Jonas Falck – a rejected explorer’s observations

Since 2014 I have given life to Jonas Falck, active in the late 18th century. He considered himself to be one of Linnaeus’ disciples, something the great botanist never confirmed. It is in the footsteps of Jonas Falck that I catalogue unusual discoveries of mutated animals, extinct sea creatures and bone-filled mushrooms.

Experimenting in the studio
Experimenting in the studio

Sometimes intense, other times more in a haze, we talk, study and document. As well as I can, I recreate our findings in the mountains around Saxnäs and along the rugged shores of Fårö and Norra Kvarken. If our meeting took place today or two hundred and fifty years ago is irrelevant.

Exhibition view, Konsthall Norra Kvarken, summer 2019
Exhibition view, Konsthall Norra Kvarken, summer 2019

As in all historical records, I present an almost-truth. I have isolated events, reversed the course of time, and I have distorted facts. Jonas Falck is walking a bit to the side. A little off, but still with one foot in the real world, where he can experience and affect our lives.

Exhibition view, Konsthall Norra Kvarken, summer 2019

It may feel uncomfortable and humiliating, but in uncertainty emerges layers of possibility. Perhaps it can be described as a form of educated ignorance, the moment you consciously allow your world to be affected by a number of fictitious claims.

Exhibition view, Härnösands konsthall, autumn/winter 2016

Jonas Falck was born in Stigsjö, parish of Västernorrland, halfway up the Swedish coastal line, on October 9th 1748. He was the son of a rural postman Mattias Falck and Maria Svensson and remained unmarried throughout life. He had a role model who would influence him to the last breath, Carl Linnaeus. Notes and letters shows that Jonas Falck considered himself to belong to the ranks of Linnaeus’s disciples, which, however, Linnaeus never confirmed.

It was a meteorite impact at Kultsjön that brought Jonas Falck to Saxnäs in Lapland. The sketches and notes he created during his trip reveal local fauna of varied degree of mutation. This trip, as well as the one to follow – to the island of Fårö – was most certainly inspired by Linnaeus’s travels. It was not a mutated wildlife that drove his curiosity at Fårö, but the finds of ancient relics. The Fårö documents reveal most astonishing sketches of water creatures and a series of strange fossils.

Exhibition view, Nässjö konsthall, autumn/winter 2016

It is easy to read someone as mad. Especially the one who year after year immerses himself in a fantasy world, isolated in a small cottage to engage in something that obviously seems to be without end, without meaning or goal. But feelings of satisfaction and desire are rarely to be found in moments of recognition. Anticipation, hope and faith have a burning vitality, while success is fleeting. Hope and desire was Jonas Falck’s faithful companion till the end.

observations of mutation due to meteorite impact

observations of extinct, fossilized water creatures

observations of extinct, mushrooms with skeleton structure

  • August 5th, 2014