This project which brings the artist to China for the first time is of a very personal nature. In 1968, Björn's father, an engineer working for a Swedish company producing electrical equipment, came to China for a project installing turbines at a Power station in Beijing. As a young technician from a respected neutral country he enjoyed a privileged position, became a rare witness to a closed country during the height of the Cultural Revolution. He took many photos of both official events such as the military parade paying tribute to Chairman Mao, but also more mundane scenes of everyday street life, in defiance of the photo prohibition.
As an open-ended venture into his father's personal history the artist has retraced the footsteps taken in '68, finding the locations depicted in the diapositives and retake the photos using the same original camera. As a document, these images reveal the massive transformations taken place in the Chinese capital, its public spaces and political venues. As a personal encounter between a son and his ageing father returning to a city for the first time after half a century, Björn Kjelltoft's project opens up for a multitude of contingencies.
For IFP’s new project space, Björn has created an installation that suggests relationships rather than pinpoints differences or similarities between different eras. In a casual and ostensibly unedited array across a working table, accompanied by recordings of his father’s accounts, the installation invites the viewer to discover a universe which links the local Beijing habitat and its large narratives to a very personal history.Text: Max Gerthel IFP