New housing project, Älta, Sweden



Photographic public artwork on entire garage glas facade and texts burnt into wooden boards on new housing project by Wallenstam in Älta outside of Stockholm, Sweden. (With ArtPlatform)

In my research for this project I found a book about the history of Älta. It contained ordinary images from peoples photo albums. There was a lot of interesting photographs but one in particular caught my attention. An old photo of a 10 year old Dagny and her big bike on her way into a forest pathway.

It was something special with Dagny and the way she looked into the camera. She looked at ME. Directly and intense. It was like she was trying to tell me something. Like she wanted to take me with her onto that path.

This was meant to be. It had to be Dagny. I was the chosen one to tell her story. I would make her visible and eternalized. She would be the face of Älta. Dagny was born in Älta in 1925 and died there 1973 only 48 years old.

The garage where she would be the covergirl is filled with big cars so in a way Dagny on her old bike became a symbol of a a slower and less stressful life.

A very nice thing was that her family told me that the photo of Dagny with her bike was taken more or less at the same place as the garage is now standing. She is back on the same forest pathway.

To get the feeling of movement on the facade I used the same image three times after each other but in different ways.

First comes the small original entire image, then a closeup then an ever bigger closeup where only Dagnys blurry face is left. On the outside you see the entire images and on the inside you see parts of the images as you enter a new floor.

Outside the garage is three wooden alcoves to sit. On the wooden panels Dagnys own handwriting from texts in her photo albums are burnt into the panels. Short texts that she had written by hand under each photograph. The text are there but the photographs is missing so up to the one seated to use once imagination. The texts are placed the same way as in the albums and they runs from winter to fall.

During the opening ceremonies we also made an exhibition with Dagnys painting and drawings – it seemed that this was her biggest interest in life making hundreds of drawing and paintings that her husband Börje now 90 years of age has stored his entire life. Most of them still hanging on his walls at home. We borrowed them and made an exhibition at the culture house in Älta. Also a sound recording was made with her husband Börje taking us through their photo albums.    

One nice detail in this project is that it is almost impossible to photograph Dagny on the facade. She seems not to stick on the film. And the last photograph is so enlarged that Dagny almost gets blurry, she disappears into the forest – forever.