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Interviews: Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt on B-B-B-Books

The five titles from B-B-B-Books
Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt (or KK+TF as they are often referred to collectively) are photographers based in Stockholm who work individually and in collaboration. Though distinctive in their photographic practices, both photographer's work features the use of flash, creating an other-worldly feel to what are often mundane subject matter, and causing their images to work together seamlessly. In 2008, the photographers took their collaboration into the publishing world, working with design company 1:2:3 and Marika Vaccino Andersson to produce a book of Källström's work, Gingerbread Monument. In August of 2011, the photographers and designers created B-B-B-Books and since then have produced 581c, a volume of Fäldt's work with a peculiar endless design, Wikiland, a KK+TF collaboration looking into the high-profile trial of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Blackdrop Island, a follow up to Källström's Gingerbread Monument, and Europe, Greece, Athens, Acropolis, another KK+TF collaboration focusing on the general strikes in Greece in October of 2011. In total, these have been some of the most innovative and impressively designed photobooks I've seen at photo-eye this year. For B-B-B-Books, the collaboration between photographers and designers is as vital dialogue, the books themselves becoming a mode of communication beyond the voice of the photographs. Unusual and engaging, they are photography books that encourage examination.

KK+TF took some time to answer some questions for us after returning from their first exhibition in the United States at The Popular Workshop in San Francisco. The show runs through September 7th.

Sarah Bradley:     Both of you have independent photography practices, but also work collaboratively. When did your joint practice start and how did it come about?

Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt:     We started working together in 2005. We temporarily lived in a small town in Sweden. There was a neighborhood not too far from us, a typical Swedish villa area. It had a beautiful name that led the thoughts to more southern latitudes, it was called Peru. We borrowed a friend's car and went to Peru a lot during the winter of 04/05. We listened to music in the car and dreamt of traveling. Since that winter, we have done projects together.
SB:     What led you to work with 1:2:3 and start B-B-B-Books?

KK+TF:     One of the members of B-B-B-Books, Marika Vaccino Andersson, made a project about perception and photography in 2007 and invited Thobias to be in it. Through that project, we came in contact with 1:2:3. When Klara did her first book Gingerbread Monument in 2008, the five of us collaborated for the first time and that group is what later became B-B-B-Books.

SB:     I'd love to hear what goes into making a project and book like Wikiland. From collaboration between photographers as the project is being shot to your collaboration with 1:2:3 as designers when the book is being produced, how does the process work?

KK+TF:     The idea of doing a number of images of a certain place, a state of mind or whatever catches the interest is a rather intuitive thing. The design gets intertwined with this intuition and from this meeting, something new comes. It's a call and response kind of situation. It's a continuous dialogue between us and the designers. The methods we use for saying the similar thing are different, but one gets to learn how to put words on conveying these things to creating an object.

SB:     There is a clear narrative element to your work. I recently read something said by Thobias, that the stories are made up after the images are taken. How does this relate to your book projects? Do you consider the book design to be part of storytelling?

KK+TF:     Yes of course, the design of the book is what brings out the story. The design elements for telling a story differ in many ways from a visual language like photography. But to be able to make a photographic story physical, like when you do a book, you need to rephrase the story for this specific purpose.

Blackdrop Island on press
SB:     Both of Klara's books, Blackdrop Island and Gingerbread Monument, feature written contributions from Viktor Johansson.  I'm interested in the importance of incorporating these written pieces into a photographic book. How do you perceive of the relationship between Johansson's text and your photographs?
KK+TF:     The relationship between the photographs and Viktor's poems was already there before they even started collaborating. Klara found a paper with an extract from Viktor's first book Kapslar (Capsules). Klara felt strongly connected to the way the writer formulated his gaze at the world. It was really that simple. So, it was a very natural thing for Klara to contact him and ask if he would be interested in looking at her work and maybe write to it.

SB:     Has the process of designing and producing your own books affected how you make photographs?

KK+TF:     Not all projects we make fit as book projects. So we don't think the book process affects how we make photographs.

SB:     B-B-B-Books is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month with five books published so far. Do you plan to keep publishing at the same pace? Do you intend to keep B-B-B-Books focused on published the work of KK+TF or will you expand to include other artists?

KK+TF:     Yes, it's soon B-B-B-Birthday!  It has been good first year to us. We have projects we want to make and we will continue the production in the pace of the projects. That is the reason why we started this. Whenever there is a project ready, we can publish it. We have two or three new titles for this coming fall/winter.  B-B-B-Books could maybe include other collaborations, the future will tell.

Find more information on all of B-B-B-Books publications here

Read Sarah Bradley's post on Gingerbread Monument, Blackdrop Island, Wikiland and 581C here