Jonas Lindstroem’s powerful series for True Photo Journal simulates real life experiences to see what sticks
“What’s the voice of this generation? Maybe there isn’t one,” artist Mike Kelley said shortly before his death. This idea has had a profound impact on Berlin-based photographer and filmmaker Jonas Lindstroem, who created a project inspired by it, and has since seen works take on similar lines of questioning. He is fascinated by the concept that we are subject to multiple different voices at any one time. The most potent takeaway from his work, however, is that viewers create their own narrative for any and all artworks they encounter, based on their own unique set of emotional experiences.
Lindstroem’s work is powerful, often brutal and sometimes sexual; it doesn’t shy away either from the physical violence in the world around us, or that which inhabits our minds in less tangible ways. Earlier this year he debuted his short film TRUTH OR DARE – 21 Performances, a project “condensing visual fragments of our generation into short, emotional cinematic vignettes,” says Lindstroem. The photographer was later approached by True Photo Journal to create a series of images “that work as an extension of that film, or could work in the same universe,” he explains. “The main idea is creating these fragments that feel like documentary photographs taken from real life situations, but are inherently staged and constructed images.”
The resulting series, One Dollar Dream, was shot in Berlin using a medium format Leica, and somehow works coherently in spite of presenting multiple protagonists and narrative threads. When viewed together, the pictured scenes create a commentary on the world we live in. “I try to create an elevated, more iconic version of an image,” Lindstroem says. “It’s about finding abstract images that represent a feeling in our generation.” The images are inspired by sources ranging from snippets of photojournalism, or real life encounters, to viral YouTube videos and Instagram snapshots. “It’s interesting to recreate things and put them into a new context,” Lindstroem says. The strangely kinetic but claustrophobic double page spread of basketball shirt-clad guys, for example, riffs off a five-year-old YouTube clip depicting a similarly surreal sitting room scene.
Lindstroem then reinterprets these multifarious references into his cinematic vignettes. He delights in the fact that each viewer will see something entirely different in them to the next. “They mean very different things to different people, depending on their background,” he says. “An image of an explosion in a city will mean something very different to someone in Kabul, to someone in the countryside. I’m interested in the ambiguity of different images in different contexts. You charge them with a specific meaning, and provoke the viewer into being triggered into something different.”
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