The Swedish image-maker’s latest is a candid celebration of nature and female sensuality
Acclaimed Swedish photographer and former model Lina Scheynius released her first, self-published photo book, 01, in 2008, and has gone on to produce one new, beautifully bound follow-up to the tome almost every year since, to form what is now a nine-part series of candid visual journals. The last time we spoke to Scheynius, she had just published 08, a thoughtful, melancholy collection of images that reflected an emotional period in the photographer’s life – Scheynius never expands upon the meaning or message behind her books, simply divulging the prevailing mood that underscores them and leaving the rest up to the viewer. So what can we expect from 09, released via Scheynius’ website today? “At some point while editing this book in InDesign, I did have the thought, ‘Oh, I’m making a happy book!’” she reveals. “In the end it didn’t turn out to be that happy, but it’s happier than the last one.”
The photographer has always demonstrated a love of nature in her dreamily lit, pastel-hued or monochrome compositions, frequently turning her lens to nude flesh, dusky skyscapes and dewy flowers, but in her latest book, she explains, her fascination with the natural world has reached new heights. “I am getting more and more into nature photography the older I get. In the book, there’s a picture of little flower with light shining through it that keeps growing on me. So much so that I am thinking of framing it and putting it up on my wall, and I never hang my own pictures up!” Other horticulturally inclined snapshots include close-ups of roses, detailing the intricate lines of their overlapping petals; a bunch of brightly coloured blooms, their forms abstracted by a plastic covering that engulfs them, and two, double-exposed images which see a ghost-like Scheynius emerge behind a smattering of small, fuschia-petalled flowers.
The book also depicts tender, but not tantalising, images of breasts (almost comically squished together in one shot), vaginas, a softly curved bottom, and a nude self-portrait captured in a mirror, with echoes of Francesca Woodman. Intimate self-portraits, as well as occasional shots of her female friends and family members, are another recurring feature within Scheynius’ oeuvre, but now more than ever, in the wake of Trump’s inauguration, her exploration and celebration of female sensuality feels particularly poignant. “I love that you felt that way,” Scheynius says of this observation. “I was on Instagram in the days after he was elected and it was all so dark and grim and angry and hopeless on there. I dug up a photo of my sister from 2013 – with her pregnant belly and her cat, which also appears in the book – and posted that; I felt like the world might need it. Not that we should forget how dangerous this man is,” she adds, “but life is beautiful too.”
Scheynius, who launched her photography career on Tumblr where her work soon garnered a swiftly growing fan base leading to commissions from the likes of Dazed and AnOther Magazine, continues to use social media as a means of showcasing and experimenting with her visual output. “I really like that online nothing is permanent,” she explains, “I can upload a series on my website today and delete it or rearrange it tomorrow, which gives me a sense of freedom. The books are my favourite way to show photographs but I stress out a little more about them because once they’re done, they’re really done.” The image-maker’s original plan was to complete the print series at number 10, but with the production of the final publication now underway, she is tempted to continue. “I love making the books and the fact that people still want to buy them. Plus, the more I make, the nicer they look together on a shelf.”