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City Dairy

02.10.2024 - 09.15.2024

Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden

12 days ago

Anders Petersen is one of Sweden's most important and internationally acclaimed photographers and a major influence on Nordic photography. In the spring of 2024, he turns 80 years old and the exhibition at the Hasselblad Center is a tribute to his work and great achievements in Swedish photography.
Anders Petersen?s photographic career began in the 1960s. It was an eventful period when he visited Hamburg and photographed the people at the Café Lehmitz bar, which later became his most notable project. At the same time, he studied at Christer Strömholm's legendary photography school in Stockholm and co-founded Saftra - a collective of photographers and writers focusing on socially critical reportage. He published his first books in the 1970s, while working in photojournalism. In the 1980s, he began to focus on his own long-term projects. In 1984 the book Fängelse was published, the first in a trilogy about closed institutions. It was followed by the books Rågång till kärleken (1991) and Ingen har sett allt (1995), about elderly care and psychiatry respectively. With these projects, Anders Petersen's imagery became more personal and freer than before. It can be described as an intuitively driven and intimate documentary expression, strongly influenced by his desire to get as close as possible to people and their situation.
In 1997, a touring exhibition took a comprehensive look at Petersen's work between 1966 and 1996 (at the Hasselblad Center, among other institutions). He himself has described the exhibition as an opportunity to reflect on the past and as a catalyst for change. He viewed his older material with new eyes, resulting in the book Du mich auch (2002). It consists of previously unpublished images from Stockholm and Hamburg taken in the late 1960s. They form a visual diary and the concept of combining images from different years and places is something he has worked with in several books and exhibitions since then.
In the 2000s, the expression in Anders Petersen's images becomes darker and more contrasting, inspired by contemporary Japanese photography. He spent residencies in cities around the world and it is in connection with this that the concept of the city diary begins to take shape. It became the collective name for the pictures he took both at home in Sweden and in London, Istanbul, Rome - to name a few of the cities he visited. Regardless of the location, however, the aesthetic expression is the same. His work can be seen as a personal diary, where the people, environments, and situations he depicts are also a reflection of his life and himself.
City Diary is the title of his second exhibition at the Hasselblad Center. It features nearly 150 photographs taken over the past 60 years. It combines images from different times and cities to create a flow and a sense of connection between people. The images show slices of life with all its contrasts - the raw and the hard, the vulnerable and the tender. They focus on longing, and people's basic needs and desires - love and community.
Many of the photographs are close-up depictions of bodies, but there are also more classic portraits of individuals with strong personal charisma. We see many images of animals, underscoring the fascination with primitive and fundamental drives. But above all, we see Anders Petersen's deep interest in the people he photographs, which he believes is more important than the image itself: "It was rarely about photography. Not in the first place. It was meeting people, exploring different realities, that was crucial. That's still the case."
(Dragana Vujanovi? Östlind, Chief Curator, Hasselblad Foundation. In collaboration with Angie Åström, Curator).