10 May 2021

Analogue Processing of a Family Tree

10 May 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

Erik Gustafsson combines self-portraiture with images from his intimate surroundings to complete a visual travel log where he delineates the relationship with his family and his existence within it.

This is Farewell is an autobiographical story that aims to explore the indeterminate borderland between fictive and documentary photography. By returning to my birthplace, I am examining and raising questions about the relationship between parent and child, and how our origin and heritage shape the process of coming into being. I play with the idea of the family as a battleground, of becoming and liberation. The portraits of my parents and grandfather, carefully selected and combined with self-portraits and landscapes, evoke the burning clashes of trust and betrayal, of love and rage. In this series, the family bond is untied by the light of exposure, not directed against the subject, but against myself, in relation to the subject. Photographs of photographs inside the home, create stories within the story, employing a familiar way of preserving and remembering members of the family tree. This series shows that photography is a way to verify one’s own and other’s existence, and also a way of staying connected to each other.

The images mainly reflect my view and perspective on these relationships, but rediscovered videotapes also add another layer of perspective; the parental gaze on the child. It is the personal, the private life that is depicted and presented to the world, and the boundary between the private and public is blurred out. This project was in many ways, a kind of farewell, but also the starting point for new ways of creating images. During the project, I started to consider the analogue darkroom to have a direct continuation and complement of camerawork, where I continued to add layers of light during the printmaking process.

Words and Pictures by Erik Gustafsson.


Erik Gustafsson (b.1987), currently based in Gothenburg. He works with analogue processes and looks at questions relating to the essence of photography, both within and beyond documentary narratives. In his work, he revisits the intrinsic elements of photography, such as surface, depth, readings and notions, and the possibility to experience time and space on a flat surface. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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