Paris – An Orbit Portrait (2011)

2011, one channel still image video projection with voice over, 15.30 min
Narration in Swedish: Windy Fur Rundgren
Subtitles in English (translation): Steven Cuzner

Watch the film online

Paris – An Orbit Portrait is an essayist film portraying the city of Paris, or perhaps rather, the impossibility of such a portrait and the relationship between the Swedish and French culture. Circling the image of a city depicted so many times before, the film examines the difficulty of separating a place from its ideas and preconceptions, and might tell more about the person looking than about the place itself. Paris – An Orbit Portrait is based on two different narratives; Malin Pettersson Öberg’s black and white photos taken in Paris between 2005 and 2010, and quotations from the book Vad man vill veta om Paris (What one wants to know about Paris) by Torgny Wickman from 1953. This book was written at a time when Paris was still perceived as an expensive and exclusive tourist destination for most Swedes, and the author an unchallenged interpreter of this “capital of luxury and pleasure”. Today, much has changed. The selected quotes and images construct a new fragmented story, undermining the unity and coherence of the narration and examining the significance of the author. Established viewpoints and interpretations are questioned through a blending of different perspectives and points of view. The title’s terms orbit and orbit portrait are used in physics and mathematics in order to describe a curved path by which one body circles another body or two bodies circle around a central point; an analogy to how the film’s two parallel stories relate to one another and to the city that they describe.

For more information about the film (in French/Swedish), please see the Roundtable conversation held after the screening at the Swedish Institute in Paris, June 2012. The film has been produced within the framework of the Project programme for professional artists at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm 2010-2011, and with support by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Windy Fur Rundgren has made the voice interpretation and Steven Cuzner the English translation.