In 2007 I started talking with the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo about the possibility to exhibit my work at the embassy. The project developed into a presentation of Swedish Comic Art through one of the major Swedish Comic Publishers; Galago. My participation being portraits from my recent project Refricater – a cooperation between me and 60 Swedish Comic artists. The day the exhibition started I held a speech, This is what I said:
“I would first of all like to take the opportunity to thank you all for coming. Im honored to see you all here when I present my work ”Refricates” for the first time. I would also like to express my gratitude to the swedish embassy for inviting me and my exhibition. I started this project seven years ago. Although, I have to admit, it wasn’t really a project at the time. It was more of an idea of how to collaborate with two of my generations most famous swedish comic-book-artists. Max Andersson and Lars Sjunnesson. Their portraits were taken when I met them in 2001, doing a feature on Swedish artists in Berlin for a Swedish newspaper. And by letting them draw directly on the negative I got truly unique portraits from our encounter. Then a couple of years later the idea grew into an experiment merging two artforms and merging two artistic views into one. By studying the artists work I come up with an idea for the picture, but sometimes the visual idea comes from my subject. So we start with this idea but often ends up with something different in the end. I use polaroids. Doing that is a project in itself. Except scarce out of date items found in forgotten boxes at old photo-stores, polaroids are hard to come by. And then the specific polaroid I use is one that also delivers a negative. Once the negative is developed it immediately has to soak and rinse. Still wet the artists scratch on the surface. By removing silvergelatine the black lines are created. The white is applied when the negative is dried. I aim to incorporate the special style and handicraft of each specific artist in the portraits, sometimes I even manage to collect some of their world of ideas. The artists featured in Refricates were asked to participate based on the simple fact that I myself consider them interesting to work with. My project include internationally well known artists, as well as young unestablished but talented artists. And some of the artists featured in the Galago exhibition are also part of mine. Thank you for spending time with my photographs.”
– Christer Järeslätt
Joakim Pirinen, Marcus Nyblom, Liv Strömquist, in Shinjuku
The main purpose of my trip to Tokyo in 2008 was to exhibit my Refricater project, but it was also a reason and an opportunity for me to come back to a loved city. I could stay for two weeks in a guest room at the embassy, before and during the exhibition, and this made it possible to recap my earlier visits to the city. I spent my time visiting all parts of Tokyo I knew from before trying to sense the changes from six years ago. This time in Tokyo I longed to capture not only stills but the pace, the flow and the sound. I thought of buying a videocamera but I knew absolutely nothing about video. I wanted something small pocketable unobtrusive so I ended up buying a small Casio digital budget camera with filming functions. I started to shoot pictures with the ease and simplicity that comes with a small digital camera – almost as visual notes with special aesthetics, but soon I started to use the basic film function and I ended up with more film clips than pictures from the stay in Tokyo. When I came home I made Galago – lost in translation, a very shabby documentary about the exhibition, the artists and the stay. A film with terrible sound solely from the cameras tiny microphone.
Years later when working with the ToYuko-project I realized how well these clips blended with the analog photos from my first trip to Tokyo. The rough character of the sub HD film capabilities of the Casio pocket camera married very well with the coarse quality in the scans from the half format Canon Dial camera I used in the material from 2000.