Johan Österholm

Johan Österholm has a strong interest in the history of photography, the photographic process and its ability to speak to something that lies beyond the present day: of the traces that previous generations have left behind, and those that we ourselves will leave.

Österholm predominantly works with large format cameras and photosensitive materials in order to appropriate and visualize traces and passages through time. His contemplative practice spans from resurrecting his great-grandfather’s glass negatives to a typological series depicting buildings as repositories for memories.

In the series Untitled (Family Portraits), portraits of several generations are composited with Österholm’s own image. Our appearance and expression are an emerging picture of who we are, what we commonly call, “self.” This “self” takes many generations to create. Österholm’s subtle portrait appears haunted, exposing ancestral ghosts who follow their next descendant.

Österholm’s believes in an alchemical potential in moonlight. He uses nocturnal illumination to activate obsolete objects by exposing them to the glow of the full moon. This system was first used by Österholm to bring new life to glass negatives and positives that were created by his great-grandfather in the early 1900s, which depict the night sky. Next, he collected shards of glass from abandoned greenhouses, coated them in silver gelatin, and transformed them from collectors of sunlight into moon gatherers. Österholm continues to explore the infinite possibilities for transformation that is imbued in the reflected light of our closest celestial body, the moon.

Johan Österholm was born in 1983. He lives in Malmö, Sweden.