A few times a year, I would drive past the old front in Skogby. One can notice the place from the road when passing rows of large granite blocks called dragon teeth. There, precisely 80 years ago, my grandfather, Victor, served as a field surgeon. During my psychoanalytic process, I started to sense a need to walk in the area, an idea that my therapist encouraged. I started going there regularly, sometimes walking along ridges of sand, other times strolling through the forest to the shore or looking for Victor’s bunker in the woods to the north of the town.
While working on this project, the period that became the end phase of my therapy, I have reflected on the peculiar landscape with its waves of sand. During the last ice age, the edge of the retracting ice stood still here for a while. The water that flowed under the thick frozen cover moved with such force that it dragged large boulders of stone with it, rubbing them against each other and grinding them into sand, shaping the sand into ridges as it emerged from underneath the ice. I find it difficult to grasp that life seems to have arisen from minerals like these and that my ability to reflect, all of my inner experience, evolved from those first organic compounds. Out of them, under demanding conditions, emerged my body with the structures of my mind, the same structures that developed the ideas that organized cultures.
I have wrestled with a paradox: The fact that violence can leave wounds in the human mind deep enough to travel between generations seems to indicate that we are not suited for violent behaviour, that it is somehow unnatural to us. But a look at our cultural past, all the way back to Gilgamesh, shows another story, one of violence deeply rooted within us. Cultural periods kept crashing into the pendulum of ideas; during the last few centuries in Europe, the Reformation gave rise to the Baroque, the Baroque to the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment to Romanticism, leaving a messy trail of blood as the periods shifted, and remnants of feelings and thoughts that I now carry within my mind.
At one point, this flow of ideas, seemingly strongly influenced by the Romantics, culminated in the worst of wars, a tiny fraction of which took place in these woods. One doesn’t have to dig very deep in the ground to find its remnants, pieces of old weapons and equipment. I have often wondered if and how my grandfather’s experiences are part of my inner life. In
therapy, I mourned a lack of intimacy, the cold relationships between generations and between men. My final insight seemed to be that, because of the war, it could be no other way. In a sense, that gives me comfort.
For this project, I have collaborated with the Historical Museum in Bern, Switzerland, the Hanko Front Museum, and archaeologists at the University of Helsinki.”
The exhibition is supported by Konstsamfundet, Oskar Öflunds stiftelse, Svenska kulturfonden and Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
Lately, Christian Langenskiöld’s main mediums have been photography and sculpture. In his work, he has often returned to the same paradox: as living creatures, we are driven to stay alive, but as human beings, gifted with reason and imagination, we realise that life is an unstable and finite process. When approaching his working themes, Christian often collaborates with people involved in various fields, such as medicine, art history, psychology and archaeology.