Featuring Artist Patrik Elgström
September 8 – October 15, 2016
The Blue Star Contemporary Berlin Residency Program elevates the international contemporary art landscape and fosters global collaboration through our partnership with the Künstlerhaus Bethanien. Each year, Blue Star selects 4 San Antonio artists for three-month residencies in Berlin, where they join 24 other artists from around the world. Building on this exchange, Blue Star is pleased to welcome fellow Künstlerhaus Bethanien resident artists to San Antonio, further fostering our international collaborations and mission to nurture San Antonio’s art community.
In Winter 2015, Blue Star presented Landscapes by the Book, a video by Norwegian artist Bodil Furu (KB resident from January 2014-15), which explored how modernity has altered the landscape of Fron, Norway. Obstacle by Patrik Elgström is the second exhibition developed as a result of Blue Star’s relationship with the KB, presented in partnership with Trinity University at the Michael and Noemi Neidorff Gallery. Elgström was a resident at KB from October 2014-15.
Patrik Elgström is a photographer who finds his motifs during walks in his immediate environment, which he investigates with a camera and maps out subjectively. In recent years, Elgström has been working on a long-term project in his home city Göteborg; Blockingis a photo series produced in the vicinity of the river Göta Älv, which flows through the city – a subjective description of a place including its history and present. It has changed over the course of time, parallel to shifts in the city’s center and periphery.
The starting point for Elgström was a focus on “things in the way”, which block the view. Instead of classic motifs like landscapes, Elgström photographs architectural structures made from massive materials such as stone or concrete or rather, details of them. The shots are always empty of human beings; the spaces in the pictures appear self-contained and do not open up to either the outside or the inside. Elgström continued this approach in his project Obstacle.In Berlin, his walks led him through the city’s historical power center, to places that now represent a different past Berlin. The structures of architecture and the materials they consist of, represent different layers of time and historical epochs. These places were completely unfamiliar to Elgström, which gave him a neutral standpoint in respect to the object photographed and facilitates the intuitive working method he prefers.
“Over the past years, I have been working on two bodies of work shot in two cities Berlin in Germany and Gothenburg in Sweden. In each series, I work silver based with a large-format analog camera. I photograph architecture as a surface to project narrative, philosophy, politics, ideology and psychological expression. I research by walking, mapping and exploring. Through physical practice and experience, I make the city into something familiar. Via intuition and emotion, I select my motifs. Fundamental to my narrative is that I have knowledge of what I speak about and work with, to have first-hand experience, and not to speak for the other.
Blocking, a series shot entirely in Gothenburg, is a subjective spatial depiction of an area with a historical and material value that is growing and changing over time. My point of departure in Blockingwas to focus on what is in the way, what is blocking the view, what is obscuring our contact with the river, rather than something that is a classic photographic motif such as a scenic view or portrait.
In Obstacle, shot in Berlin, the questions I asked were how does one make a city one’s own? How is it possible to even think of taking photos in a city where everything is so laden with history and, in a sense, transformed into an image? The studio served as a starting point, as the hub of the story. I then worked through the historic center of power, out and past the areas that form another Berlin.
I focused on the spaces formed between houses and buildings. That space is a pause waiting to be explored. The walls that separate the inside from the outside, the negative spaces left after something has been built up, something that we pass every day, this is a volume which extends out, something between the wall, street, and sky. We notice this space usually when something is demolished. It will be empty. A physical hole in the city has been excavated. Something that once was. If I close my eyes, what do I see? The sight gives me the feeling of space. I shape the space in my mind. I hear the height by the bird’s song. The leaves form walls of an acoustic room. Opening my eyes, I give attention to objects in front of me. I objectify my surroundings. I focus on the pause between open and closed, between the house and the street, the break between the act of taking the photo and the moment that I actually see the image I took.
The space or time when an image wanders between a potential to an actual photograph is central to my practice. It forces me to be present in my own work. This presence is something I want to simulate and bring into an exhibition. For Blue Star Contemporary and the exhibition at Trinity University´s Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery I will bring my work into a new context and surrounding, even a new continent, combining the two and form them as a whole with the title Obstacle.”
For more information visit Patrik Elgström’s website