Monday, April 18, 2011

Lars Tunbjork began his career photographing for newspapers in his native sweden. When he came to refine his techniques in his later work the journalistic style that observes and critiques human existence is prominent. In his 1993 publication A Country Beside Itself he documents the Swedes at leisure. His approach echoes of Martin Parr in Britain, or William Eggleston in Memphis. Capturing the human experience of a place and making it applicable beyond the boundary of its own culture. He Incorporates a slight cynicism that shows a photographic opinion as opposed to pure documentary exercise. Much like animals in the zoo we see the unconscious actions of the subjects photographed as a comment on their way of life. In the way that William Klein provoked his subjects to exposed the their emotion response to their surrounding Tunbjork shows the workers sentiment by showing what they don't want exposed.

Tunbjorks series Office is a collection of images taken in the modern day office. A comical collection that reflects the commercial banality against the individual struggle against the corporate collective. Sterile interiors of different offices that share the generic elements of neon lights, computers, canteens, filing cabinets and wiring systems. Photographed with little reference to the outside world as if this place is a self contained bee hive with workers unconsciously working for some higher power. The anxious tension implies an unseen driving force. Occasional signifier of hierarchy differentiate workers by office size and tidiness, with those at the bottom in cramped surroundings. The human interactions in the surroundings break its rigid outfit. Exposing the unorthodox use of the office assembly makes the whole thing part of nature opposed to a machine. In workspaces designed for a robotic worker, the human inevitable breaks out. Activating the space with human imperfection.

The use of light in the photographs, overexposed and surreal gives a harsh cynical eye to these common scenes. However the overall expression is one of harmonious melancholy. Tunbjork highlights the struggle for individuality in the corporate world. By showing the bleakness of the office infiltrated my the awkward comedy of the human he makes a poignant statement about the 21st century work habitat.

I propose to curate and write about the work of Lars Tunbjork focusing on the photographers ability to represent typical scenes in a way that reflects his opinion on the modern workspace. I will also focus on how he shows human intervention in the sterile work environment.

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