On a sunny day we visited Swedish artist and photographer Henrik Strömberg at the top floor of his new studio and apartment at Köpenickerstrasse in Berlin. Originally from Sweden, he grew up in a small town near Malmö and moved a lot before settling in Berlin. After school he started his career in London doing a preparation course to actually apply for the art academy in Stockholm, but while studying in London he was accepted for the Fine Art BA at Camberwell College of Art and therefor stayed. Concentrating more and more on photography he decided to do his Masters in Photography at FAMU in Prag before going back to Sweden. As he has a lot of friends and galleries in Berlin which he was working with, it felt natural to move here in the end. Living and working at the same place gives him the freedom to go in and out of the world of the studio, gather material, sketch a bit and transform it to something substantial in the end.
We got an intimate insight and a momentary glimpse of his personality and vision as he opened the door to his apartment full of shiny objects, found and reused materials, trophies, cast material and strange things, from which you can’t really tell what it is. We spent the afternoon discussing about his view on photography, the deconstruction of reality and this work as a process.
Although Henrik Strömberg’s medium is photography, it actually deals with the deconstruction and transformation of the photographic image. Most of his images are monochrome. It‘s a subconscious conscious approach to move away from certain questions which often arise in photography – where, when and who. ‘I want to reduce as much information as possible from the usual role of photography and what photography usually does. To use black and white further this idea to go beyond the subject and create narratives without the specificity of story telling‘.
In his new work series he uses parts of deconstructed trophies which are stacked vertically and interlaced with materials such as mirrors, wood, feathers, rocks and paint and then documents them in various stages and in a negative reversed way. The photographs and sculptures are shown in a state of flux, allowing for the possibility of reconstructing and photographing them again and again. It’s a dialogue with the process, a process in which the image is removed from its actual context. The photos are documentations of sculptures that aren’t objects, but occurrences. He explains ‘I work with the idea of photographically documenting something where in the end the photograph itself becomes an object.’
It’s about the ambiguous relationship between what a picture shows and what it really is. His pictures have this reality corrupting force as Henrik Strömberg repeatedly questions the medium of photography. What is a photograph? Is it the explosion of magnesium as camera drenches its subject in artificial light? A piece of paper? How can a photo be more than a photo, be less than a photo, purely a medium, elusive and elemental? In each picture he is committing to art as a puzzle that might never be solved. He invites us to see his pictures as if they were not photographs, to excite us; something that makes sense, but not quite makes sense. In his work lies this somewhat tension, this black material. You can see his works in his upcoming exhibition at Neumeister Bar-Am, starting the 22nd of November.
Pictures and Text by Anke Nunheim