Let’s begin with the image of the X that indicates where it happened. This way we have something to start from and perhaps also return to.

The cross, the X, makes for a very specific situation by being both sign and place at the same time. Two branches of a tree have been painted white and their combined angles send a signal from a chaotic point of existence. Nature, as we see it from our exclusive horizon, is a jumble of temporary relations. Hence humankind’s strong urge to seek order and interconnectedness in all we experience. This creation of meaning can be said to be the foundation of all artistic practice and it is also applicable in the case of Linda Hofvander—however, there is also something else at work here, something that seeks to repeal what is meaningful in favor of the real, something that is slightly beyond our longing for meaning.

When Linda Hofvander was my student at the University of Gothenburg’s School of Photography, we often spoke of her work in terms of basic research. She would, for example, depict phenomena such as heat, cold, and surface tension in an objective yet narrative way. Not abstractions in the form of curves and diagrams, but a different form of evidence, namely the photographic image. With a light hand and a strict visual language she excelled at magic realism.

The images that Hofvander has made since her time at university have the same explorative character but now it is the act of seeing and its conventions that are under scrutiny. That is, the photographic act of seeing. A gaze other than the photographic is not discernable to me in Hofvander’s reflections. It’s a matter of images that describe relations of size and perspective, of signs that reveal themselves in our comprehension apparatus like factual reports from the subconscious. Edmund Husserl called it “Zu den Sachen selbst,” and photographic technology does in fact pro- vide an excellent way of coming closer, despite demanding a reformulation of phenomenological reality. Closer to the objects, items, and things. While at the same time distancing oneself, taking a step back in order to see a bit better. But reducing an object to an image also means giving it new status. I deign to bestow my gaze on you and now you are obliged to acknowledge your role in this drama.

The two works Hello and Farewell show two white flags, which first turn to each other only to retreat and part from one another. The white flag is an internationally recognized symbol that means that one is approaching without weapons. That one wants to capitulate or negotiate. A seeming- ly meaningless lack of color, heraldry, and other signs is hence in actual fact packed with information. But can energy really come from a situation that does not contain a conflict? Hofvander’s flags do not burn up. They separate in a case of unfinished business, with a cool and poetic clarity.

In photographic contexts a piece of aluminum foil can be used to reflect rays of light. When Linda Hofvander photographs this material, a sur- face is formed that communicates with the film in the camera that de- picts it. (Because I think she still prefers analogue to digital technology.) But what happens when the camera is moved backwards and a bit to the side and the foil is transformed into an object, taped onto a wall, while daylight filters through the left-hand window in the image? Then I have a feeling of feedback coursing through my head, like an electric guitar that continues to wail its last note as it’s leaned against the loudspeaker after a concert. There is a sense of security in knowing that the number of positions is endless, like the sound that propagates itself out there in space without ever diminishing in strength.

In something that resembles a storeroom or, at a push, an artist’s studio, a screen has been pulled out and it reminds one of . . . itself. I first saw a dense forest, a pastoral artifact. After that, an empty blackboard in a school, not yet beset by thousands of thoughts and signs, longing- ly and greenly vibrating. Then I heard about these “green screens” that, in the digital world of moving images, function as a place onto which anything can be projected, inserted, and played back. A place for anything and nothing. Suddenly the white cross in the forest seems like a hope- ful assertion that it’s not too late to mark your territory in a pictorial world that eats our eyes, as if they were oysters, greedily and with a shudder.

The most recent images I saw, they were lying on the floor in a position that looked like rebellion. Images that depicted walls with shadows, dramatic with a lot of black and folded as if they had been given an assignment. Mission impossible: to bend the room with the help of our eyes, to give our longing for meaning a predictable direction, quite simply lure us into unknown territory.

It’s a dangerous game that’s being played in Linda Hofvander’s visual world. “None of the images is a perfect illusion. They can be easily un- masked,” she says herself. I accept the challenge but after a while I find myself on the other side of the bar. Her images deftly reflect my perspec- tive and hold my eyes accountable. You just have to acknowledge the fact that to see is to love!

Annika von Hausswolff 2015

(From I am silver and exact, Art and Theory Publishing, 2015)

Annika von Hausswolff is a visual artist working primarily in photography. She is also a prolific writer and former teacher of master’s students at the School of Photography, University of Gothenburg.