Björn Kjelltoft is a visual artist who creates installations and sculptures which often make use of Swedish design and crafts to comment on popular culture and its aesthetics.
Early in his career, Björn created a name for himself in mainstream media with his playful yet critical reproductions of well-known design icons. Among other projects, he created an interpretation of a popular Swedish glass artist's work, using discarded plastic bottles. The work initially created a public debate about 'unauthorized' artistic interpretation which revealed underlying notions of taste, class and gender. Eventually, it also transformed into a form of tacit collaboration between the two artists. This work lead to a series of investigations about the relationship between the creation and self-perception of a politically endorsed national culture through material production such as design and crafts.
The project that brings him to China for the first time is of a very personal nature. In 1968, Björn's father, an engineer working for a Swedish company producing electrical equipment, came to China for a project installing turbines at a Power station in Beijing. As a young technician from a respected neutral country he enjoyed a privileged position, became a rare witness to a closed country during the height of the Cultural Revolution. As a document from this period he took many photos of both official events such as the military parade paying tribute to Chairman Mao, but also more mundane scenes of everyday street life, in defiance of the photo prohibition.
As an open-ended venture into a personal history the artist will, together with his father, retrace the footsteps taken in '68, finding the locations depicted in the diapositives and retake the photos using the same original camera. As a document, these images have the potential of revealing the massive transformations taken place in the Chinese capital, its public spaces and political venues. As a personal encounter between a son and his aging father returning to a city for the first time after half a century, Björn Kjelltoft's project opens up for multitude of contingencies.
This residency is a part of IFP's collaboration with IASPIS on the topic of public space in China.