As an artist, I often find inspiration in my own shortcomings. After 20 years as a filmmaker in partnership with my wife and a father of 5, my marriage ended in divorce in 2013. I found myself in a major identity crisis, falling into a deep and bitter depression, gaining weight and suffering from heartburn and gastritis.
One summer day as I was watching the film "Notting Hill" for the eleventh time, crying and feeling sorry for myself, stuffing myself with anything I could get my hands on—potato chips, chocolate, schnapps, crayfish and candy automobiles—an idea came to me. What if I could swallow small janitors that could clean up my digestive system? Or miniature firemen to extinguish my heartburn? Or maybe even small lovebirds to paint my black heart red once again?
Said and done, I convinced the head radiologist at Uppsala University Hospital to allow me to have access to X-ray machines currently not in use, on the sole condition that all surplus funds from the sales of my images would go directly to the Children's Cancer Foundation as well as the Swedish Cancer Society. As close family and friends were suffering from cancer, my art was about healing oneself from the inside. I was x-rayed as I swallowed miniature figures which I had first painted with lead, gold and barium sulfate so that they would be visible—while the nurses in attendance were hysterical as I became more and more nauseous from the barium.
After much trial and error we managed to get the results I was hoping for, and with a bit of help from Photoshop I was able to adjust the figures positions to be just right.
First shown in Uppsala this past year, the project was simultaneously reported to the Radiation Protection Inspectorate for the illegal handling of X-ray equipment with risk of injury to person—an investigation that is still going on today. Since then they have been exhibited in New York and Japan, receiving much attention on Japanese television, but have yet to be shown in Sweden.
The series includes three major themes with a total of nine individual pieces, each printed as fine art photography, size 70 x 70 cm, as a limited edition of 20, mounted to 10 mm acrylic glass and signed by the artist.
All inquiries for purchase and exhibition collaborations are referred to Galleri Duerr Stockholm.
I call this series of work "Small Swallowed Saviours"—healing my physical and phychological pain, cleansing and repainting myself in body and soul!