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A Closer Look -- The Pier

The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
Opening The Pier, two sentences appear on the inside cover of the book. Printed in handwritten text, they read "Everything can be changed. Everything can be turned into poetry." These sentences serve as guides for the viewer and a thesis for the project documented within, a concise statement of the rational for an activity that many would see as outlandish. The slim paperback volume documents a street art project embarked upon by photographer Nils Petter Löfstedt and Erik Vestman. Having discovered a cavity under a pier in Malmö, Sweden, Löfstedt and Vestman worked for 5 months to convert this anonymous concrete interior into an inviting room. Bringing building supplies to the pier by bike and working mostly at night by the light of headlamps, Löfstedt and Vestman squeezed between the rocks beside the pier to enter and build the space, cleaning it of debris, rocks and seaweed, painting the walls white, framing out and laying a parquet floor, adding a door and window and ultimately creating a beautiful space in a magically unexpected location. What they created has been called "Sweden's most secretive and at the same time widely discussed street art projects."

The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
Löfstedt is no stranger to street art -- a few examples can be seen in his first book, Club 13, which includes images of several of his projects involving photographs and sidewalk blocks. After affixing images to the tile-like blocks that make up the sidewalk, Löfstedt swapped them in for the original image-less blocks creating a mosaic on the street itself. There is an ecstatic quality in undertaking this kind of clandestine work, one that Löfstedt manages to capture in these images of the construction of the room. Though tired and cold-looking in a number of the images of the two men on break, there is also a palpable sense of joy -- one that can only come from setting out an absurd task and making it a celebration of life and possibility. A mix of black & white and color, the images are a lovely combination of the process of the room's construction (and ultimate release to the public) and striking shots of small moments and the beautiful surroundings of the pier. A handwritten epilogue tells the story of what happened after the project was completed.

The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The Pier -- Nils Petter Löfstedt
The book also includes a 28 minute documentary of the same name which presents another perspective on this amazing art project. The film captures the entire process, from the first cleaning to the opening party and is shot in black & white with still images from the book interspliced. Shot by Löfstedt, Vestman becomes the focus, sharing his delight in the project and commenting that it feels more important than his paying job, a dedication that leads to a few personal difficulties as the process goes on. Documenting attempts to acquire building materials and the panic of possible intruders into their secretive project, the film provides a wonderful new dimension on the art piece. In Swedish, it is presented with English subtitles. The trailer can be seen below. -- Sarah Bradley


PIREN / THE PIER - trailer from Stavro Filmproduktion

Purchase the book here.

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