Jan Svenungsson

A travel story

Australian artists Alex Rizkalla and Julie Davies returned to Melbourne from their stay at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin with the idea to start an exhibition series (in Melbourne) focused on exchange and collaboration between Australian and European artists. Supported by the Victoria Arts Council the exhibition series "h - an International Project" was launched in September 1997.

In April 1998 JS travelled to Australia to exhibit together with Melbourne artist Terri Bird, who had already involved JS in her work for the show.

Generously provided with a project grant from IASPIS, in Stockholm, JS had decided to use the opportunity to:

A. make a stopover in Korea on the way to Australia, to see what condition, if any, the Taejon chimney was in, and

B. make work en route, to be shown in the exhibition. (This is an unusual practice for JS, who loves to take all possibilities to control his work.)

The chimney turned out to be in good condition, in reality looking better now than at the time of the Expo. Now - five years later - the surrounding futuristic buildings where in various states of decay, whereas the brick of a chimney only change for the positive in five years. The park was kept open as a "Science Park" (motto: "Science is your Friend") but was occupied, if at all, mainly by Korean marriage couples with photographer entourage. One couple was seen taking up position by the chimney, but unfortunately JS was too far away to catch this scene on film.

The work done during the trip consists of four photo-collages, each an attempt to recreate as precisely as possible (by the way of photos put together in a grid) the visual structure of a Test painting. Each painting was "photographed" during a specific period of time – and in a specific area. Lots of film was used. The practical emphasis was on form, while the hidden agenda was all on content... The method was given the name "Photo-Mapping". The following works were produced:

"Photo-Mapping Test 3" ---------- March 31 (Berlin)-April 2 (Kimpo Airport, Seoul)

"Photo-Mapping Test 25" --------- April 2 (Seoul) - April 5 (Seoul)

"Photo-Mapping Test 74" --------- April 4 (Taejon)

"Photo-Mapping Test 109" -------- April 6 (Sydney)

30 films where exposed, and the collages assembled in Melbourne, in Alex Rizkalla's studio on Albert Street, West Brunswick, in the days before the show opened on April 15.

Terri Bird for her part had prepared installations of objects and materials that aimed to copy in three dimensions the photographs JS had made in Paris, which in their turn copied Bird's detail photographs from the space of "h." (formerly used by a clothes-making facility) Needless to say, the installations were on the same place as where the original photographs had been shot.

JS decided not to install the new work Psycho-Mapping Europe, that had been brought along, for lack of space (later in 98 it was to be included in another show in Melbourne), but did install:

the Psycho-Mapping Scandinavia series in the form of a spiral, over a corner

the four Photo-Mappings (Berlin, Seoul, Taejon, Sydney) together with their corresponding Test paintings

+ a special Australian Psycho-Mapping work, prepared for this occasion.

In order to provide an entrance to the complexities of these works JS wrote a Dictionary of Words and Names to accompagny the exhibition.