Kristina Sälgvik – If You Had Been Here

In June 2014, we launched The MIniclick Press with the plan to publish affordable books on photographers side project, experimental works and archives. We started off with 5 books by Brighton based photographers.

Here we take a closer look at Kristina Sälgvik’s “If You Had Been Here” (which can be purchased here), with writer Bryony Good.

In Swedish folklore the Näcken traditionally lured women into lakes and ocean to drown. When Kristina Sälgvik describes the process of taking these photographs perhaps she was trying to stay afloat. 

Originally from Sweden, Kristina took these photographs back home as part of her degree back in 2010. In her introduction to the collection titled If You Had Been Here, she tells us of her trip back home to visit her father who was undergoing serious heart surgery. Due to a cold, Kristina wasn’t allowed to see him immediately before or after the surgery. Fearing the worst and looking for a way to deal with the helpless situation, she took photographs. 

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

The collection of images that Kristina made of this time inevitably contains a quiet sadness. The photographs vary from the vast, overwhelming Swedish landscapes to snippets of the everyday: a plant, a small knotted ribbon, a stairwell. We see a glimpse of a room though the doorway, empty but for a few balloons. 

All of these add up to paint a picture of her home at the time. 

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

The desolate beauty of the landscapes pictured here is reinforced by the loneliness of the subjects within each photograph. Each person is photographed on their own – even a small group of trees seem lonely huddled together in a bleak snow-covered field. The simplicity of each composition seems to compound the fragility of life. 

This uneasy atmosphere is captured in the tale of the Näcken, a narrative Sofia Kathryn Smith pieced together from the tales of Swedish folklore Kristina has told her. We are introduced of a person surrounded by (and almost made of) nature, being enticed lured to her demise by the water spirit. The unsettling tale in Sofia’s poem imbues each image with a delicate melancholy, a story of the struggle of life in harsh conditions. 

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

For me, each portrait we see seems to be a glimmer of light in an unforgiving environment: the simple settings of Kristina’s family and friends seem comfortable and strong, grounding the fairy-tale landscape with humanity.

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

This publication portrays the struggle of someone in a helpless position. Strangely, however, the beauty of the photography gives the viewer a sense of hope. There is comfort in these surreal landscapes and empty surroundings. Sometimes home may feel strange and uncertain, but it’s still home.  

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

Thanks to Bryony Good for the review.

Kristina Sälgvik’s “If You Had Been Here” can be purchased here

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