Unintended Sculptures Photographs by Henrik Saxgren. Text by Bill Kouwenhoven and Timothy Persons Published by Hatje Cantz, 2009.
Henrik Saxgren's recent photobook Unintended Sculptures offers wonderful reminders that in the rush of my daily life I need to occasionally take time to pause and just observe. Saxgren shares with us that located amongst the various and assorted debris of our day to day world, there exists, waiting to be discovered, a plethora of readymade art to be contemplated and enjoyed.
Saxgren's documentary style photographs investigate the concept of a found "sculpture" as a three dimensional construct now reduced to an even more abstract two-dimensional plane. This also becomes one of the few weaknesses of his book due to his inclusion of flat two-dimensional objects and natural events. Although aesthetically interesting, they do not appear to be consistent with his theme, even in the broadest of contemporary definitions of what constitutes a sculpture.
Of particular interest to me are Saxgren's found sculptural objects that are extracted and conceptually constructed from his everyday experience. The book's title implies that objects exist, but as a result of personal observation, we can create a new contextual relationship and meaning, that an object does not become a sculpture until we name it as such. In nature there exists no horizontal line although individuals identify and create such boundaries, a photograph of the land becomes a landscape, something that does not exist in nature.
I find that Saxgren illustrates his ability to frame, extract and isolate natural phenomena, abandoned and decaying sites and other structural objects to discover the potential existence of a narrative that encompasses aesthetic beauty, mystery, fantasy, memory, dreams and personal stories. His unintended sculptures can be interpreted as autobiographical statements about his reaction to natural and man-made elements that he chooses to place into new juxtapositions, combinations within his altered frameworks. By the determination of his composition and exposure, he coaxes out of space things of his own imagination and I believe inspires us to do the same.
Something unknown is wrapped and bound in cloth and string sitting on a wooden platform, it seems mysterious. Saxgren utilizes that mysterious object to create an ominous narrative in conjunction with the darkening, overcast and gloomy sky, and a dark and barren tree in a sea of brown grasses on the right side of the frame. Page after page is a series of beguiling images, some so long that they span the entire spread of this wide horizontal book. I occasionally found the color images to be overly saturated although the sharply focused photographs provide for a memorizing study of details. This wide horizontal book, verging on becoming oversize, is very nicely matched to Saxgren's overly-wide horizontal photographs.
Douglas Stockdale is a photographer, author and writer when not working his day job. His photographic projects and stories explore questions from our dreams, experiences and memories. His first self-published book is In Passing and he recently completed his latest photo-project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. He is a photobook critic with his own photo-blog, The PhotoBook, available at www.thephotobook.wordpress.com. Douglas’s web site is www.douglasstockdale.com and can be contacted at email@example.com.