism, though of course what is valued as pragmatic is informed or shaped by other commitments.
I am personally committed to conservation and sustainability, and also very impressed with how things are done here (they’re onto some really great stuff here in Sweden), though the work isn’t about this in the way I imagined it might be. After about a month of searching, I decided to allow myself (and my camera) to be led by the place, and by my heart and intuitions, not just my head.
Incidentally, my first Kickstarter update -- from August 28, a week before I left the US -- hinted at and perhaps anticipated my interest in this more elusive and interior notion of sustainability, what I described as “how we sustain ourselves psychologically.”
As I mentioned in my last update, I decided to approach my work here by using the main bike path in Malmö as a geographic parameter. This idea was inspired, in part, by a map I had seen on a colleague’s wall, where significant paths through the city had been marked in red by urban planners. Cycling here is the norm; it is simply the most convenient way to get around. The main bike path in the city is only a few miles in length while connecting an incredible diversity of spaces. The pictures do not represent the path, but consider and engage subtleties and narratives that I observed or created, reflecting my own (and possibly others’) experiences in a variety of ways. The path ends at the sea, and the sea is felt everywhere in the city, and so water, wind, and skies are present in the pictures.
Additionally, I wanted to work with some text in relation to the pictures, which would make it more discursive while giving it the interior dimension of consciousness. During my time here, I have been in touch with a Swedish writer, R.H., and he has contributed unpublished text from his notebooks for me to use in this work. The text that has appeared on the Tumblr is his. R.H.’s text is part of the totality of the work, while unattached to particular pictures.
Thanks again everybody….