An interview with Stockholm artist Mamma Andersson by Kayta Tylevic.Full interview in Elephant Magazine Issue #15.
Now Andersson stands next to me, flipping through a stack of photographs. These are crime scenes from around Sweden, taken no earlier than 1965 and no later than 1985. Why so specific? ‘Because those are my years,’ she says. ‘It’s a reality I understand.’
Andersson used to have an ‘in’ with a ‘crime guy’ who let her pick and choose the photographs she wanted to work with. ‘I would have access to entire books detailing a murder, for example, where you could see the body, the garden outside, the details of every coffee cup,’ she says. ‘Today, they’ve changed the rules, and now I’m only allowed to see clean photos of the crime site, never of what actually happened. I’m not interested in what happened, anyway. I’m interested in place.’
Well, for the sake of argument, couldn’t you open a 1970s interior design magazine if all you’re interested in is place? Andersson nulls the question: ‘I like to see dirty dishes, clothing on the floor, and bills on the table. I also like police photography for its objectivity; the point is not to take a good photograph or to fulfil the ambition to show something that happened somewhere. From there, I can be my own artist.’
She puts the photos down on to a table clustered with books and magazines. More books are on the floor, the chairs and well, of course, the shelves. Art books, and vintage books on a variety of subjects, in a variety of languages. Cookbooks, books about handcrafted silver, Russian books about female athletes. And, on a pillar between the canvases left drying on the floor, she’s taped up black-and-white pages clipped from catalogues, found photographs, the works of Lucas Cranach, strange vignettes and cryptic landscapes. These are the grounds for her paintings, the atmospheres she enters and manipulates. But once she’s in them, she says, her mind is often occupied with how to mix different colours, how to apply paint to an empty panel.