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Artist of the Week: Joachim Brink – A Swedish dream in dark colors

September 14, 2009 by · 1 comment

Joachim Brink is a freelance photographer and writer based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Born in 1978, he has been an avid photographer since the age of eleven, when he was given an old Zeiss Ikon medium format camera from the 1950s. His photographs have been published in several magazines, and he is a frequent reviewer of books and films. Influenced by aestheticism, mysticism and occult thought, he spends his time photographing, reading, writing or traveling. He is also the singer in the dark gothic band Boleskine.

“Photography provides a keyhole through which I can capture hidden parts of reality. A photograph may depict the real world, but it is still separate from reality, showing only a slice of it. One can experience this without a camera as well: suddenly you see a rather ordinary scene or object from a certain angle in a certain light, and for a moment it is transformed and shines with a light of its own.

Then the moment passes and all returns to normal – and this moment is, of course, what you want to capture with your camera. This is a view that is close to mystic thought. Over the years, I have made it a habit to allow myself to stop and see these moments whenever they appear – often to the annoyance of friends and family.”

Which is the challenge you’d never accept?

Oh, I don’t like challenges, unless I create them for myself.

Do you remember the first image that made a big impression on you?

From early childhood, my parents took me to every museum and exhibition they visited. However, the images that have impressed me the most were those that I experienced in my early twenties. One example of an image that followed me for years is William Eggleston’s photograph of a light bulb against a red ceiling in a red room (Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973). That image – and the rest of Eggleston’s work – is a clear example of what I spoke of above: how an ordinary object is transformed when seen in the right way. Other artists whose works have really made an impact on me include the photographers Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman and painters Francis Bacon and Vilhelm Hammershøi.

If you could live with less sleep, what would you do in those additional sleepless hours?

I do this already – sometimes. What I find fascinating is that when you get more time, you usually do fewer things, and they also become more arduous. The biggest problem is – as always – your mind playing tricks on you. If you start to think about the amount of time that you have, you suddenly have no time at all, and all you can think about are the things that you’d like to do if you only had the time.

So, if I suddenly could live with less sleep, I would (hopefully) not think about the extra hours and all I could do with them, but instead continue doing what I already do, and actually make use of the extra time. Maybe it would be best if you could be like a child that doesn’t know about time but only knows what it wants to do right now and does it.

How do you combine music and photography? Which one is closest to your heart – and why?

There are many things that are very close to me – they are important when trying to define myself and they set me apart from everyone else. Photography is one such defining subject, literature is another, as is music and film. All carry importance in their own way.

Nowadays, I actually label myself a photographer and not just an advanced enthusiast, since I actually make money with my Nikon. Photography is definitely something that has been a very big part of my life for a very long time – nearly 20 years now.

When it comes to music, I have been singing and writing lyrics in Boleskine for more than ten years. I don’t actually think of myself as a musician, but I don’t think of myself as a dilettante either.

What is your biggest dream as a photographer?

I have no grand plan or declaration; I am satisfied if I get recognized for what I do. However, one thing that I strive for in both photography and life is to be able to create and act without interference from my thoughts: to be stream of consciousness, and just do my will without being concerned about the results. Some may find this self-contradictory and pretentious, but I am very sure that many reading this will understand exactly what I mean. It’s all in the Zen-soup with the mystical spices.

Which are the most interesting places you have visited and what does make them special?

Aesthetically, the Icelandic countryside is by far the most dramatic and inspiring place that I have ever visited, and I would very much like to go there again armed with a better camera. The vast volcanic landscape is so intense that it nearly knocks you over; there is a very poetic quality there.
This being said, what makes a place really interesting is how you choose to see it – I’m sure there are many who would visit Iceland and be bored to death with the emptiness. The world is built by fantasy bricks on top of the physical reality.

What bores you?

I have never been easily bored, not even when I was a child. Instead, I could be quite at ease sitting down doing almost nothing. I sometimes used to listen to the silence, and what I found was that it is actually very loud, almost deafening. Most people, when exposed to almost absolute silence (in the wilderness, for example), almost go insane because of the lack of sound. Any noise that they can make to break the silence becomes a relief. If you can feel this loudness in silence I don’t think that you are that easily bored.

Do your photos make a “statement” and if yes, what is it?

I think that Salvador Dalí put it best: “The fact that I myself do not understand the meaning of my paintings at the time that I am painting them does not mean that they have no meaning.”

Should each photo carry a mystery?

A sense of mystery is inherent in all images. Mystery is always best when it is a part of the obvious – I generally think one should avoid trying to create mysteries and riddles; it often only becomes a cheap trick.

What are people’s reactions to your photos?

People often express feelings of solitude and isolation. Some find that the scenes feel haunted by something that is not in the image. Generally, this is what I aim for – images of the ordinary world that shine with a light of their own, as I mentioned above. Quite often, that light can feel unsettling, almost menacing.

I always …

Try to do what I honestly want. Unfortunately I tend to think too much to be completely content.

I would never …

Stray from the chosen path.

More photos by Joachim Brink can be seen here

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