Anna Littorin

Anna Littorin

Introspective photography

by Anna Littorin (Sweden)

My name is Anna Littorin. Im from Sweden but I´ve also lived in the United States and England. In my life I´ve worked as a press photographer and photo editor. Besides working in media I´ve always done my own photography projects.I´m interested in architecture and landscapes and my subjects have mainly revolved around those areas.

Portfolio from the Photographie Introspective workshop with Michael Ackerman, November 2013.

Written review by ANDREAS J. HIRSCH,
Independent curator, writer and photographer

Anna Littorin deliberately went out of her way as a photographer in this workshop. The results show - and her own words confirm it - that this was a good decision. Learning takes place when we go astray from our usual paths and expose ourselves to the unexpected - which in this case for Anna meant looking at herself.

It also meant searching for a different aesthetic than the one she got used to applying when photographing architecture. Allowing for dim lights, blurry, out-of-focus images and for the subject being partially obscured is quite a step away from the clear, camly composed and focused photographs of architecture she usually takes. Although also her work on architecture contains less commonplace elements when she highlights the signs of decay, she took a big step into new territory.

And she worked with a model - herself - that she directed to a set of poses that let us feel an underlying stream of shifting emotions that are consistent, since they are authentic and belong to the same person. In this case it is not important wheter the story is the product of fact or fiction, the authenticity of the narrative is what counts.

Two images at first glance seem to fall out of the series. Number 1, which is showing a bridge and seems to belong to her usual work with architectural structures. Even without knowing that she brought this image from her previous, recent work to the workshop, and without knowing that Michael Ackerman encouraged her to make this single image to first cornerstone of what she would work on during the workshop - even without all that information it seems a good starting point for the series. One could say it serves as a stepping stone that allowed her to make that jump into the unknown of what turned out a totally new kind of photography for her.

The other image is number 8, the one where she holds a small photograph of her daughter, where we do not see her or her reflection in a mirror, but the echo of herself that lives in her daughter. Again the emotion that lies in the way she holds the small photograph, the kind of photographs that people keep in their wallets, conveys an emotion consistent with the rest of the series.

Also due to the fact that all images besides one seem to have been taken at night or in a darkened room a nocturnal mood dominates the series. Maybe the photograph of the bridge at night set the tone for this. It enhances a feeling of loneliness that also the expressions on her face seem to reflect.

The series leads us through various scenes of being alone at home and of going out alone again. Most of the photographs also seem to work well in pairs, 2 + 3, 4 +5, 6 + 7 and 9 + 10. Only 1 and 8 one more seem to fall out, but this makes them work like counterpoint, accentuating the rest of the series. The surroundings, which in most cases are only indicated and not fully shown, become the carriers for the shifting moods and the aspects of the self explored. The self is multi-faceted and our days present different qualities and moods. It is as if she shows us portraits of a different persona with each new image. Due to this each photograph in itself remains ambiguous, open to different interpretations, each in fact offering a micro-narrative of its own.

It seems worth looking specially at the last pair of images - numbers 9 and 10 - which contains another element of irritation with number 9 being the only photograph in the series in black & white. The hair falling over the body and the one eye looking on from the shadows offer a beautiful meditation about being able to exhibit oneself - which is essential for voyeurism - and the changes of sides that come with the photographic experience in the self-portrait.

The one eye is also the logical final cornerstone for something that started with the bridge and that contained those different aspects of looking at oneself. It binds together what introspective photography could mean - looking at oneself, oneself in the world, finding echoes of the soul out there in the world and again looking - the ultimate photographic activity.

So the series from Anna Littorin seems a good example of a workshop extremely well used, not for just getting a little better in what you are already doing, but for breaking new ground with your photography - and ultimately with yourself.

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