Klara Källström & Thobias Fäldt
May 27 – September 24, 2023
Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt's oeuvre is characterized by a strong social commitment. Their first retrospective exhibition includes works about the media, power, and history. They invite us to be critical of dominant narratives about the world today while examining how photography is used in the creation of these narratives. A crucial part of their work is their great interest in the photo book, which takes a central place in the exhibition; a new book of Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt’s collected works from 2011–2021 is being created in the middle of the show.
A guiding principle in Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt’s oeuvre are the gaps between what is visible and what is told. By exploring the limitations, challenges, and possibilities of photography, the artists aim to unfold and expose overlooked parts of official history as well as contemporary narratives. This is where nuances, critical perspectives, and questions reside. These are the stories that are uncomfortable and difficult. They would most likely have no natural platform if they did not appear in Källström-Fäldt’s projects. We are offered an opportunity to immerse ourselves in captivating stories that reveal new perspectives on the world around us and the ever-changing role of photography.
The artists’ exhaustive body of work on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is perhaps the most striking example of their commitment to exploring narratives that do not fit a certain mould. The ongoing project examines the media image of Assange following his exposure to US war crimes. Looking into the gaps in the Assange story, the artists shed light on anti-democratic forces and attacks on press freedom. Other examples are the projects Europe, Greece, Athens, Acropolis (2011) and 25 Lemon Trees, No Gardeners (2015), which highlight how there seems to be room for only one global media narrative at a time, specifically looking at a series of events starting with the Greek economic crisis, followed by the refugee crisis in Europe, then Brexit, and lastly the Covid-19 pandemic. The key question is: what remains invisible when only one story captures our attention?
In addition to exploring media representations of global events, the artists also investigate forgotten stories that are all but erased from the collective consciousness. The project Village (2013) revolves around the colonial histories of France and Great Britain in Canada, visualized through the erasure of indigenous languages in favour of French and English. In Russian Bang (2012) and The Swedish Matter – or the Issue of the Gramophone Mind (2018), the artists stress the perils of absolute truths and lack of self-criticism – even in democratic societies in the Global North.
Working with both their own images as well as found archival material, Källström-Fäldt combine methods and strategies from the documentary tradition in photography as well as investigative journalism. Collaborations with artists, graphic designers, and authors – not least with journalist Johannes Wahlström – and other creative individuals are an integral part of their practice, and books are their main form of expression. The presentation of the projects in the exhibition at the Hasselblad Foundation reflects that and focuses on the working process, the notion of intangibility, and archival material. In the initial phase of each project, Källström-Fäldt pair photographs with text on simple and inexpensive sheets of paper, creating a form of basic research. From there, the stories evolve into elaborate photo books. Over the past twelve years, the research material has become a comprehensive archive. These documents form the core of the exhibition and their new publication, which includes facsimiles of twelve previously published books. In addition, a selection of images from each body of work are projected onto the exhibition walls with overhead projectors. Contrasting the fleeting qualities of the projections are the unique artefacts collected by the artists, such as pieces of tile from a beach in Israel/Palestine, film rolls from Cuba, and other crucial items of their stories.
A vital part of the exhibition involves assembling 500 copies of Källström-Fäldt’s new book on site in the exhibition space, thus fully integrating Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt’s bookmaking as a natural and central part of a retrospective presentation of their practice.
The book is published in collaboration between Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, B-B-B-Books and the Hasselblad Foundation. It includes a new essay by Duncan Forbes, Head of Photography at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Image: The Fifth Estate, 00:59:46, 2013 (photograph of monitor), from the series Wikiland, 2014
© Klara Källström & Thobias Fäldt