Almost Perfect is a project [currently a work in progress] in photography and film by the Nordic photographers collective -Moment. In collaboration with curator Susanne Fessé and supported by Fritt Ord, Nordic Culture Fund and Swedish Arts Grants Committee.
In Almost Perfect six artists explore the polarized images of the Nordic countries in six individual photographic projects. Each project takes a starting point in one or more of the traits that we see as defining for the Nordic societies: equality, individualism, beauty and style, secularism, social democracy, nature romanticism. Each artist interprets their chosen theme in light of these key values to reflect today’s realities in the Nordic countries.
The projects of Almost Perfect
The awakening by Elin Berge
Jante by Knut Egil Wang
Sola Fide - Justification by faith by Juuso Westerlund
Beginning of the Party by Marie Hald
Framgångsfrisyr by Chris Maluszynski
In One Hundred Years All Is Forgotten By Eivind H Natvig
Equality and secularism are the starting point for Elin Berge’s intimate documentation of a loosely compound, leaderless, spiritual awakening movement taking shape right now. The women it engages believe in the return of “the original Goddess”, a divine feminine essence that is calling women from inside their own bodies. Elin Berge has gained the trust to take part in different kinds of spiritual women’s circles in Sweden, to capture its people and rituals from the inside. The project raises questions about religion and belief in secular Sweden, as well as looking at a specific approach to individualism and liberation.
A different take on equality and individualism is found in Knut Egil Wang’s search for Jante in the danish town Nykøbing-Mors. The infamous Law of Jante describes a Scandinavian pattern of group behavior that criticizes individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate. «You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.» Jante is a fictional Danish town based on Nykøbing-Mors, but the Law of Jante applies to any small town population and is very much a common Scandinavian mindset.
The welfare state built on social democracy is perhaps the most famous of the key elements of the Nordic model. Juuso Westerlund, who himself is a product of a time when this was the only ideology agreed on, witnesses how this no longer applies today. In his project he finds and portrays neoliberals who do not agree, or even despise these ideas and want to disassemble the welfare state that they themselves are products of.
Social structures and rites of passage into society are the starting points for Marie Hald’s project about youth alcohol culture. In Denmark many activities and parties are arranged by parents with the purpose of sending young boys and girls into the part of their lives where alcohol is a normal setting for every social event. Marie’s project focuses on the Danish phenomenon of “Halfest” (‘Gym Party’) - a discotheque hosted by adults and a usual place for a Danish child to have their first experience with alcohol.
The Natural beauty of the Nordic countries has turned many of its people into nature romantics and inspired them to create laws to ensure everyone’s unrestricted access to it. The Lofoten Archipelago is one of the most stunning places of natural beauty and a unique region for fish, birds and mammals alike. But there is also oil. The debate about drilling for oil has been a hot topic for years. This vulnerable region is already suffering from copious amounts of ocean plastic, heavy metals in the animals living there and an influx of tourists far beyond both human and natural capacity. Eivind Natvig’s project documents the contemporary footprints of an ever-expanding humanity in the pristine arctic landscapes. Thus pinpointing not only a local, but a regional and global environmental issue.
“Framgångsfrisyr” (meaning roughly “The hairstyle of success”) is a term sometimes jokingly used to describe hairstyles with an element of combing the hair back prevalent among Swedish power circles. In neighboring countries it can even invoke associations with an image of superiority stemming from Sweden’s former standing as the superpower of the Nordics.
Chris Maluszynski’s portrait study of successful Swedish men with hairstyles associated with the Swedish elite, takes a lighthearted approach to explore the links between beauty and style, individualism and (national) identity. In order to address the idea of a projected image of oneself, Chris has photographed his subjects through a mirror, so we are seeing the men looking at their own images.
The collective body of work by the six artists will give insight to contemporary Nordic photography, and contribute to expand the understanding of the Nordic societies. Almost Perfect will be launched in October 2018 at Sune Jonsson Center for Documentary Photography, Umeå, Sweden. The exhibition will then go on tour in the Nordic countries. Almost Perfect also includes a series of workshops and public artist talks by Moment artists, moderated by curator Susanne Fessé.