‘I started working on my Paradise essay in 2006, when I moved back to Stockholm after living in different European cities.
Though born and raised in Milan, as a half-Swede I have always felt connected to this city.
The approach of my photography is direct, intuitive and fast. I’m trying to be faster than my second thoughts. I see it as an exercise in listening to my instinct without thinking too much.
Confronted with an atmosphere quite different to the stereotypical image of Stockholm, I started documenting this darker mood, the grittier side of daily life up here in the north.
The essay reflects my instant reactions to the ambiguity of a place I am so deeply related to through my family history.
In a broader sense, I want it to be primarily an artistic report on the consumerist and capitalistic aspects of western European urban culture.
Paradise stands for the illusion of this system. It’s the dream we are following through billboards, TV and the Internet.
My Paradise version, the lesser known image of this society, is best rendered in a dark, expressive style; as a straight black and white poem of reality, suspended between dreams/nightmares and reality.
I like to think of photography as a ritual/ceremony or as a machine that can capture symbols. These symbols of our times, filled with layers of meaning, which may be personal, cultural, political or historical, are best shown through the graphic language of black and white.
The lens concentrates on people and their surroundings, the architecture, urban details and atmospheres that make up their environments.
Analogue photography enables me to feel, think and reflect; it’s a specific process both in time and in mind. The darkroom is a place in which to think, a sort of workshop. The act of printing in monochrome and selecting my images is of the same importance as taking pictures.
Photography becomes a channel through which to relate and connect to the unparadisical version of life as it unfolds before me, turning into a visual story that wouldn’t be here if I weren’t taking pictures.
I don’t believe that photography is reliable for truths. I have to go beyond objectivity and make it personal. It’s a part of my life. I’m not trying to say this is how reality looks, but rather, that this is my reality, my view of life and myself.’
Joakim Kocjancic is a Swedish photographer, based in Stockholm.