Photography and domination

Photography (video and film included) is a very dominating medium within contemporary society. A medium that changes how we behave. I would say that photography has affected the modern era within art history more than any other medium.

I started my art practice in School of Photography (Academy Valand) Gothenburg University (2004–2007). Then studied an MA in Fine Art at Konstfack, Stockholm (2007–2011). Currently based as an artist in Stockholm. As well working with art-learning projects and pedagogy at Moderna Museet. Recently two years as artistic leader and pedagogue for Museum Museum, focusing on projects and workshops in contemporary art for young adults between 15–25 years old.

In my art practice I work mostly with photography (mediation), representation and dominating structures. I research and learn about the medium/mediation in connection to socio-political subjects and power relations to break, deconstruct or make this into something freer; like art.

What is photography? The question is getting asked and I do different kinds of experiments that sometime goes into narrow medium specific details. But my art practice is not medium specific. My expressions are variations of performances, installations, sculptures, text, video, pictures and photographs.

A lot of properties of photography is amazing and even magical. Aspects that have led to the strong position of the medium within society. As well, regarding power structures, I am critical of photography in a lot of senses. Research practice and learning about the medium, and art, have given me a lot of freedom in it as subject material. I find this field very interesting and relevant to discuss in the contemporary. My practice gives me further knowledge, perspectives, and understandings of the medium’s limits and possibilities. But still far from grasping it all, and I think art is the best form of research for the subject matter.

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One subject field related to dominating structures is urban construction, city planning and architecture. For many years I have been working in this context in various constellations and projects. For example, The New Beauty Council (Co-founder 2007-2015). I have also started the project Mallrats that has been run and developed with different groups of participants and art institutions since 2012. Some of the institutions that has supported the project are Moderna Museet, Göteborgs Konsthall, Stockholms Läns Museum and Kungsbacka Konsthall.

A mallrat is American slang for a member of a group of mainly youths who hang around in malls without buying anything. It is usually described as an undesirable trash culture. The Mallrats project aims to focus on, and encourage young people to consciously challenge this space and architecture through artistic practices. It´s not about performance art as entertainment but rather as interventions and friction.

Nowadays, public spaces are frequently discussed in architecture, urban planning and art. But most of our time is spent in private spaces. Mallrats is a project built on collective creativity.
The commercial areas and shopping mall spaces are also exceedingly image oriented. This kind of structure and architecture would not exist had it not been for photography. The spaces are not built to make us feel comfortable physically there. As consumers, we are envisioned as viewers who look at things. We are intended to see the advertisements on the premises and the shelves with products of we could potentially buy. Consuming defines our scope of action. To stage interventions and art performances in these spaces is a defiant practice.

Kristoffer Svenberg

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