Christer Strömholm Portraits in Paris -Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Sweden 6 OCTOBER 2022–8 JANUARY 2023
When I was 20 years old, I moved from Paris to Stockholm. In Paris I had photographed a lot, as during my months in Geneva before Paris. I had tried to photograph prostitutes in my street of Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. But they always ended up wrestling me down, ripping the film out of the camera, and digging their sharp nails into my skin. I loved Magnum and wanted to be a war photographer like Capa, my first real assignment as a photographer in Paris as a teenager was to photograph Andy Warhol’s muse Ultra Violet nude with a plastic fish and a shawl, and I also photographed the park of the Château de Madame du Barry in Louveciennes, with its beautiful pond and temple d’amour (Anais Nine lived for five years in this village) The castle where we often partied and stayed overnight, once a few months I photographed a Japanese dancer on a rooftop in Paris, whom I met here at a party. I also photographed people in the streets and squares and in the Jardain de Luxembourg and the Temple de la Sybille in Buttes Chamont, or people walking dogs and children. During high school in Lund, I had photographed my friends’ naked bodies, wrapped in cellophane plastic like mummies or construction sites with rebar and pipes in detail, and I had made all the copies myself. And then I came to Stockholm in the north with a binder under my arm because I was in love and looking for a job. My mother was friend with the photographer Gunnar Smoliansky who looked at my photographs and said that I was suitable to work with a photographer named Christer Strömholm, who I did not know at all. The next day I met Christer and he looked at my photographs and asked if I could start straight away, and I did. We often started off the day with coffee and a wonderful croissant and I was told which binders to go through and which contact cards and which pictures I could choose to copy and then he taught me in the lab how to copy and he taught me to see not just in the darkroom but during our conversations.
I extremely often received small pieces of paper that I would put under the pillow and read only the next day, there were various small tasks. First patch was take a self portrait with a roll of film, 36 shots, no two shots can be the same, I had never ever taken a self portrait, this was way before the Selfie-era. For 1 year I made lots of copies, dabbed, shaded and dipped my fingers in various dangerous liquids, I also got pregnant during this time and inhaled all these fumes in the darkroom 8 hours a day. I came back a few times over the years to see Christer and we drank coffee and had a nice chat and I photographed him, I saw him.
lesson 1. self portrait with a roll of film