Finalists 2019: Willner – Olsson
Heaps – plain and simple. Though often overlooked, they are always present; some are only temporary, while others have filled the landscape for centuries. This basic architectural shape, reflecting mankind’s impact upon nature, is at the centre of what has now become a photographic series comprised of many variations on this theme.
These two Swedish photographers have been working together since 2015, researching and developing the subject of the “Heaps” series. Their series requires a conscious perception of landscapes in general, and explores perspectives in both time and space. Considering their basic triangular and circular conic form, heaps represent perhaps the oldest, as well as the most decisive, traces of mankind’s effect upon the environment. Above all, you can discover heaps every day and everywhere, as temporary evidence of the movement and displacement of materials.
“The heap is the constant shape in a continuously changing environment.”
The photographers have not only captured reflections of the past, but have also created experimental arrangements in the present. Next to images of pre-existing heaps that they came across, the series presents “Studies” that document artificial heaps, during different stages of experimentation. This is where the artists seek to guide the viewers’ attention towards wider philosophical, cultural and political issues: “Based on aspects such as democracy, activism and history, the work aims to illuminate processes of change that lie hidden in the obvious.” As simple as the shape of the heap is, all the more complex the possible ways to gain knowledge about it seem to be.
Johan Willner and Peo Olsson
Born in Stockholm in 1971, Willner studied at the International Center of Photography in New York and at Stockholm’s MFA Konstfack, Sweden’s largest University for Arts, Crafts and Design. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and publications, including the books “Boy Stories” (2012) and “Wind Upon the Face of Waters” (2016). Willner lives in Stockholm.
Born in Lund in 1973, Olsson studied at the International Center of Photography in New York and at the MFA School of Photography in Gothenburg. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and publications, including the book “Umbra Hominis” (2014). Olsson lives in Lund. Since 2017, Olsson and Willner have exhibited their, as yet incomplete, project “Heaps” in Athens, Helsingborg, Varberg and Helsinki, among other places.
Portrait: © Peo Olsson & Johan Willner