I was born in a small village in Dalarna in Sweden where there was on one hand the strong stories about trolls, mystique and the women who lived in the mountains and forests during the summertimes with their cattle. Those stories has made an impact on me. On the other hand there were the influence of the free churches and christianity. In my village with about 1700 inhabitants, there were five free churches. Of course both worlds affected me, almost all my friends were members of one of the churches, my neighbors and my relatives also. But not my parents so through my father and his friends I got the stories from the forests, mountains and the lakes.
I love to visualize the feeling of nature and what we maybe don’t see. Abstract landscape and the peaceful nature. Thats one part of my art work. The other is the knowledge that I can affect and tell stories with my art, the camera is my tool for questioning things in society. One such thing is God, Love, Pride that has its origins in my background in the religious environments when I grew up. Already as a child I observed things in these environments that I couldn’t understand, how they said that some people lived in sin, how they talked about guilt and disgrace, how some people were good people and saved and other were damned. Heaven or hell.
As I grew up I moved away from the village, met new people with other values. During my life I have met people from the LGBTIQ- community and it has hit me that so many people had this story about them coming out as an LGTBIQ-person and had a background in some religious environment. I felt that these stories have to be told.
More about me and other projects at ilargunilla.com
God, Love, Pride
The faith, opinions and belief systems that congregations and other fellowships are made up of often provide a strong sense of belonging and of being safe within the group. Sharing faith, values and having the same elevated hope can be very forceful.
But what happens to those who can’t believe what is being preached or that which ”is written”? What happens to those who dare to question fundamental ”truths”? What does it do to a person to constantly be judged for their personal feelings? And what happens to a person who discovers their homosexuality while having been told their entire life that homosexuality is a most serious sin?
I have, for some time now, met people from the LGBTQ+ community with backgrounds in religious or other strongly defined groups. Most of them have experiences of creating a new life, making new friends and redefining families after severing connections to their “previous life”. I have asked them to write down a defining experience, event or memory as a symbol of their journey, and from those chosen words I have planned and developed individual pictures. Stand-in models have been used in the pictures whenever the participant chose not to be in the photo. Each participant has approved their picture.
This is an ongoing art photo-project that welcomes new participants. So, if you as a person with LGBTQ+ experiences would like to tell your story, do not hesitate to contact me!
Ilar Gunilla Persson