As the collators of extraordinary culture from around the world, we look high and low to introduce you to some carefully-selected unsung creatives. But every so often we find someone on our very own doorstep.
So, hailing from our corner of southern Sweden, meet Linn Elaine Dahlgren, the minimalist photographer keeping it all pure and simple.
So then, how would you describe yourself?
HSP (highly sensitive person), explains almost everything. I’m also very impulsive. Impatient and patient. I know, contradictory, but true. Obsessed.
Interesting characteristics! Why photography?
It’s not an easy career path – I’ll be honest! I have never defined myself as a photographer. I think ‘artist’ is closer, maybe because I study at Konstfack (Sweden’s top art university). But what’s the difference? Definitions and titles are hard to handle. For me, photography has evolved to become one of the most important tools for my artistic process. Photography is as much sketching, as it is documentation or completion.
So, a student and a photographer, how does that work out for you?
I won’t allow my process to get too deadly serious. Letting go of control and letting myself be guided by the mistakes- that often is what inspires me the most. But it’s also the hardest thing to do. This process occurs most often when questions and problems arise that have to be solved. For example, when it comes to materials or tools that I have to learn to deal with. I have to drop the idea of time.
According to you, what’s the definition of “Scandinavian” when it comes to art, and in particular, your art?
Geometric. Subtle. Quiet. Bright. Of substance. These are characteristics of Scandinavian style. Overall, I find it mostly conceptual. Something you have to put yourself in, in order to understand or feel. Geometrical elements are evident. Even subtle details, often unpredictable. The surface is clean and organised, although the process has been the exact opposite. A result of a complex path that ultimately results in simplicity.
Is being a Scandinavian part of your brand, or is minimalism your trademark?
I am well aware that what I do would be defined in the category of Scandinavian minimalism
, but I don’t think like that. By putting myself in that compartment, I restrict myself and everything that inspires – it’s bigger than that. The road to such an uncluttered surface is more complex than people think. I have gone round and round and set myself in stark contrast to the minimalist, as well as for maximalism.For me, the result is the same.
Your pictures are very white and minimalist. Tell us about your choice of aesthetic and what you’re trying to convey?
I study how white has an impact on people and myself. How white confronts people when it becomes a clear encounter with one’s self. It can evoke discomfort and an empty feeling. But sometimes it’s the only colour that makes people calm and satisfied. Right now it’s an obsession for me. White gets away with so much. What I want is to transform white into something slightly rougher.
What inspirations you? Sweden perhaps?
I try to go to the subconscious for inspiration. Examine what my brain is registering. Chance inspires me, mistakes as well. Everything I can’t control. Sweden as a country does not inspire me, or, maybe it does, but on a subconscious level.
Yet, being Scandinavian and your art falling into the category of Scandinavian Minimalism, among others-is it a plus or a minus to export your talent abroad? It can be both a plus and a minus. I am inspired and learn from many cultures, even if it looks like I have a “typical Scandinavian” portrayal.
Any tips for Scandinavian photographers? What about those outside Scandinavia looking in, how might they better understand Scandinavian art?
I think that you have to immerse yourself in whatever it is you are considering. People are manic when it comes to understanding. You’ll find the answers if you stop trying to ‘get it’ and focus more on just feeling it.
What’s in the pipeline?
I’ll be working with a Hasselblad camera for an extremely detailed, large scale format. There will be a series of experiments on how something fleshy and grotesque can seem to appear very attractive and beautiful. Until the viewer sees what it is. I want it to be psychologically stressful.