work in progress group 2 – Oskar Majewski

by Oskar Majewski on April 18, 2012

I will try to represent myself within the creative method of a semi-constructed photographic narrative of my ‘identity’ by focusing on habitus in the sense of daily behavioral activates and how they define me, and what cultural, socio-political, subjective and personal contextual dimensions they speak, relate and belong to.

My question is “What are my daily activities, environments and how do they define me?”

I have chosen to make a smaller photo collage of eight different themes and environments which I think are important to me, that I think define me in different ways but also say something about living in Malmö. They are; Möllevången, my apartment, my kitchen, bicycling, buying groceries, work, school, and enjoying the nightlife. First I was thinking of documenting a “typical” day, but it becomes problematic when each day appears very different and looking at details there is no such thing as a “typical” day for me, some days are just spent working and sleeping, others biking, eating, hanging out with friends. This is the reason I wanted to go beyond the format of a documenting-style log dairy and approach it in a more artistic thematic way. The themes I have chosen still represent “typical” activities and environments that I encounter on a daily basis, but representing them in this manner creates a larger encompassing view of my life than just deconstructing a single day. The themes or settings, environments, events photographed are based on what I view myself as significant or time-consuming activities, and also are representable into a larger frame of reference juxtaposed to an audience in Dar es Salaam or Malmö. Defining what is significant to the narration of one’s identity becomes (among other things) a cultural, sociological and psychological question, which I will try to explain with each photographic collage.

I have used a collage of four pictures for each setting in order to get a broader impression and flow of representation of each theme. Using only one picture could have the risk of being too narrow and simplistic, and using too many pictures could be messy and abundant, especially in the format of a blog. Some of the pictures I have taken myself, and some my friends have taken in order to capture me in that environment. In either way, the photography will be a subjective construction, and by putting myself in it adds a distancing space for reflexivity, a Lacanian gaze of self-awareness. However, the construction of the photography is not far from objective reality, as it is documenting real environments and real activities that I participate in. For example, the process of me documenting myself eating breakfast, and then letting my friend take a picture of me eating the breakfast, does not alter the fact that I’ve just ate breakfast. This resonates also to the modality of production of the photography, the speed, simplicity and commonness of digital cameras.

(The issue of “roots and routes”, “layers of identity” and “belonging and heritage” are of course a very broad subject which could be investigated and deconstructed in numerous ways, as different types of social constructions, but my focus is more on “routes” in the present, identity trough community, belonging trough daily activities, this in order to maintain a balanced form of objectivity as opposed to focus on my historical roots which would then take on the course of a more subjective storytelling. (This is also a problem of scope, logistics and time, as my parents moved from one village to another and going back, for photography/research, would take time and the whole subject of researching history would take on the form of another project.) This case has been mostly process driven in a self-reflective philosophical way for me with a starting focus on photographing the present, and this is where I want to narrow it down.)

The neighbourhood of Möllevången (or Möllan as it’s called) has the reputation, although debated, of being an area of mixed ethnicities, multicultural, creative, and youthful area of Malmö, with several pubs, restaurants, clubs and art galleries. I lived in Malmö for seven years ( three in Möllan) and its definitely my favourite part of Malmö.  Being a second generation immigrant from Poland, I don’t necessarily feel a strong belonging to neither a Swedish or Polish national identity, and this non-homogenous neighbourhood appeals to me. It is also a neighbourhood which predominantly votes for left-wing parties, (as do I) which also gives me a sense of belonging. There is also a process of gentrification going on, which I assume I am a part of because of my education.
The first pictures represent Möllevångsstorget (Möllevångssquare), which sometimes is very energetic and full of life and by just walking along for a couple of minutes I could usually find some acquaintances, the smallness of Möllevången is something I appreciate in this sense. The second picture is of a “typical” small boutique on Möllevången, run by an immigrant selling hookahs, which I enjoy using, which could also be a “typical” Swedish thing to enthusiastically absorb others cultures.  The third picture is a legal graffiti wall which I like walking past looking at, because it gives an artistic youthful playfulness to the urban environment which I could associate with. The fourth picture is of Folkets Park (the Peoples Park) which is in Möllevången and the mosque-like building is a club I frequently visit, on most summer days I often have picnics on these grass fields.

And this is as far as I have come with my work. Here are some more pictures and short descriptions, which I will later elaborate on.

Living collectively with friends in a rented apartment in the ‘bohemian’ area Möllevången in Malmö.

The kitchen as a central place not only for eating but also for meetings, exchange and the Swedish concept of “fika”.


Biking is my main mode of transportation. I really like biking and its something I do almost everyday, even if its snowing or raining. Malmö is a great city for biking because its flat and has several well kept bike lanes going in all directions.

The daily mundane act of consuming groceries at the Ica store, a “typical” store which can be found everywhere in Sweden. Here ones identity becomes that of a consumerist westerner, choosing between a vast surplus of different products produced mainly in poorer countries.

I work as traindriver, it’s a nice high status job and a well paid, but non the less competitive and repetitive wage labour within a privatized capitalist framework. Here I assume the identity of a worker.

Malmö University, is a place where I study full time, and where I got this assignment. Here i assume the identity of a student.

Enjoying the nightlife by going to bars and clubs, drinking beers and dancing with friends is an activity I put great value in.



kayoka charles April 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm

a commendable attempt. having a collage of more than two photos makes the details hard to fine. then, how did you come up with the eight themes? this is also a challengine attempt, of doing ethnographic study of self. Was it necessary for your to put captions under each of the photos it tends to “fix meaning”. think about it. the rationale for self portayal is unclear yet. but a great stride you made there.

Anders Hög Hansen April 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thank you. In addition to Charles comment above (and this morning where you went by our office) I just wanted to sum up a few things.

It is very interesting how a young man’s life in Malmö includes a variety of different spaces and identitifications that make up one complex identity. You have Polish ancestry, you drive a train, you study, you discuss in the kitchen in your flat share, you bike etc. – You may be open towards Möllan because of your particular history etc – so you prefer spaces with many/multiple signification? (see below Cresswell book on Places).

Your contribution on the blog becomes a visual tale of your ‘tribes’ or different belongings and their possible connection or disconnection.

100 years ago maybe all your life would have been on the farm, now you are moving about on your bike, in the train etc.

You can, as said earlier, adapt various methods on auto-ethnography and the biographical from Många Möjliga Metoder, you may be doing it visually and you may ‘interview yourself’. Also on the visual aspect the chapter in Gillian Rose on photos as research tool (in addition to Charles lecture ppts) may be useful.

Also, the issue of space becoming signified as a particular place – Anders lecture ; ) Cresswell chapter 1 – may be of use and how that place may change function and ‘feel’. In the morning the flatshare or dorm kitchen may be a place for a breakfast in silence, in the nighttime it is a semipublic buzzing discussion forum etc.. depening on who is there, noise, talk, is it filled with morning fruit or beer bottles etc…

Good luck, Anders

david April 23, 2012 at 4:30 am

for me that is good about your person life,but is it so flat life with no problem around?everything is going so smoothly in your daily life?no problems in it.All in all the ideas is good and nice.

Oskar Majewski April 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Interesting comment! But my aim is not to show my life as good or bad, full of problems or joy, smooth or rough, but rather to show how different layers of identity interact within different urban environments and activities.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: