Swedish visual artist and poet Karl Larsson’s 2007 debut Form/Force is a literary attempt draw on a number of sociopolitical stories and formats in order to observe the transition between the physical and the representative, with the poetic text as a subjective translational work where different degrees of the “documentary” and the “documentaristic” constantly confront each other. Form, here, has nothing to do with formalism, but revolves around actualizations or implementations of different formats, about an engagement with form-making and form-taking, with the making ofForm/Force at the center: “use the body as a vessel / or use the poem as a vessel / or use the story about someone / or something as a vessel.”
If the paratext – the title, author’s name, preface, etc. – provides the framework for the material in a book, then in Form/Force Karl Larsson explores Sweden as paratext, as well as the “para-artistic.” In the book’s five sections, Larsson investigates what takes place parallel to, or outside, the nation-state or the artwork (here a political action, a concert, Buddha statues, an interview) but which is necessary for its potential and function. The text repeatedly asks, under what conditions can artistic processes or political ideologies begin to take form? When does an artwork or ideology gain significance or meaning to a viewer? How does the meaning of the work or ideology come into circulation, and with the aid of what historical, political, or technological stories?
Selections from Form/Force were published in Issue 57:3/4 of Chicago Review.