Eva Klasson – From the Moon and Back
Le troisième angle, created during a few months in the mid-70s, have since become iconic keystones of photographic art history, and core elements of the impressive photographic collections of Moderna Museet. A few years later, another innovator and breaker of new ground within the expanding fields of postmodernism and art began to use her own body to achieve a shift in the habits of seeing: object – subject. Her name was Cindy Sherman, and the pictures were Film Stills (1977–1980). But Eva Klasson did it first. Here’s her story.
It was the magical summer of 1969, and in a dark room in Gothenburg, a woman in her early 20s was developing the pictures an entire world was waiting breathlessly for: the photographs from the moon. The crew of Apollo 11 brought along a Hasselblad camera, and soon, millions, perhaps even billions, would finally get to glimpse something that humanity had dreamed about since the dawn of time. To get to see something nobody had seen before. But nobody, not even Eva Klasson, as the young woman was called, knew that she would soon be in a different dark room, this one in Paris, developing pictures she had taken herself, of herself. This time, the exploration would be of a territory that most probably expected to be fully charted, but which would prove to house whole undiscovered worlds. These pictures would redefine photography, liberating it from controlled documentation to the existential, the immediately experienced. The third angle.
Eva Klasson was born in the rural outskirts of Borås in 1947, and began to dream of a career in photography at an early age. This was during the golden age of the weekly magazine, with their glossy pages of black and white photographs of long-legged models, gorgeous actors, and horrific visual reports from famines and war in distant lands. She found work as an assistant for various photographers and learned the fundamentals of the craft. After a while, she was thought to be skilled enough to apply to the most prestigious school for all those who dreamed of working as photographers: Fotoskolan in Stockholm, which was founded by Christer Strömholm and Tor-Ivan Odulf.
I stayed for three weeks. After that, I’d had enough. I wasn’t happy there, and I didn’t want to be there.
And that was that. She never actually met with Strömholm, the master, during those short weeks. But they would soon meet again, in rather surprising circumstances: as equals, rather than as master and student.
After leaving the school in a hurry, she ended up in Gothenburg, at the Hasselblad factory, where she developed the pictures from the moon. (“When Hasselblad himself was home, he would fly his flag!”). Some friends decided to get a jeep and drive down to Paris, and she tagged along. She embarked on a new chapter of her life with 1,000 kronor in her pocket and her Nikon hanging off of her shoulder. In Paris, she lived the bohemian life, and everything was new: new friends, a new language. Among many new encounters, a truly remarkable one occurred.
One day, I met the manager of Institut nationel de l’audiovisuel, in Bry sur Marne, just outside of Paris. He was very impressed with my technique and encouraged me to experiment. “Take pictures of yourself,” he said. I began trying things out. How would I go about taking pictures of myself? You see, I wasn’t making portraits, or self-portraits, or nudes. I was inverting the perspective, placing the mental focus in front of the camera, rather than behind it. It was about the body, not about looking into the camera. These pictures would never have worked if I’d been looking into the camera.