Jan Svenungsson

Backstory – Olli Jalonen: yhdeksän pyramidia, Otava, Helsinki 2000

Early in 1999, acclaimed Finnish writer Olli Jalonen invited J.S to provide images for his novel yhdeksän pyramidia (nine pyramids) which he was in the process of writing. The discussions that followed led to a project for which JS would travel to all the nine cities which figure in Jalonen's text and take photographs - the story concerns an obsessed man who builds pyramids out of different materials (such as snow; ice; coal and mud; light; fire, etc) at specific locations in nine European cities. As the book begins the work is finished and the man and his two assistants travel on a whirlwind tour to all the cities to see the final result.

Jalonen first asked JS to make manipulated images that would visualise the finished pyramids at their respective locations, and JS accordingly set out to photograph these places. It later became clear that this approach was not workable, and JS then opted for a solution in which the book includes pages from the man's (imaginary) sketchbook, made at the beginning of his project. At the time the man in the story would have been scouting locations and making notes for his different constructions. In the finished book illustrations each city has one double page, with a location photo, and a page of drawings. On the cover is a manipulated image of the half finished pyramid in Krakow.

Yhdeksän pyramidia was published by Otava in spring 2000, to coincide with a JS one-man exhibition at Hippolyte Gallery in Helsinki - which was an independent photo project developed from the same travels.