Three Years of Childhood...

Howling & Humans

A sunrise Drive-by

In waiting for what is to come

A book about a picture


Sunshine & Shadow

Stories for an 87 year old lady

Artist Statement

Memories from a stranger

A demonstration of a sign of the horns

CV / Contact

Valentines day and other scenes

The looking glas photos

Instagram / News

The Society



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




I found myself in an attic. In front of me was a bed with a smile made up of many small deaths. A smiley of flies. I photographed it. Imagined that I was someone or something looking back at an era when there were still people and childhoods. This someone/something was just drifting around looking for dandelions, photographs and other things. Not to investigate whether a civilization could be recreated, but more because there was nothing else to do. The fires had burned, the ice had melted, small and large species had died out. Then I left the wind and the smiley for the next visitor to discover.

A handmade book in an edition of 70 copies. The book consists of 34 color photographs, including: an arm/swan swimming in the dark, a girl behind a gate, a wall with the name HELEN written on it, a shadow with two heads, a cemetery with a lost mitten, and a boy resting in tall grass.

Helga Härenstam
Rojal 2024.
ISBN: 978-91-984928-9-7

To buy a copy: rojal

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Some time ago, I came across, a book titled The Seasons, written in the 18th century by James Thomsom. The texts in this book were created by translating, deleting, adding, combining words and writing new ones, inspired by the poems I found.  I started photographing inspired by these texts, and looked for connections between the words, and things I saw, in my time, in my life.  I cruised between the fall of kings and gods, roaring floods, a beauty that may be stupid in the heart, drowning people, an I, a we, a conversation with a you, the memory of a first derailment, the small life going on, and the big one, the apocalypse, a rattling eye that hold what you look at in the threads, a howling child, and a song.

The book is available in an edition of 270 copies

The project was carried out with support from the Swedish Arts Grants committee.

+ 30 in a (Playing) limited edition
Music by Justin Dean Thomas.

To buy a copy:

Review, Photobookjournal

Interview in VERK magazine

Documentation of the book and parts of its photographic series

Documentation from ”Howling & Humans” exhibited at Tredje våningen, Gothenburg 7-29/5-22.


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Everyday life, dreams, motherhood, the ravages of time, coincidences, chance and clues.
22 photographs and one page a day - written everyday
during a vacation when a jellyfish made of greaseproof paper arrived in the mail, a cassette tape diary from a blind grandfather was found, a fetus grew, the Fat Boy wrote "LIFE IS PAIN" on the bridge, poisonous stones and sparklers were eaten.

Participants: The Pet, The Child, The Swan, The Newcomer, The Bottle mail Writer, The Nail Biter, The Man, The Fat Boy, The Boy In The Superman Costume, The Old Mum, The Brook Horse, The Old Dad.

To buy a copy: Sailor Press

Documentation of the book and parts of its photographic series


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A Sunrise Drive-by (2023-Ongoing)

The ongoing work “A Sunrise Drive-by” was exhibited in the exhibition OTID at Studio Pilot, together with works by Nina Mangalanayagam, Anna Sofia Jernryd and Mette Hultesjö. (GIBCA extended 15-22/99- 23.) The exhibition ‘OTID’ used time as a starting point to in different ways touch, and perhaps edit the concepts of memories and histories through photography.

The work consists of photographic sequences, (one of which is presented here) and the following text:

It happened that confused people and animals wandered inside the wild fence. They warned about them on the radio. We ran across the Europe-an route 18, almost every day. Waited for a gap in
traffic, read the sign and shouted: ”Kongsvinger, Arvika, Trysil, Hagfors”. We ran until an old lady was run over and they dug a tunnel under the highway. But, when the underground tunnel
was finished, we had already moved to the biggest city, where there was almost nothing but roads. It happened that we were lying in the middle of the road and saw the light from the car becoming
stronger. A spotlight that, instead of fol-lowing people, just happened to illuminate us as we rolled off the stage and into the ditch. We kicked a lamp post and the birds screeched.
It happened that we cranked down all the windows of the car. Lock-ed the doors. Climbed into the backseat window. The hands touched each other over the roof of the car. The hair blew in a meeting that was blinding. Our car and the oncoming car honked at the same time. Our voices could not be heard.

It happened that we saw a sunrise Drive-By.



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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 Löv museum in Värmland from 2019-...
Initially, the project consisted of a jukebox that, instead of songs, played memories that have been donated anonymously during an exhibition at Kulturhuset (Stockholm, 2013). Then recordings was made of people reading them.
At Alma löv museum the memories are written on numerous small mirrors, and the collection of memories from strangers continues in the pavilion of memories…

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

Published books:
Vacation/Semester (2021). Helga Härenstam, Sailor Press.
Howling and Humans, 2021. Helga Härenstam, Journal publisher.
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:
Studio Pilot, OTID,”The roads.The scenes”. Gothenburg 2023.
(Solo exhibition) Tredje våningen, Howling & Humans. Göteborg 2022.
Alma Löv museum, Within realities, Värmland. 2019-…ongoing.
Sven Harrys konstmuseum, Here’s looking at you. Stockholm 2019.
Centrum för fotografi, Published- Photobooks in Sweden. Stockholm 2019.
Göteborgs konsthall, Before we forget. Göteborg 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” 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:
5 Year working grant from Sweden's Writers Fund. (2023)
Scholarship from SFF, The Photo authors and the Swedish Institute in Paris. (2023)
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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