Gardens have a special ability to mirror moods and values. They tell about the gardener. The one who founded it and the one who cares for it. I associate Pleasantville’s gardens with my parents, their tastes and intellectual framework. I also see signs of the post war Swedish welfare state.
Everything, compressed on a limited surface. Clear values, inhibited aesthetics, and status-controlled hierarchy, written and unwritten rules. All that enables a society to function in large and small ways. In Pleasantville I’m observing the mechanisms that rectify and impede, inhibit and repress.
By moving in the area of closely scattered villas and houses and letting it rinse over me, my entire growth is run at express speed through my consciousness. I sense a place saturated with symbols and characters that shaped my parents life, and as a consequence my own life.
Domestic areas like this are based on homogeneity. They form a unit; House-owners. A collective who becomes suffering when single individuals do not follow the rules of their silent democracy. Of course you can choose an odd shade on the windowsill, but not depart too much from the established style. Whoever does not cut the grass makes the neighbor uneasy and lowers the value of surrounding property. Conflicts should at any cost be avoided. They would taint the neighborhood for years with embarrassment and scratch a hole in the polished surface.
More than half a century has passed since these houses were built and new generations have taken possession of the neighborhood, and yet it looks the same, only more saturated. The gardens have grown up to sometimes grotesque proportions.
To the inhabitants change may not always be positive. A static life with clear laws and rules where everyone knows their place and what is expected is a safe life without surprises and certainly something the vast majority prefer.
Everything shot with a simple bellow square-format camera from the 50’s.