Daniel Jouseff distils imagery from a constant stream of news photographs, popular culture, memory and philosophy. Ideas are found through a strategic form of chance. The artist selects a book for the day through pure instinct, a page flicks open and a sentence stands out with an instruction in the next step of art making. Life and artistry become a mix of staging and living, of experiencing visuality fully with all senses.
Photo: Daniel Jouseff, portrait.
I came across the work of Daniel Jouseff in a story told to me during a bus ride. It seemed fitting to hear about his art while moving. Travelling, but not vast distances. It was a bus ride with friends and new acquaintances, chatting about art and experiences while moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in a west coast Swedish city. It was a bit like being drunk midday when sunlight is strong and you feel slightly off balance while everyone else is straight. I was told of Daniel’s friendship with legendary photographer Lennart Nilsson. (I don’t remember why. Maybe I said something about cultural heritage being fluid? About trying to break the notions of Swedishness that at times seem as mundane as the beloved knäckebröd-crackers on everyone’s shelf in the land of perfect social engineering?)
The name Lennart Nilsson brings to mind photographs of floating fetuses, human as space traveller of the womb, suspended in time and space. Daniel’s works are of a different nature. Yet the two share curiosity as a driving force when it comes to creating. In the loving hands of Jouseff the archive of Nilsson’s legacy enters a visually brutal and honest conversation. Swedish visual iconography meets the iconography of the post-internet era as filtered by Jouseff. In the work of Nilsson we encounter everyone and everything from Swedish royalty to the monarchy of social democracy and the explicit love of wilderness tamed. In the art of Jouseff notions of identity are reconstructed in the constant feedback loops of media remixed; the arab, the immigrant, the other. The algorithms (and often racist lenses) of post-globalisation imagery seeping through mainstream media are drawn, painted, cut up and tweaked by Jouseff. Computer automated translations carried out by the hand, a Swedish flag draped in a matter that makes me think of beds neatly made, sheets tucked by… Someone else.
Daniel Jouseff scratches the eye, makes images both emotionally uncomfortable and comfortably familiar. Stereotypes questioned and redrawn with the tools of an observant eye and swiftly moving hand. What powers do we possess in the making of cultures? Jouseff seems to suggest that our ability to regenerate new imagery is as vast as the material given to us by history at hand.
Joanna Sandell, director, Södertälje konsthall