Film: Unexpected and Unforeseen, 2024

2024, single channel HD video with voice-over, 16:9, stereo sound, 11:25 mins
A film by Malin Pettersson Öberg
Post production: Nils Fridén
English proofreading: Max Alletzhauser

In a new audiovisual essay, currently on view in the exhibition A Paralysis of One’s Inner Sense of Direction at SKF/Konstnärshuset in Stockholm, Malin Pettersson Öberg activates Japanese author Kōbō Abe’s existential and socially critical gaze. She reflects on the pandemic and post-pandemic society, and asks questions about how we respond to uncertainty. Is there anything useful in the unexpected and unforeseen? Drawing on writers such as Rebecca Solnit (2005) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007), as well as Buddhist thoughts reflected in the Japanese art form Ukiyo-e (1661), Pettersson Öberg thinks further about reverse movements and the experience of isolation and lack of control.

Installation view, A Paralysis of One’s Inner Sense of Direction, SKF. Photo: Giulia Cairone

In the exhibition at SKF, Pettersson Öberg equally connects to these themes through an ongoing series of paintings, Folded Sheets (2023-), five of which are shown in the exhibition. The paintings show forms and structures in paper, textile, branches or feathers, that Pettersson Öberg photographed while travelling in Asia and Europe in the years before the pandemic.

The video clips in the film are collected during the same period, and shot with an iPhone 11. Through a slow pace and a unifying slow camera movement – forward or lateral – the aim is to create a meditative state for the viewer to sink into, a state for reflection. What thoughts and experiences do we carry with us from the pandemic and post-pandemic period, and how can we use them to better navigate our way forward?

Unexpected and Unforeseen (2024) was first developed for the course Film as a Research Tool at Linnaeus University/Valand Academy in Sweden, 2023. Malin says: ”My aim was to provide a reflection on the years before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. A reflection that starts in my own experience of Post-Covid, and moves on to ideas presented by other writers. Thoughts and references brought up in this essay are among other ‘black swan events’ (Taleb, 2007), changes in society from open to closed as a result of pandemics (Norberg, 2020), the role of the unforeseen (Solnit, 2005), Buddhist ideas and the Japanese art of woodblock printing (Asai, 1661).”

Unexpected and Unforeseen, video still (2024)