Inka & Niclas photographs: a mystic, inhospitable nature

By Inka & Niclas. November 19, 2013


Inka Lindergård and Niclas Holmström come from the North. They met while studying photography in Stockholm in 2005 and they've worked as an artist duo since. Four hands, one shutter and a lens face the vastness of nature and landscape and reinvent the sublime with mystery. Their photographs, that seem to evoke a mystical ritual of brilliant sunsets and deep dark waters, talk about that other time right after the apocalypse, a time in which men and women become birds and watch shamelessly the unknown. We discovered the work of Inka & Niclas at number 20 of Unless You Will magazine. We talked to them. Now, their photographs fascinate us even more.

We are totally enchanted by Watching Humans Watching, published by Kehrer Verlag and winner of The Swedish Photo Book Prize 2012. For you, what are the differences between producing a book and an exhibition?

Thank you! Well, first of all a book always feels more permanent, you have to live longer with the decisions you make. An exhibitions is up for 6 weeks or so, and the next time you set it up you can change things around, or it's going to change anyway since the space has changed, a book will be the same. Also a book often demands more material. An exhibition with 20 pieces can be a pretty big exhibition, a book with 20 pieces can be a pretty thin book.

When we do exhibitions we usually do our own printing etc., we have a clear view of everything. Designing books requires a completely different set of eyes and knowledge. It's always interesting to work with graphic designers as they see things from a different perspective. That way it’s a more collaborative and more problem­solving process working with books. You have endless of tools to work with in both cases, but the tools are different.

All in all, we of course like doing both, actually we released the book Watching Humans Watching at the opening of the show Watching Humans Watching. That time we tried to connect the two as much as possible, we had graphical elements of the book on the walls, the placement of the photos in the book were similar to the placement of the pieces and you could walk around in the exhibition reading texts from the book to get another input.

Do you think that somehow your work has something "intrinsically Swedish"?

It's not the first time we get that one. Actually from the beginning we really tried not to be so Swedish in our work. But it is probably a very Swedish thing to think that you can escape being typical Swedish. We do look really Swedish in person though.

Three things that make you curious.

Deep waters.
Nature photographers and ornithologists.
Driving around in places we haven't been before.

Name an artist, personality or anonymous person that has somehow influenced your practice.

Well, we have listened to every podcast ever made by radiolab at least twice while working.

What project are you working on right now? You are in the middle of the process of producing a new book, right? Can you tell as a little bit about it?

We have just sent in the finished file for proof­printing and are happy about it so far, it's going to be a nice book. It's a smaller limited edition publication done in collaboration with Conveyor Arts as part of a book series called The Visible Spectrum Series. In the book we are presenting works from 3 series: Becoming Wilderness, The Pentagram Position and The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth mixed together. Some of the photographs haven't been shown anywhere else before.

Thematically, a lot of the photographs are connected with the SAGA series from our last book. We are still working with the representation and common image of nature and landscape. We have also kept our interest in the psychological powers the sunset possesses. In Saga we went around applying colors of the sunset on to various scenes and objects, trying to transfer the magic.

In The Belt of Venus and The Shadow of the Earth we are still carrying out the same idea but now we are also more interested in the act and rituals of taking a photograph. In that series we are trying to camouflage rock formations by the shoreline into the sunset behind using a flash and filters, obviously failing. The fact that the stone really were magically glowing in this sunset ­colours for a 1/1000 of a second and we couldn't even see it happening there at the moment is fascinating. The actual short moment when the shutter is pressed, the flash goes off and the camera with it ́s mechanical nature translates and transforms the physical reality into a photographic one, is something that we are fascinated by and have worked a lot with throughout the book. The photograph becomes not just a product or a proof of the performative act but in itself a little piece of magic.

What do you see if you raise your eyes from this question?

A couple of framed works leaning against the wall, at least 7 or 8 pretty big unmounted prints in rolls stacked together in the corner, they either have some really small defect, like a tiny dust spot we didn't see until we did a really big print or they just didn't make it in the final moment before heading to the framer. Inka has just totally burned some popcorn so everything smells like fire and the kitchen is totally filled with smoke. There're two big wooden sliding doors that are half­ open, on the other side there are bookshelves and in the middle, between the books, there’s a gypsum face cast of Inka's grandfather when he was maybe 6 or something. Outside the two windows it's just black, if the first snow came tonight it wouldn’t be a shock.

What is the soundtrack of this interview?

John Duva Guds Hämd Är Satans Smör (John Duva – Guds Hämnd Är Satans Smör). 

Inka & Niclas at Unless You Will #20:

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