Born 1973 in Jöngköping, Sweden / Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden
Over the last two decades, Sweden, the country which in the 20th century established a model welfare state — the so-called Swedish socialism, or Folkhemmet, - has been going through a painful experience of globalization. For Sweden these new realities meant the end of its traditional isolationism and the disintegration of its long-established social communities. In her nostalgic and melancholic art Johanna Billing, being a witness to this process, advocates human community life, constantly emphasizing its frailty and even brevity. The artist's favorite medium is a peculiar video practice, exploring the boundaries between documentary and feature film. Almost all her works deal with situations initiated by none other than the artist. There she brings people together for a certain joint action, like dancing or singing together, going on a walking tour, fishing etc. These actions are organized in the mode of reality show: everyone performs their own role but in a situation which is new, extraordinary and, above all, is the necessary condition for the participants' encounter and interaction.
The Magical World (2005)
Video (DVD), 06.12 min
Billing tells the story behind her film: Magical World was shot during a summer day in 2005 in a free after-school center in Dubrava, a suburb of Zagreb. Never-ending footage of children rehearsing the 1968 Rotary Connection song Magical World... Active during the social upheavals and the civil rights movements of the 1960s, they reflected, in their songs, a desire for change without being – at the time – explicitly political. The film juxtaposes the historical context of this song with the real life of a generation of children growing up in a relatively young country facing the fast-paced development... in the face of European demands for future integration into the group of member states. Rehearsing the song in what for them is a foreign language, the children are seen to inhabit a complex intermediary zone socially, politically, and biographically. In this context the lines of the song make sense at different levels as well: Why do you want to wake me from such a beautiful dream? ... Can’t you see that I am sleeping? ... We live in a Magical World.'
Missing Out, 2001
Magic & Loss photos from making of, 2005
Magical World, 2005
Magic & Loss video stills, 2005
Magical World, 2005