The PhotoBook

September 22, 2010

Henrik Saxgren – Unintended Sculptures

Copyright Henrik Saxgren 2009, courtesy Hatje Cantz Verlag  and photo-eye

Henrik Saxgren recent photobook Unintended Scupltures is wonderful reminders why in the rush of my daily life that I need to occasionally take time to pause and just observe. He shares with us that located amongst the various and assorted debris of our day to day world, there exists, waiting to be discovered, a plethora of ready-art to be contemplated and enjoyed.

His documentary style photographs investigate the concept of a found “sculpture” as a three dimensional construct now reduced to an even more abstract two-dimensional plane. This also becomes one of the few weaknesses of his book due to his inclusion of flat two-dimensional objects and natural events, although aesthetically interesting, do not appear to be consistent with his theme, even in the broadest of contemporary definitions of what constitutes a sculpture.

 Of particular interest to me are his found sculptural objects which are extracted and conceptually constructed from his everyday experience. The book’s title implies that objects exist, but as a result of personal observation, we can create a new contextual relationship and meaning, that an object does not become a sculpture until we name it as such. In nature there exists no horizontal line although individuals identify and create such boundaries and a resulting photograph of the land becomes a landscape, something that does not exist in nature.

I find that Saxgren illustrates his ability to frame, extract and isolate natural phenomena, abandoned and decaying sites and other structural objects to discover the potential existence of a narrative that encompasses aesthetic beauty, mystery, fantasy, memory, dreams and personal stories.

His unintended sculptures can be interpreted as autobiographical statements about his reaction to natural and man-kind generated elements that he chooses to place into new juxtapositions, combinations within his altered frameworks. By the determination of his composition and exposure, he coaxes out of space things of his own imagination and I believe inspires us to do the same.

Something unknown is wrapped and bound in cloth and string while sitting on a wooden platform seems mysterious. Saxgren then utilizes that mysterious object to create an ominous narrative in conjunction with the darkening, overcast and gloomy sky, while on the right side within the frame is a dark and barren tree in a sea of brown grasses. Page after page is a series of beguiling images, some are so long and horizontal that they span the entire spread of this wide horizontal book. I occasionally found the color images to be overly saturated although the sharply focused photographs provide for a memorizing study of details. This wide horizontal book, verging on becoming oversize, is very nicely matched to Saxgren’s overly-wide horizontal photographs.

by Douglas Stockdale

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