Anders Krisár
Transformation processes: rendering the invisible visible and the visible invisible

By Iris Müller-Westermann

Chords No. 1-17 (2001/02)

At first glance, one might think that Anders Krisár's 17 large photographs from the islands of Seychelles would be advertisement images from a travel catalogue. Splendid, untouched nature views with white beaches, palm trees and cliff formations spreads out in front of the viewer. Krisár's images conjure up a world of unreal beauty at the border of supernatural perfection. No human being ever seems to have set foot in this paradisical landscape. It is a world where the heaven is mirrored in the words truest meaning  - the earth is lightened in tones of pink, blue and orange. By looking at the images one gets a feeling of Eternity. 

Into these perfect paradise worlds enters chance in the form of cows. Suddenly they are there, move and appear partly as unsharp shadows and partly as headless bodies between the sand, the sea and the sky. They bring a feeling of this world into the world of sublime light, and introduce the dimension of time and transition.

Anders Krisár's photographs are the opposite of incidental snapshots. For weeks he patiently positioned himself early in the morning with his large format camera in order to take the motifs in the light of the rising sun. Of hundreds of images, he has chosen only the 17 which he regards as good enough. The long exposure times of the images render an extreme sharpness, giving the impression that each and every smallest detail is visible in Krisár's images, and that nothing is hidden to the eye.

Even if Anders Krisár has not manipulated his photographs digitally, the gigantic cliff formations in Chords No. 1-3 look artificial, as taken from a film scenery for a Hollywood science-fiction movie. And the light in Chord No. 3, for example, is as dramatic as one would imagine right before the end of the world.

At the side of each photograph, a set of headphones have been installed. The artist has composed a piano chord for each image, to be listened to while looking at the picture. Something strange happens when the world of the image melts together with sound: It is as if the tones decomposes the landscape. The actual chord destroys the perfect surface of the image in a subtle way, thus intensifying the increasing sense of inexplicable uneasiness.

Family Matter (2003)

Family Matter also deals with landscapes and transformation processes, or more precisely - it deals with faces which are transformed into epic landscapes. In front of a black velvet background, denying the narrative, the casts of the faces of the artist's closest family have been photographed. On the five images, the neck and the ears are not visible. Only the light coming from the right side gives the faces form and contour.

The artist's mother forms the center. She is flanked on her right hand side by her two sisters and on her left hand side by her two sons - Anders' brother and outside left the artist himself.

The faces remind us of death masks, seemingly distant and taken out of time. The skin of the faces with their closed eyes attract the viewers gazes in a magical way: What is hidden under the surfaces? What kinds of life do they have? What kind of thoughts do they think? Which dreams and hopes do they have? What anxieties and secrets? The image of the mother in the middle is the power field and center of Family Matter. Her skin is tense, feelings of unreleased pain seem to boil under the surface. The cover of the surface is only kept with difficulty. Does this have an impact on the other members of the family?

By concentrating more on the faces with their hights and depts, with their lines and wrinkles, they become projection mirrors in which the spectator reads his own stories.

On a base in front of the photographs, there is an ingot of metal. It is the raw material from which Anders Krisár has cast each mask. This clot has taken on all forms. It has been transformed into the face of the mother, has become the faces of the sisters and of the sons. Finally, as in the beginning of the artistic process, it is transformed back into a neutral piece of matter. Each mask exists only as a transitory state. After it has been photographed, it has been melted and used for the cast of the next face. Paradoxically enough, the casts in Anders Krisár's family matter are as transitory as life, and they finally exist only as photographs and in memory.

The ingot which could take on every possible form becomes a metaphor for the blodband between the family members, which is underlined by the physical likeness of the faces. But nevertheless, it is just the unfamiliar, the unique and individual, which fascinates the onlooker.

Hiding the Hidden (2003)

In each of the three big size park scenes of Hiding the Hidden, a tree plays the central role. Trees are mighty and mysterious beings. In art and mythology, they are often compared to human beings. Or they may be considered "Vårdträd" on old farms, protecting the people living near them. In Krisár's compositions, the trees are strong. They are colums. They give direction and provide protection. Nevertheless, only a part of the trunk is visible - not the whole tree with its crown reaching into the sky.

The artist claims that behind the central tree of each picture, there is his father or mother. The parents are invisible in the photographs, but this depends on how you look at it; Are they hidden behind, shadowed by, or do they melt together with the tree? This seems to be a paradox, because the extreme sharpness of the photographs suggests that the eye does not miss a thing. However, the artist is successful in his trick of hiding the essential. The knowledge of the presence of the invisible charges the images with energy, and triggers the beholders imagination. The bark of the trees calls forward further associations with the skin of the faces in Family Matter.

While art mostly deals with making the invisible visible, Krisár makes the visible invisible.

Flesh Clouds (2003)

In front of old masonry on a court, paved with hundreds of years old bricks, there hovers a pink, unsharp, cloudlike shape. Is this a manifestation of energy from times long passed? Could it be the echo of all human beings who have passed the spot throughout the years? An echo of happy people as well as sad. Of the busy and the bored. Of old and young, sick and healthy. Of people in love, and those disappointed. Imagination makes visible all the stories the masonry has experienced, and this thought is as fascinating as it is frightening.

Krisár tells how he, in the very early morning hours in high summer Stockholm, moved naked in front of the camera together with a group of people. Because of the long exposure time, the presence of all the naked, moving people is only recorded as a shadowlike, unfocused shape. Physical presence is transformed into absence. Time and transition can be experienced.

Anders Krisár's world of images circles again and again around the question how photography can be used in new ways outside of the perfect reproduction of reality.

His images possess a strong suggestive power. He searches for the invisible behind the visible, and the visible behind the invisible.

Iris Müller-Westermann

Curator at Moderna Museet, Stockholm