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time for me to die
oh well time for me to live
oh well and then he stepped into the image
died his way in, as he had into life” (Bob Hansson)
"From a poem in the newly published book 'Ending', a photo essay about panic disorder, getting old and cancer, but also about a long rewarding relationship. (...) It’s really about how you piece it all together: the anxiety attacks in the wake of the realisation that one is ageing rapidly, while at the same time seeing the light in a relationship. My images are more about the thoughts triggered by the disease than the disease itself. (...)
'Ending' does not present conclusive answers – everyone can delve in with their own history and experiences, and my hope is that the book can offer the viewer a sense of perspective regarding their own lives and ageing processes.” (Leif Sandberg)
"Leif SANDBERG (*1943) is an ordinary person, but a truly extraordinary photographer.
Life took a real turn when he at the age of 64 learned that he might have pancreatic cancer. During the struggle that followed, he initiated a project where he, through the use of images, conveyed not only the emotional roller-coaster of dealing with the illness, but also the coming to terms with the harsh realisation that the ageing process had really taken its toll. (...)
From the start, the focus was not only on dealing with the fact that life was coming to an end – a thought stemming from the anxiety attacks brought on by years of career stress.
The act of photographing also constituted a form of therapy, and the images also came to depict the true significance of his 40-year relationship with his partner. (...)
'Ending' is Leif Sandberg’s story of receiving news of a life threatening disease and of dealing with the ageing process. Sandberg has created an oeuvre that is urgent both with regard to content and the medium itself.
The photo book 'Ending' is Leif Sandberg’s debut. Ending also features a poem by Bob Hansson inspired by Leif Sandberg’s story. (...)
Leif Sandberg has participated in work- shops with, among other notables, Anders PETERSEN, JH ENGSTRÖM, Roger BALLEN and Antoine D’AGATA. Over the course of these workshops, the material slowly emerged, and the series 'Ending' eventually resulted in well-received exhibitions at the Landskrona Photo Festival 2014 and at Galleri Ralf in Stockholm 2013/14. 'Ending' is Leif Sandberg’s first monograph and he is currently working on a project that picks up where this book leaves off." (publisher's note)
"There are several shopworn clichés that typically accompany the man who has just been notified that he has an incurable disease and only a short time to live. There is the 'live life to the fullest' and catch up on the remaining bucket list items narrative, with exotic travel and sky diving placed at the top of the to do list, without much regard to personal risk or bodily harm, given the circumstances. And there is the 'get your affairs in order' story line, full of meetings and goodbyes with distant family members, old friends, unresolved estrangements, and tax lawyers.
But these last minute escapades and mundane practicalities entirely overlook the wrenching emotional trauma of coming to terms with the idea that death stands nearby, especially if the terminal diagnosis comes as something of a surprise. And if Leif SANDBERG’s powerful photobook 'Ending' is any guide, it is an intensely personal process of refection and self-recognition, full of anguish of both the mind and body.
The trials and tribulations of the aging male have not been a subject that many photographers have chosen to explore. Of course, we have seen countless stoic portraits of weathered elders across generations and geographies, but few projects have gone beyond the surfaces of these masculine ideals. Two notable exceptions to this general rule have been John COPLANS’ unflinching nude portraits of his own aging body (the wrinkled skin and sagging, hairy body parts often enlarged to cover an entire wall), and Sally MANN's sensitive portraits of her husband Larry (gathered under the title 'Proud Flesh'), where his atrophying muscles were artfully mixed with the expressive chemical splashes of her antique process.
But in both cases, the psychology of these men was only alluded to indirectly, via their poses and gestures – we never really get inside the inner workings of their aging male minds.
The bravery to be found in SANDBERG’s photographs starts with the simple admission that the stiff upper lip exterior we expect from men in this situation masks a roiling maelstrom of emotions, including among others, outright panic, fear, and unrelenting anxiety. Liberally using multiple exposures, blur, and other manipulations, SANDBERG has gone beyond the literal in his images and deliberately moved into the realm of the metaphorical, where his expressive compositions act like stand-ins for his various emotional states. He has also interleaved images of decaying interiors and rotted, stained architecture, using them as foils for his portraits, scarred places to go with his scarred body.
Each self-portrait illustrates a different facet of the harrowing experience. We see him drowning under a deluge of water (screaming open mouthed as it occurs) and suffocating under a silk sheet. In several images, he seems to leave his body, wandering like a naked ghost or multiplying out into copies of himself that become jumbled and intermingled as they dissolve into the surroundings. In others, he is being buried (alive) by dark dirt like a corpse and hangs from a rope like a side of meat.
A shedding of skin metaphor is evoked by various high contrast images of snakes and reptiles, his wrinkles not unlike their interlocked scales. And an erasure theme also recurs, with faces rubbed out by blur and his whole body disappearing into nothingness. Finally, in many pictures, Sandberg grasps and tears at his own body (sometimes with more than one set of hands), the waiting and wandering given a deep sense of anguish.
The only balance to this intense parade of emotional trauma is the presence of SANDBERG’s partner. While she too is aging, and suffers from moments of erasure (or forgetting?), she provides a calming influence on the process. He tenderly observes her hair while she sleeps, examines the contours of her face, and relishes the joy of her touch. In the latter half of the photobook, she provides a source of quiet comfort, standing by him as he lashes out at the darkness and embracing him with care and concern in his moments of weakness.
SANDBERG has studied with both Anders PETERSEN and JH ENGSTRÖM, and hints of their respective styles have crept into his own aesthetic.
From PETERSEN, he has drawn a mood of psychological darkness, where grainy textures and up-close rawness give the pictures some of their jolt.
And from ENGSTRÖM, he has allowed vulnerability and intimacy into his vocabulary, finding comfort in the nudity of his own body and the expressionistic blurs of indistinct detail.
But SANDBERG has incorporated their learnings into his own distinct style in such a way that the images don’t feel directly derivative – we can see the linkages, but Sandberg’s voice is authentically his own, his struggles all too real to be borrowed from anyone else.
In many ways, this photobook feels like a therapeutic exercise. By naming his demons, SANDBERG has perhaps made them more manageable, allowing the process to come full circle toward a kind a catharsis. At the end of the book, white spackled paint explodes out into a galaxy of dust and Sandberg is left in the lovingly knotted embrace of his partner, their relationship having weathered the storm so to speak. Whatever the final outcome may ultimately be, Sandberg has courageously shown us the honest undulations of his mind, and that baring of the soul is both impassioned and exhausting, leaving us in a meditative place of resignation and calm." (Loring KNOBLAUCH, in: Collector Daily, June, 8th 2017)
Der in kleiner Stückzahl verlegte Fotoband 'Ending' handelt gleichermaßen von der Angst und der Akzeptanz des Sterbens sowie der Beobachtung des Alterns.
Am Ende eines gestressten Arbeitslebens und in einer erfüllten Beziehung erfährt der schwedische Fotograf Leif SANDBERG von seiner lebensbedrohenden Bauchspeicheldrüsenkrebs-Erkrankung und reagiert darauf mit dem kreativen Verarbeitung durch die Fotografie.
Das Ergebnis - auch diverser Workshops, u.a. mit Anders PETERSEN, JH ENGSTRÖM, Roger BALLEN und Antoine D'AGATA - ist dieser bedrückend ehrliche Fotoband 'Ending'.
Zeit für mich zu sterben
Oh well Zeit für mich zu leben
Oh gut und dann betrat er das Bild
Starb, wie er es im Leben gewohnt war" (Bob Hansson)
"Aus Bob HANSSON's Gedicht im Fotoband 'Ending', einem Foto-Essay über Panikstörung, das Älterwerden und den Krebs, aber auch über eine lange erfüllte Beziehung. (...) Es geht darum, wie du alles zusammensetzt: die Angstattacken im Gefolge der Erkenntnis, dass man schnell altert, während man gleichzeitig das Licht in einer Beziehung sieht.
Meine Bilder handeln eher von den von der Krankheit ausgelösten Gedanken als von die Krankheit selbst. (...)
'Ending' gibt keine schlüssigen Antworten - jeder kann der eigenen Geschichte und den eigenen Erfahrungen vertrauen; meine Hoffnung ist, dem Betrachter über dieses Buch eine mögliche Perspektive in Bezug auf ihr eigenes Leben und den Alterungsprozess anzubieten." (Leif SANDBERG)
"Leif SANDBERG (* 1943) ist ein gewöhnlicher Mensch, aber ein wahrhaft außergewöhnlicher Fotograf.
Das Leben nahm eine scharfe Wendung, als er im Alter von 64 Jahren erfuhr, dass er Krebs haben könnte. Während des darauf folgenden Kampfes initiierte er ein Projekt, in dem er durch den Gebrauch von Bildern nicht nur die emotionale Achterbahn des Umgangs mit der Krankheit vermittelte, sondern auch die Annäherung an die Erkenntnis, was ihm das Altern wirklich genommen hatte. (...) Von Anfang war er nicht alleine darauf fokussiert, dass das Leben zu Ende ging - ein Gedanke, der aus den Angstangriffen resultierte, die durch den Stress einer jahrelangen Karriere betont wurden.
Der Akt des Fotografierens bildete auch eine Form der Therapie, und die Bilder entstanden auch, um die wahre Bedeutung seiner 40-jährigen Beziehung zu seinem Partner darzustellen. (...)
'Ending' ist Leif SANDBERGs (eigene) Geschichte, vom Erhalt der Nachricht über eine lebensbedrohliche Krankheit und wie man sich sich mit dem Alterungsprozess auseinander setzt. Sandberg hat ein Oeuvre geschaffen, das sowohl vom Inhalt her als auch als Medium berührt.
'Ending' ist das Leif SANDBERGs Fotobuch-Debüt und enthält auch ein Gedicht von Bob HANSSON, welches wiederum von Leif SANDBERs Geschichte inspiriert wurde. (...)
Leif SANDBERG hat neben weiteren auch an Workshops mit Anders PETERSEN, JH ENGSTRÖM, Roger BALLEN und Antoine D'AGATA teilgenommen. Im Laufe dieser Workshops entwickelte sich das Material langsam und die Serie 'Ending' führte schließlich zu Ausstellungen auf dem Landskrona Photo Festival 2014 und der Galleri Ralf in Stockholm 2013/14. 'Ending' ist Leif Sandbergs erste Monographie; derzeit arbeitet er an einem Projekt, das dort anknüpft, wo dieses Buch aufhört." (publisher's note)