Libraryman, 2017. Edition of 500 copies. Clothbound hardcover, 300 x 360 mm, 40 pp., 25 b/w illustrations. Photographs by Gunnar Smoliansky. Text by Gunnar D. Hansson (English). Design by Tony Cederteg.
Gunnar Smoliansky’s (b. 1933, Swedish) studies of trees are social journalism in photographic form, although not from the human world in spite of their occasional traces of humanity. No, people appear to have left the scene. Smoliansky’s depictions of trees are a forestry ranger’s nightmare and at the same time far too vulnerable to please the zealous conservationist. These photographs are about a type of vegetation that may once have been both magnificent and dignified – what remains of growth is both frustrated and defiant. They are not romantic pictures of virgin woods. No, instead they are places that have been consigned to oblivion, pre- or post-profitability. Impediments. Languishing land. Windfallen tree trunks or soon to be windfallen trunks that are nothing but upright poles, trunks that have grown into each other. In these photos we are far from observing from perfect specimens, textbooks and the pleasure of inventing Latin names in the Linnaean spirit. They are mainly trees that remain standing by sheer dint of willpower, knots and twists. Like a neglected case of rheumatism. And yet: in the midst of this solitude, in the midst of this struggle, so difficult to grasp, there is a sense of community among the susceptible.
Excerpt from the preface written by writer and poet Gunnar D. Hansson