Jan Svenungsson

"Text for Drewen", in: Partie 4 Brandenburgische Kunsttage 1996, Internationales Kunstforum Drewen, 1997

One part of my artistic activities is focused on manipulating the image of a chimney; an industrial chimney of a certain height and built in brick (a material no longer in use for the construction of "real" chimneys).

In 1988, when I had just begun working with photography, I became interested in an industrial chimney still standing in the centre of Stockholm. I photographed this chimney over and over again, under all sorts of photographic conditions, often using photographic accidents as a method. For some of these photos I built special frames that cut out all background. I called these framed photographs "photo-objects".

A few years later, at the Stockholm Moderna Museet, I built a 10 m high chimney as part of an installation incorporating some of my framed chimney photographs. The colour photograph I took of this monumental construction made me aware of the interesting possibilities of architectural photography; of a photographic medium which is "invisible", and totally devoted to representation – but where there is a large amount of manipulation going on in order to produce this transparency.

In my architectural photographs of this chimney-sculpture, and of the following two, the images may not have been manipulated – but the reality certainly was...

When I was invited to take part in the exhibition in Drewen, and was asked if I could think of building my fourth chimney there I said I wanted to reflect upon the implications of such a project, and proposed instead to produce a photograph with a chimney painted in at an ideal location in the landscape surrounding Drewen. If the power of this manipulated image proves strong enough I am convinced that it will one day become reality.

Jan Svenungsson