Katarina Löfström

Jan Winkelmann

An e-mail conversation between Stockholm and Berlin

JW: Only recently I discovered that in almost all of your works there is a horizon. Are you aware of this fact or does it "happen" accidentally?

KL: I haven't given it much thought until you mentioned it to me. It is definitely not something I think about when making the pieces. Of course do I have a close connection to the so called "nature". I grew up in the countryside with a close relation to the forest, to plants, weather, seasons.

JW: I think it is very interesting that you are not particularly aware of this fact. Especially because the horizon is not so "obvious" or "visible" that one automatically would see it as a "red line" in your work.

KL: Maybe I use the horizon as a way of orientating myself, since I often take a starting point in the perception of different kind of lights. Also, my work can seem abstract, but they are always abstraction of something seen though a human eye, and we always deal with a horizon in one way or another, at least in the representation of what we see.

JW: If one does your work not know very well, your earlier videos could be misunderstood as a kind of chill-out-visuals. It is clear where this possible misunderstanding comes from since you use visuals and music which are directly related to each other. Does this wrong reading bother you? Where would you see the difference between your work and a simple visualisation of music, like we can see it in music-videos?

KL: Chill-out is good. I think we all need to chill more. In that sense, I don't think my earlier work is misunderstood. The misunderstanding lies in seeing/making chill-out visuals as non-sense eye candy. The chill-out rooms in clubs serve for the same purpose as my films, as a rest from the stimuli of the club, ones life, the streets and the flow of information.

JW: But where is the difference to "simple" chill-out visuals. Is it only the place where they are to be seen? On the one side the club and on the other side the museum/gallery?

KL: My luxury is that I don't necessarily need to define the difference. It is interesting for me to work in areas that border to the pathetic, to the overtly kitschy, gaudy, common. Taking a starting point in imagery that most people my age are familiar with (MTV, club interiors, fireworks, fun fairs etc.) I create a platform for recognition and reflection. Things might not be what they seem to be if they are peeled off their context.

JW: But what are they, if they are not what they look like?

KL: Cut loose from their purpose (as set designs, club decorations, party enhancers etc,) they get an eerie feeling of loneliness, of helplessness. But they also start working for themselves, speaking their own independent visual language. They become something displaced, like a monolith in 2001.

JW: Your artistic work is very much related to your work as a director for video and commercial advertising films. In which respect does your work benefit from your commercial works and in which way is there a clearly marked difference?

KL: I think working as a commercial director gave me a higher awareness of how to communicate messages through moving images. Which is good to know when. I strive to do the opposite now.

JW: What do you mean by "strive to do the opposite"?

KL: Striving for making work as free from story-telling, messages, timelines, as possible.

JW: To me your works have a lot to do with painting? This fact is very often underestimated or rarely been discussed. I would go even that far to say, that your work has more to do with painting than with video. Would you agree to my hypothesis?

KL: I think both my job as a commercial director and my background as a painter is visible in my work. I often toy with the idea of making the end product of an idea a painting. The problem is that I loose the parameter of time passing when I work in a static media like painting. My work is non-linear and non-narrative. My films are often quite static too, but an important factor for me is feeling the combination of stillness and time passing.

JW: Your earlier works are much more colourful than your latest films, "An Island" and "Tower", where black is the dominant "colour".

KL: Maybe it has something to do with the change of focus between the earlier work (Whiteout, High Noon) and the recent. In the earlier pieces I was very much interested in what happens internally in the eye, when for instance watching bright light. The later films (at least Tower and An Island) is about putting a distance between me and the subject matter.

JW: Where do you get your inspiration from? Your work resembles abstract painting as well as minimalistic visual language. In the latest works one sees almost only blurred geometric "artificial light" spots. everything else, especially everything "natural" is erased (stars, sunlight, water etc.) there is one exception: the thunder-lightning in the "tower-piece".

KL: I am not very interested in abstract painting or minimalistic visual language. Instead I get a lot of inspiration from early Disney movies for instance, and also from early abstract film makers, like Oskar Fischinger and Viking Eggerling. An interesting loop here is that Oskar Fischinger worked for Disney in the 40ies. An avantgarde film maker helping to create what is now seen as the essence of popular imagery.

JW: Could you elaborate a bit on the issue of the role of your interest in "perception"?

KL: We see and perceive the world through our senses. Our eyes are our visual tool, and experimenting with and exploring its function is crucial to me, to understand how I see the world, and with what limitation.

(Text from the catalogue "Katarina Löfström" 2005)