Yes, maybe it is not strange at all, against this background of utopia and dystopia, that Magnus Petersson chose to build a town; and that this town was nothing more than an illusion housed in an empty, dark display case and when the black curtain was removed at dusk it captured the image, in the form of structure and light, of an illuminated square set in a modern town as if the question were precisely that, that the realization of utopia, via a centre of education and a council planning, can only be attained in imagining oneself as far away as possible from the moose. 

The installation must have looked like an inverted Christmas window dressing at NK’s in Stockholm to the passersby; an urban unreality; a fantastic Potemkin-like construction composed of pieces of board and found objects, such as plexiglass holders for brochures, transformed into enormous glass facades, whilst a plate of electroplated nickel silver, cut up in pieces, became the crowning glory of an Art Nouveau window on the ground floor of one of the buildings on the desolate square. Or was the installation to represent an architect’s model of a new centre in Högsby? One, which will however never be built.

The fact that Magnus Petersson surrounded the square with great luminous, modern galleries which lay interspersed between the other buildings and decorated with empty, white neon signs, can hardly be interpreted as something other than a quiet, ironic comment of the great cut-price supermarkets the council has enticed, during recent years, along the main roads on and around the outskirts of Högsby. Magnus Petersson says himself that his installation represents the moment the ordinary and everyday slip away into the twilight hour, the line between dream and dystopia.

Tom Sandqvist

Between Dream and Dystopia

It was hardly by accident that Magnus Petersson found the site for his installation in a disused, empty shop premises on Storgatan, in the centre of Högsby, a stone’s throwaway from the library, the travel agency, chemist and off-licence.  
Even the local council promotes the area as “ a living example of Swedish roots” boasting “ sights worth seeing, a landscape of great natural beauty and several areas of cultural heritage” whose epicentre offers the incidental visitor everything from postal services, banks to every other conceivable service, whereas Högsby is described elsewhere on the Internet as a community suffering from mass emigration, a large elderly population, unemployment and a weak economy. Högsby is also described quite simply as a community expiring of natural causes: “For Sale” signs can be seen everywhere as boarded up shops depressingly witness the council’s fight against the classic problems affecting rural districts. Karlssons, the supermarket, and a new centre for education apparently are exclusive in infusing this dwindling population with resolution. Whilst plans for the future, recently launched by the council and based on creating a particular “Högsby Profile” is rhetorically described as a platform for “the measures required, to put the district on the map, both nationally and internationally”.

Against this background of an obvious bleak reality and an apparent   resigned believe in the future, it maybe isn’t so odd that the project including Petersson’s sublime and vibrant urban depiction, is in fact titled “Between Reality and Wonderland” and moreover, that the short exhibition pamphlet which referred to the constant and continuous interplay between reality and fiction, also, gave corroboration to the fact that, it is actually, reality which nourishes all sorts of dreams and new ideas, and furthermore that specifically Högsby in Småland is the ultimate  real place: where the forest – especially the moose – presents many tourists with the opportunity of realizing their idyllic dreams about the nature, in real life.