Fieldnotes from an unnamed continent

Text by Mattias Forshage


CM Lundberg plunged into an inexhaustible well when breaking through his more or less noisy black-and-white roars of expressiveness a few years ago, all those explosions of words and bile and black gold that dazzled the eye and simultaneously put aside and flattered the intellect, by shouting about the massive width of possibilities everywhere without realising them; it turned out it was just a membrane, all the fires of hell projected onto a transparent surface, a paper-thin wall to break through, to discover a world on the other side. With a certain naive-looking style, and above all a compelling inner imperative to tell this story, which are shared with so many painters entirely outside the art institutions and educations (which he, as it were, is in fact not), yet with an attitude perhaps shared with only the most fearless, to see these worlds develop as they take shape on the paper with an utterly honest curiousness, without knowing it in advance, without the obsessive return to a central message or central experience, without any autobiographical or prophetical rationalisations.)


It is one of those worlds, that are not situated across the big desert or the dark river, but available right next to us, just slightly out of phase; the way there is only a matter of everyday magic: of taking up the challenge, finding out how it would feel to enter, make that sensation vivid, and cross. It is just a closet waterfall, a jelly gate, a simple step of transgression that slides us into another layer of reality. It was there all the time, we didn’t know about it, we didn’t need to know about it. Someone came knocking on our shoulder when we were talking a walk in the city, when we were drinking with our friends, when we thought we were completely alone, and insisted with a certain innocence that we should consider the existence of this world. Facing the challenge requires an effort which is not much more laborious than just taking a deep breath but has larger consequences for experience.

Having crossed the bridge, we immediately note the more vivid colors. The moon is green, the grass is blue, the streams are made of strawberry soda, the sea is orange. Just like a continent which we haven’t yet experienced, or the geography of a dream, it is one of those worlds where anything could happen – which is not the same thing as having all kinds of things happen. No, it has its patterns and probabilities, there is a particular flora and fauna and metereology; just because our experience hitherto isn’t enough to predict anything it doesn’t mean that it’s chaoric or pure. Things happen, we shouldn’t be surprised that they are different from what we’re used to, but we should also not refrain from amazement and wonder, out of some overzealous courtesy or some worldly-experienced cynical stance. The hills are looking at us, the trees are our friends. There is always this windling footpath taking us through ever new regions of the land, there are usually creatures sitting on the side of this path gazing at us as we pass, funny animals, sometimes just amusing sometimes quite scary, and like the caterpillar on the toadstool they all have things to teach us that will seem highly hermetic or, more often, just silly until we find out in what way they are literal truths. There is always the suburb with its tall buildings in one end of this path, but we may never get there. Or we may, and it wasn’t substantially different there.

It is an unusual world but there is nothing inaccessable about it, and we will not be seduced into chronicling our expeditions here as a naturalist of former centuries. There is one person who serves as the merchant of views from this country, and they do not form a map, it is rather like the haphazard morphology emerging from how the images have been shuffled and stacked on a rack as postcards, as if it was a site for tourist pilgrimage. This ghost map will always be a collage and have its limbs and sensory organs in strange places. We might become attached to a few or most of these views, and perhaps even want to have them framed on our walls, as if they were works of art (I would not be surprised if this is what art is), to be able to return to them as the proverbial windows towards this other world.

Other world? No idea. Obviously they are just snapshots of ongoings in these particular regions where everything keeps happening as if natural. They are not an elaborate private universe, not a toy world meticulously laid out on the attic floor.

In fact, among the most remarkable aspects here is that we do not see the idealised memory fragments of a childhood world, nor the utopian musings projected from a limited set of fixated partial drives; we do not find either of these, neither as idealised idylls regressively inflated by dreams invoking a harmony that is clearly a lie, nor as the haunting landscapes of unresolved obsessions. This is not a russian peasant or a declassed nobleman inventing the past. Why is this remarkable? Well, clearly there is someone offering us these images as a pure vision, for us to do what we want with it, rather than as an invitation to be seduced into a personal mythology, to partake in the funfares and quagmires of an mind cultivating its eccentricities or accumulated preferences, which can be as much a world, but one with reinforced borders and a ruler aspiring to omnipotence, which is clearly an opposite of what we have here. And in the particular way that this is not at all psychodrama, the ambivalence in terms of good/evil or idyllic/haunting becomes rather irrelevant, just like it usually is but we might need to be reminded by taking a walk in the forest, or looking at the sea. In a way, it is neutral just like the forest.

But on the other hand, there is this weird benevolence that greets us. Maybe even a haunting benevolence, a benevolence which is so unusual when it is not primarily religious or nostalgic, but rather just fearless. Maybe this is what we may read as madness. Matter-of-factness without hidden motives, without cynicism, egoism or malevolence. Well and then there is the unusual proportions. And all these gazes. And the fact that everything goes on as if natural, according to schemes and structures that are oblique to us. Of course we may assign either of these animals as spiritual guides, study at the feet of these cats, these strange ibis-flamingoes, these even stranger chamaeleon-monkeys, just like others have sat down on the ground to listen to the smoking caterpillar or the cormorant council. We will learn from this, but it will not be the animals that will tell us how it is, and there will not be a doctrine that will be revealed. And… And…