Briefly describe the work you do.
What I do is that I take a concept which might be a symbol, sentence, system, object or any idea that seems promising for whatever reason and then start a construction process in my mind, imagining what the results could look like by different material combinations and working methods. When I arrive at something that I find visually interesting I start working to acquire the means to perform the idea. The actual execution tends to bring with it a lot of changes, so for me it is important to plan for an open-ended process.
Some projects are complicated and takes a lot of planning, communication and funds, while at other times slight altercations to available found objects might be entirely sufficient. Generally I try to manage my work into keeping what seems to me to be interesting strings of possible associations attached to them or, into being things that might generate new thoughts. Basically things worth looking at for an extended period of time – looking and thinking.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
My choice to be an artist came from a pursuit of autonomy and trying to avoid any limitations to my options of choosing areas of interest. From a wish to be able to work for myself and to be allowed to change my mind at a whim. Working as an artist seemed to me to be the most free-minded career choice available. I think this is reflected in the material variability of my output and continually trying to gain new skills and insights from many different fields of study and modes of thought.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I used to live in my studio for the last couple of years, which meant for me that I was always potentially working on something, even when relaxing. Only since this last year do I keep a division between ”at home” and ”in the studio”. My studio is located within walking distance from where I live, so I still go there in the middle of the night sometimes, but the difference is that I let go of getting any more work done at the point of stepping out of the studio.
I’m definitely a studio-based practitioner that keeps on-going projects set up in workstations around my space – building on my notes for ideas and stacking my storage of materials.
For larger projects that are in need of manufacturing in other workshops, much of the work still comes from out of the studio practice by making sketches and preparations.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Most of the chores that goes with being a free-lance artist that’s not directly related to actually making art I find quite awkward. All the paper work of being a small business, writing applications, negotiating fees etc. take up a great deal of my time and energy, and I wish I could pass that on to someone else that might willingly do a better job of it. Chasing opportunities goes with getting turned down a lot, which is a bummer, but so far it is a reality that has to be dealt with. So managing my own expectations is a role I’m reluctantly getting better at.
However, I enjoy the social aspect of the role of project coordinator and getting in touch with people for advice of how to proceed with an idea – discussions, making plans, setting dates and seeking collaborations.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I typically work nights when there are no other distractions. But I am in the process of trying to turn this around just to see what might happen if I adopt a regular working schedule. I find it difficult, but for me it’s an exotic challenge. I suspect there is a reward in an overall increase in quality of life in not staying up all night that I am actually quite distrustful of, because I think that for me it might also be creatively stunting.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My work has generally gotten larger in scale and more expensive to produce. I find myself thinking more about things like logistics these days, which I suppose means I am getting more professional.
I also collaborate much more than I used to and am developing on-going collaborations and exchanges with a number of other artists. Sharing skill-sets and creatively exchanging viewpoints seems increasingly important to me.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I have been greatly influenced by extensively reading and listening to the psychedelically informed philosophies of Carlos Castaneda, Terence McKenna and Alan Watts over the last couple of years. From them and other thinkers I have gathered many spawns of ideas from coming across theories of the nature of time, plant shamanism, the role of aesthetics in human cultures and so forth.
I listen quite a lot to podcasts and lectures while working and often on varying subjects of history; cultural history; art history; the history of science; philosophy and any history of ideas, and so making my work has for me become imbued with the acquisition of knowledge.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Not really. For myself, I never saw the point. I would maybe like to teach art eventually, just to directly dig into what people are thinking and why.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden 1987. Received his MFA after five years of studies at Valand Academy in Gothenburg 2014. Currently lives and works in Gothenburg where he recently had his first solo exhibition since graduation at the artist-run gallery BOX.
Ljungdahl Eklund’s work concerns the themes of altered perception, mythology and the process of sight.
By operating with different cultural symbols and knowledge systems through a wide range of techniques and materials, his artistic practice is both a conceptual and material investigation, aimed at by observation instilling a sense of immediate presence.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.