Leif Elggren – Death Travels Backwards

Leif Elggren

errant bodies – records, #05, 2009
“I wish the medium would be inside me” says Leif Elggren in an interview with the label owner Brandon LaBelle. The uneasiness that characterizes Elggren’s work is unfolded quickly and nervously during the interview, as a sort of performance, revealing important personal details in every answer about his own human and artistic condition. The insufficiency of media (even the real-time digital ones) to shape ideas quickly and effectively is stigmatized by Elggren who constantly narrates the hidden secrets and spectral enigmas he faces everyday. So his traumatic, life and art are inextricable, and serve his own requests to be expressively combined. The selected videos cover a decade (1999-2009) and have a few shared elements: fixed cameras, repetition (not in loop), almost no cutting, solo (isolated, old) objects, gestures. Sounds are sometimes real, vocal, ambient sounds, or can be amplified or pure (alternate) silence. Sometimes there’s a tension between the voice and the image, which results in the viewer becoming extremely uneasy. Elggren in a liner note on his first CD album fostered the idea of putting the cd on play and then leaving the house (“it’s not necessary to listen to this cd”). His radical incoherent consistency, a sort of channeled and understandable schizophrenia, generates oneiric and mysteriously compelling narratives. There’s no happiness nor irony in his work, but the way of dealing with sound, material objects and “immaterial” bodies is definitely converting fear into gestures, energy and light.