In waiting for what is to come

A book about a picture

The Society

Sunshine & Shadow

Stories for an 87 year old lady

Artist Statement

Memories for a stranger

A demonstration of a sign of the horns

CV / Contact

Valentines day and other scenes

The looking glas photos

Instagram / News



One photograph, (from work, and life, in progress) premieres here every day, and appears during one day only.




I inherited a photo album from my grandmothers childhood at Mnene mission station in South Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
I opened the album and read the note:
“In waiting for what is to come”.
I then discovered that about half of the photographs were lost.
I travelled to Mnene, to a place I knew from the album and from a child memories of it, a hundred years ago, to (kind of) finish the album.

The project” In waiting for what is to come” is based on image combinations, where the pictures from my grandmother’s old album meets my own pictures. The old and new images are combined with notes and when put together a game of time and images is formed; before and after, filtered by chance, association and imagination.
The project is presented as a book, and as an exhibition (from which these images are an excerpt). The exhibition is interactive. As a book in exhibition form, where you, by opening and closing the frames, get access to the stories. The documentation on this website is from Göteborgs konsthall (Before we forget, 2019). The work has also been exhibited at Museum of work Norrköping (2018) and as part of the exhibition Within realities at Alma Löf museum 2019. It was nominated to the Swedish photobook award, and received The Swedish Book Art Award and The Hasselblad Foundation Photo Book Grant.

To buy a copy of the book: Journal


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Sunshine & Shadow is an autobiographical story in twenty chapters. These chapters may for example include a fireworks factory, a funeral, a shooting, a broken camera, or a found note. Each chapter begins with a short text . These texts are reminiscent of those that one can find in the old adventure novels (whose purpose was to describe what kind of grand events that will happen to the heroes of the adventure, in the next chapter). In the adventures of Sunshine & Shadow, the chapter that follows is told through photographs. The words in the texts visualizes scenes and stories, before you see them, that creates a play with associations between the images and the texts. The texts builds up expectations of what is to expect, which, when not met, confuses, and forces the viewer to fill in the gaps, be a detective, and build stories and connections of her own. Sunshine & Shadow challenges and plays with the idea of reality, chronology and historiography, by creating a loosened narrative where events and thoughts from a period of life (translated into photographs and texts) falters freely between different times, between the actual world, inner visions, everyday life, fairy tale, construction, sunshine and shadow.

This material is from the first chapters in Sunshine & Shadow.
Published as a book by Sailor press 2017. Nominated to the Swedish photobook award.

To buy a copy: Sailor Press


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These photographs are documentation from the project ”Memories from a stranger” (Minnen från en främling), exhibited at Jönköpings läns museum 2015, Avesta Art 2018, and as a permanent installation at The Alma Löf museum in Värmland from 2019-.
The project consists of a jukebox that, instead of songs, plays memories. These memories have been donated to me anonymously during my exhibition at Kulturhuset (Stockholm, 2013). I then made recordings of people reading them.
The project is interactive. You make the selection, and the jukebox will play it back for you. In this exhibition I am also requesting the visitors to share their own memories, and in the future they may find them in the jukebox.

The project continues…

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By Helga Härenstam and Olle Essvik

A conceptual collaborative project carried out from August–September 2015, published by Rojal and first presented at the photography book fair Fotobok GBG 15. The starting point for the book is a single photograph – to which around thirty different writers, poets, journalists, photographers and artists were invited to contribute their own written or visual interpretetion/comment. Those who accepted recieved an e-mail with the photo and an instruction not to spread it.

Catharina Gotby, Anna Lamberg, Erik Östensson, Johan Bergström, Klara Källström & Thobias Fäldt, Lovisa Ringborg, Simon Berg, Inka & Niclas Lindergård, Trinidad Carrillo, Ohlsson & Dit-Cilinn, Lotta Törnroth, Tuija Lindström, Lisa Grip, Frida Franker, Rikard Laving, Anna Strand, Robert Eklund, Emma Fredriksson, Lina Haskel, Andreas Gedin, Stefan Ohlsson, Daniel Boyacioglu, Kennet Klemets, Gert Z Nordström, Leif Holmstrand, Mathias Jansson, Jenny Morelli, Tina Carlsson, Lina Hagelbäck, Sara Arvidsson, Thomas Dahl, Rebecka Nordström Graf, Nora Bencivenni, Frida Sandström, Cecilia Grönberg

To buy a copy: Rojal


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This work is based on a collaboration between me and Vega Houses retirement home in Gothenburg. The project had the form of a study cirkle in photography that took place during six Wednesday afternoons in spring 2014. The photographs in this project are a mix between my own photographs and photos that the participants have taken, or brought, to some of the occasions we met.
The work is presented as a book that consists of a selection of photographs and texts. The texts are transcriptions from the recordings I did during some of our meetings.
The book is published in an edition of 80 signed handmade copies.

To buy a copy: Rojal


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”Stories for an 87 year old lady" is an art project based on photographs and texts published by Journal. It was selected for Hasselblad Center’s exhibition Published – Photo Books in Sweden, Gothenburg Museum of Art 2018. This project has also been exhibited as soloexhibitions at CFF (Center for photography, Stockholm 2012) and at Kulturhuset (Stockholm 2013). It has also been part of the groupexhibition "Dreamscape" at Bohuslänsmuseum (Uddevalla, 2013).

To buy a copy: Journal

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A demonstration of the sign of the horns is a story in photographs and the following text:

I took this series of photographs on a snowy afternoon in December when the light was strange and we were out playing in it. Stina-li wrote my name in the snow by walking it. I followed her without knowing what we were writing. After that, I walked a heart with an arrow through it and she followed me.
Stina-li had begun to make the ”devil sign”. For some reason, I don´t know why, she did it several times when she realised I had raised the camera to take pictures.
We then built a snowman whose base turned out to be too heavy to move.
I had no light meter that day, so I happened to underexpose some of the photographs.
A family of cutouts dolls and ghosts.

This series is presented as a book with sculpture (multiple) in a limited edition of 13.

Helga Härenstam (Photography) in co-operation with Olle Essvik (Form and sculpture)

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In The Looking Glass Photos i have been inspired by the photographs in an old family photo album and the associations they gave me. It is presented as a book/poster.
To buy a copy: Neva Books
The work has also been exhibited at Hippolyte Gallery Helsinki 2008, Format Gallery Malmö 2009, and Supermarket art fair Stockholm 2011.
The Looking Glass Photos is a story in 13 photographs and the following text:

'I wake up because it is light

because the light has found its way into my head telling me there are now things to see in reality
and that is more important

when that is no longer important, I´ll die'

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The title of the work draws its inspiration from an actual place. I have been looking for, and constructing, environments, scenes and events that are based on memories from the small community where I grew up. This place has got a name, but usually it is simply referred to as ”the society”. I see the work as a puzzle of pictures that deals with the borders between the documentary and the staged, the real and the unreal, the past and the present. It is also a story about a rural area that is becoming increasingly abandoned.
The work has been exhibited between 2008-2014 at: Seoul International Photography festival, Gallery Hippolyte, Helsinki, Centre de Photographie de Lectoure, Finnish museum of photography, Helsinki, Hasselblad center, ”From the collections”, Gothenburg, Centrum för fotografi, Karlskrona Konsthall and Göteborgs Konsthall.

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I left the house and took a walk into town to have plaice at the restaurant of the local supermarket, Ica Indianen. From this visit I remember his face, and those of the members of the dance band on the notice board.
In town they were selling fireworks and distress rockets. A new pizza place had opened, the library was closed, and there seemed to be a funeral under way. Torn out pages from a book lay scattered all the way from the totem pole to the Filadelfia Church.
In the ditch by the hot dog stand:
”It is always us women who end up suffering. To die is not to suffer. To suffer is to live when your loved ones are dead.”
In the parking lot outside the paint and cosmetics shop:
“The day is so short, the road is so long. So come run with my song, let us hurry away! Here is no peace to be found. In this place only wolves abound.”
By Nilssons Coats:
“There are lots of things that I can’t understand, all I know is that I have to comply with what the others decide.”

I wrote this text as part of my art project "Stories for an 87 year old lady".
I think that this text is a good description of my working method, which often involves to select and to construct meanings, associations and combinations, using the stories, objects and events, that comes across my everyday life- as starting points. My works usually ends up in the form of photographs or texts, and sometimes they become installations or social experiments/cooperation’s. I then present these works through books or exhibitions.
/Helga Härenstam


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Helga Härenstam
Born: 1980. Lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden

Ongoing exhibitions 2020:
Memories from a stranger, Pavilion at Alma Löv museum, Värmland.

Published books:
In Waiting for What is to Come, 2018. Helga Härenstam, Journal publisher.
Sunshine & Shadow,
2016. By Helga Härenstam, Sailor Press.
En bok om en bild
, 2015. By Helga Härenstam and Olle Essvik, Rojal publisher.
Valentines Day and other scenes, 2015. Helga Härenstam, Rojal publisher.
Stories for an 87 year old lady, 2013. Helga Härenstam, Journal publisher.
A demonstration of the sign of the horns, 2010. Multiple.
The Looking Glass Photos, 2009. Helga Härenstam.

Exhibitions - a selection:
Within realities, Alma Löv museum, Värmland. 2019
Here’s looking at you. Sven Harrys konstmuseum. Stockholm.2019.
Published- Photobooks in Sweden. Centrum för fotografi. Stockholm. 2019.
Innan vi Glömmer/ Before we forget, Göteborgs konsthall. 2018-2019.
(Solo exhibition)Museum of work, In Waiting for What is to Come. Norrköping  2018.
Avesta art ,”Memories from a Stranger”. Avesta  2018.
Deed- Photography from the Collection of the Gothenburg Museum of Art 2016.
Department of Psychology (from the collection of the Public Art Agency Sweden) Gothenburg 2016.
(Solo exhibition) Gallery 54, ”Memories from a Stranger/ Minnen från en främling” Gothenburg 2015.
(Solo exhibition) Jönköpings läns museum ”Memories from a Stranger”, 2015.
Bohusläns museum, "Dreamscape", Bohuslän 2014.
(Solo exhibition) Kulturhuset, Stockholm 2014.
(Solo exhibition) Ebelingmuseet, Eskilstuna 2013.
(Solo exhibition) CFF / Center for photography,   ”Stories for an 87 year old lady”, Stockholm 2012.
Kulturhuset, ”Supermarket art fair”, Stockholm 2012.
Finnish museum of photography, Helsinki 2012.
(Solo exhibition) Silvénska galleriet, Säffle 2012.
Hasselblad center, ”From the collections”, Gothenburg 2012.
Gothenburg art Museum, ”From the collections”, Gothenburg 2012.
(Solo Exhibition) Rummet, Galleri format, Malmö 2012.
(Solo Exhibition) Gallery Nordens ljus, Stockholm 2012.
Seoul photo fair 2009, Seoul.
Karlskrona konsthall, ”Fotografi nu”. 2012.
Seoul international photography festival, Seoul 2009.
Hippolyte studio, Helsinki 2009.
Liljevalchs konsthall, ”Vårsalongen”, Stockholm 2009.
La Bellevilloise, ”Jeune creation- art contemporian”, Paris 2007.
Norrköpings art museum, Norrköping 2007.
Centrum för fotografi, ”Fotografi- nu”, Stockholm 2007.
Centre de photographie de Lectoure, Lectoure 2007.
Hasselblads Center, ”New Nordic photography”, Gothenburg 2006.
Photo fair, Factory, Nacka Strand, Stockholm 2006.
Fiber gallery, Gothenburg 2006.
Gallery edition Copenhagen, Copenhagen 2006.
Doga-Norweigen museum of design and architecture, Oslo 2006.
Gallery Doktor Glas, Stockholm 2006.

Working experiences - a selection:
Board member CFF, Centre for photpgraphy since 2018.
Member of one of the Swedish arts Council's workgroups, “art works and cartoons”, since 2018.
Senior lecturer at HDK Valand (Visual arts, Univercity of Gotheburg) since 2013
Lecturer in visual art/workshops at  Yrgo photography school, Art college in Gothenburg since 2010-2013.
Board member of BOX, an artist driven gallery in Göteborg,  2014-2015.

Represented at - a selection:
Public Art Agency Sweden
Swedish Association for Art
Gothenburg art museum, Gothenburg
Hasselblad center, Gothenburg
Nordhems konst and design, Gothenburg
Various private collections

Selected Grants - a selection:
Project grant from the  Swedish arts grants committee (2019)
Hasselblad foundation photo book grant (2017)
Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse ( 2015)
2 Year working grant from the  swedish arts grants committee (2013)
Project grant from the  Swedish arts grants committee ( 2011)
Residency at HIAP,  Helsinki international artist in residency program (2011)
1 Year working grant from the  Swedish arts grants committee

Other appearances / reviews - a selection:

Culture documentary, 31/5-17. P1, SR
Culture documentary ”Bilden blicken, Marie Louise och träden” 26/10-15. P1, SR
Review of the book "Stories for a 87 year old lady" 5/12-12, P1, SR
Interview, "Stories for a 87 year old lady ", 17/3-12, Radio Stockholm
Interview, Dreamscape, 22/3-13, P1, Kulturnytt, SR
Review of the book "Stories for a 87 year old lady" 17/1-13 SVT
Review of the book "Stories for a 87 year old lady" UR Kunskapskanalen
(Gothenburg Book fair 2012)
Heart to heart, 22/12-08, Arirang tv
Magazines / books / blogs- a selection
Swedish Photography Fine Art magazine Verk, 2019-04-01
Review of the book ”En bok om en bild”, 15/12-15. Konstvärlden (Magazine )
Interviewed on the blog ”Kollektivet Mabel”, 1/12-15
Review of the exhibition "Memories from a Stranger" 31/1-15. Jönköpingsposten
Interview, Galleri 54:
Photographic archive (blog), 5/5-14
Konstsperpektiv (Magazine) 1/9-13
Review of the book "Stories for a 87 year old lady" Foto (Magazine ), nr 3-13.
Interview, kulturhuset, vimeo. 17/4-13
Review of the book "Stories for a 87 year old lady" Fotografisk tidskrift nr 6-12
”The Cinema makers”, Anna Schober, Intellect book UK, 2012
Interview by Anssi Koskinen ( Photo Art Talk- Finland) 14/5-12
Foams magazine, ”A book of beds”, 5/5-11
Interview Photonet, Korea 11/09.
Cap & design (Magazine ) 2/08.
Svenska dagbladet. 1/08

University of Photography, Master exam, Gothenburg
2003- 2006
University Of Photography, Bachelor exam, Gothenburg


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New book on photography!
Text about my work in the new VERK anthology
VERK magazine is a digital publication with publication four times a year focusing on Nordic camera-based art and during four different themes each year the field is examined and discussed. In VERK anthology a selection of texts from the journal is published from Jan 2016 - Jan 2019.

15/6- 1/9.
I am taking part of the exhibition Within realities, at Alma Löv museum
with the works "In Waiting for what is to come" and "Memories from a stranger"

I am participating in Verk Tidskrift, (No 2, 2019) "Six Photograpic Hang ups"

In Waiting for What is to come,
is one of the books rewarded in The Swedish Book Art award 2019! (Svensk bokkonst)
The jurys motivation: "Interesting play when the completing of an old photo album becomes a historical and autobiographical photo project, with a nice mix of authentic and new. Handwriting, binding and gold foil on green globe enhances the album feeling. Stylish surprise with slots in thinner paper in half-format."
The books are now exhibited at the National Library of Sweden, Humlegårdsgatan 26, in Stockholm.

 8/2- 10/3
My books Stories for an 87 year old lady (Journal) and Sunshine & Shadow (Sailor press) are part of the exhibition Published- Photo books in Sweden at Centrum för fotografi. CFF.
See program:

My book In waiting for what is to come (Journal) is nominated to the Swedish photo book award 2019. Welcome to the award ceremony and Swedish photo book day April 5. Hilton. Stockholm.

Exhibition at Sven Harrys konstmuseum. Stockholm
I am showing works as part of the exhibition Here’s looking at you curated by Hoyte van Hoytema
”A unique exhibition of iconic photographs from the Hasselblad Foundation’s Collection”
Welcome to the opening the 27th of February.

I was interviewed by Karsten Thurfjell (7/1 2019. P1 Kulturnytt) In a reportage about photo books in Sweden:

"Before we forget". Exhibition at Göteborgs konsthall (open until 13th of January 2019). I am taking part with the work ”In waiting for what is to come”:
Aftonbladet 22/12.

My books ”In Waiting for what is to come” and ”Stories for an 87 year old lady”, (both Journal publisher) are part of the new book:
”Published: Photobooks in Sweden”. By Niclas Östlind.
A study of the history of photobooks in Sweden - from the earliest examples from 1860s with glued in albumin prints to the contemporary photobook that expand the idea of what a book can be. Published has a unique perspective since it focuses on the practitioners engaged in the photobook, and together create the scene of photobooks. Ten of the most influential photographers, publishers, designers, collectors, librarians, writers and booksellers in Sweden are interviewed about their work and views on the photobook. The interviews show that the photobook culture is a truly international phenomenon. The books in Published: Photobooks in Sweden are grouped in three different themes that are crucial for photography and reflect the content of the books: Society, Ego and Image
Bookrelease, 9th of november, 18:30. Institut suédois, 11 Rue Payenne, Paris, Frankrike


I have a talk about working with exhibitions, together with Emma Torneus and Susanne Fesse at Bildverkstan, Gothenburg. Welcome! 29/11. 17.30

Polycopies bookfair 2018!, I have a booksigning at 14.00 10/11 in Paris, pass by Parisians & people that happens to be there.

Innan vi Glömmer/ Before we forget, Göteborgs konsthall
Before we forget
2018.10.06 - 2019.01.12
With the title Before we forget , the exhibition brings together a group of national and international artists; Petra Hultman, Helga Härenstam, Kateřina Šedá, Knutte Wester and Ferhat Özgür. Common to the various works presented in the exhibition is that they all describe in a different way a personal and close encounter between different generations - between artists and older family members - parents or grandparents. The exhibition examines what is happening in the meeting. What stories come forth when their own family forms the basis for an artistic exploration?
Vernissage: October 6, 2018
Petra Hultman, Helga Härenstam, Kateřina Šedá, Knutte Wester, Ferhat Özgür
Article "In waiting for what is to come" GP:
Review "Before we forget!" GP:

In Waiting for what is to come, Installation & Poster. Göteborgs konsthall 2018.

In Waiting for What is to come is traveling with Journal to Amsterdam and unseen festival, the 21st to the 23rd of September 2018.

Interview & article about my works by Yvonne Ihmells in Cora magazine no 54. 2018. Release at the Gothenburg book fair 27-30/9 2018:

In Waiting for What is to come and some of my other bookprojects are traveling to India and will be exhibited at The Kitab, photobookfestival, September 2018.

Avesta Art, 16/5-19/9
I am exhibiting the work Memories from a Stranger

Participating with the work "Valentines day and other scenes" in the book Art - Based Education: An Ethics and Politics of Relation(From the series Making Narratives by University of Gothenburg.

Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg.
Spring exhibition. on and on and on
MARCH 29 - APRIL 15, 2018
Opening Thursday, March 29, 2-5 PM (14-17)
(I am taking part with a photographic work from the series "Stories for an 87 year old lady")

I am Taking part of the exhibition "PUBLISHED Photo Books in Sweden",24/2– 6/5 2018. Hasselblad foundation, Gothenburg. I am exhibiting "Sunshine & Shadow" and "Stories for an 87 year old lady".

Book releases/artist talks In Waiting for What is to Come, Helga Härenstam, Journal publisher:
24/3. Museum of work. Norrköping.
9/3 CFF – The Centre for Photography.
10/3 Fotoboksdagen. Stockholm.
6/4. Hasselblad center. Gothenburg.
2/6. Photobookfestival. Kassel.

Solo exhibition at Arbetets museum ”In Waiting for What is to Come”. Norrköping 24/2-13/5


Radio reportage (in swedish) about my upcoming project "In Waiting For What Is To Come"

I recieved The Hasselblad Foundation Photo Book Grants 2017! for my upcoming book
"In Waiting For What Is To Come"

From my work Sunshine & Shadow
Attraction images: Contacting the audience through the visual arts (lecture series at Klagenfurt Univercity)


I have been nominated for the swedish photobook award 2017!

Review (link) "Sunshine & Shadow"


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