On Mikael Jansson’s Daria, the Archipelago Series
This year marks the centenary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman, a fact that is unlikely to go unnoticed as there will be Bergman-themed weeks and ambitious projects at Dramaten, which was the famed director’s home in theatre for many years. Despite the oceans of time that have gone by and the vast social changes that have occurred since he made Persona, Wild Strawberries, and The Virgin Spring, it’s as though he never left the scene. His significance for Sweden’s international image, and for Sweden’s own sense of identity in relation to concepts like archipelagos, solitude, beauty, and pain, simply cannot be overstated. We are still living in the shadow of his influence. Did Bergman create this himself, or did he simply possess an amazing ability to capture and summarise it in his aesthetics and idiom, aided along the way by his photographer and aesthetic twin soul, Sven Nyqvist? This is a likely train of thought in an encounter with the pictures in this exhibition.
Like Ingmar Bergman, Mikael Jansson has made significant contributions to our time’s canon of images, and has greatly influenced our views on the ideals and dreams of society during his career of more than 40 years. Although, it should be mentioned, he’s done so in a far more reclusive way. Unlike the older icon, who was a fixture of public life, Jansson rarely appears at bustling social events frequented by models. The similarities are all about other things: refusal to compromise, perfectionism, and steadfastly remaining true to one’s vision, with one’s sights set on the non-verbal aspects of the darkness. And, of course, the Swedish archipelago.
Daria, the Archipelago Series started out as a loosely defined assignment for Andy Warhol’s Interview, a magazine featuring photography and stories. It was for an issue published in 2014, themed “The Photographer’s Issue,” and Mikael Jansson decided that this would be the time for him to make a reality of an idea for a project, which he’d been saving for the right occasion. This was it!
The archipelago has always been a source of inspiration for me. There’s something there that is a part of me. I have a very close bond with nature. I love spending time on my desert island, with no electricity or running water. You fish, you go naked. That’s the kind of feeling I was going for here. You could actually say that these photos are self-portraits, in a way.