It was sunny day in winter when I was taking a walk nearby a frozen pond situated in central part of the town (Sweden). There were gatherings of families with kids enjoying skating. Round the pond I could see the smoke coming up. When I came closer, I saw this cosy scene – parents were grilling sausages with bread, preparing for a lunch break, while kids were ice-skating. I was amazed by the fact of grilling in a winter, which is very unusual behaviour in my country. There I first came to the idea of doing a study of people´s perception of leisure places in Sweden.
When I started with this project, my intention was to show the actual leisure landscapes photographed on a big scale. But throughout the process of developing ideas for the piece I felt that I wanted to come closer, and focus on actual people – characters, and their relationship to the place and their surroundings. Mainly I was focusing on one person in the group. I was trying to understand how the subject perceived the situation and how other people affected the subject´s appearance, whether they were strangers or friends. In the end my intention with this project was to understand and depict the typical Swedish behavior in their free time.
Essentially this project is about cultural understanding. It shows ‘ordinary people doing ordinary things’, but the way that they are doing it is typical of Swedish culture. The study looks at eccentricity, national identity, and cultural clichés in Sweden, both from a street-level, intimate perspective and from a wider, more emphatically detached point of view. Furthermore this cultural study is done from an anthropological point of view, conducted by a person of a different cultural background.
Therefore this project has become a social anthropological study, which examines social patterns and behaviors of Swedish people. The starting point for this study is based on the research done using social anthropological books written mainly by Swedish authors. A few examples are :
Åke Daun “Svensk mentalitet” (Swedish mentality). 1994
Colette Van Luik “Vem är Svensson?” (Who is Svensson?). 2011
David Gaunt, Orvar Löfgren “Myter om Svensken” (Myths about Swede). 1984
Henrik Berggren, Lars Trägårdh “Är svensken människa? Gemenskap och oberoende I det moderna Sverige” (Is Swede a man? Community and independence in modern Sweden). 2006