top of page
  • Writer's pictureC-print

Trinidad and Oneiromance

Trinidad Carrillo is a visual artist, based in Gothenburg, who since years has been one of the true gems in Swedish lens-based art, and in fact was one of the 13 artists in our very first curated group exhibition almost 10 years ago; Yesterday We Wanted to Be the Sky, at Kamarade. The month of May sees the opening in Stockholm of the three-person exhibition Himlakroppar at Konstnärshuset, with the subsequent release of her new book Oneiromance at said venue. What for long were two parallel tracks in her life; her lens-based practice and her musical and performative project Pentarpolar birds, are increasingly merging closer together. "Pentapolar Birds is something I am so thankful for. It’s a physical and mental experience of the process of life. It’s words painting pictures, happening through my body. Recently I understood that it’s not just an alter ego. That is my real self", she says.

Trinidad Carrillo, Summoning, 2015

C-P: What significance in time does your new book have for you?


T.C: The images were taken 2015-2020. It started when I was entering a personal storm. That storm led me to plants. Oneiromance has evolved around the trinity of magic composed by plants, dreams, and music with focus on song. During the process of Oneiromance I have learnt a lot about sacred plants with an emphasis on Peru’s ancestral knowledges. It is totally linked to our views and relationship with the environment, with our planet, our home, our lives. Plants communicate through, and work with dreams and songs. We need to go deep under our inner soil down to the mycelium.


I love books and I was looking for books about these plants. I wasn’t satisfied with the imagery in the books I found so I had the idea of slowly working towards one. I’m in the process of learning to know them and taking their portraits as I do. I travelled to Peru, Ecuador and Mexico looking for plants and knowledge about them. I finished the content of the book in the middle of 2020, but the portraying of plants is hardly done. When the pandemic put an end to the trips abroad, I picked up my old Häxans handbok by Dannie Druehyld and planted all the seeds I could find from its index of herbs. It was a gift to the 13 year old me. My studio was a greenhouse with mandrakes, henbanes and belladonnas that became the installation The Andromeda Experiment and the song The third shade of blue after sunset. All this while I kept editing and working on the final details of the book. 


In March 2020 my father died. I had my hands on his chest when he left. Time stood still for a long while. I spent months hesitating if to include a picture of him. I knew it was key, but it was a very delicate decision. That is until I tried multiple exposure as approach and the picture started vibrating and I heard him say yes from the other side. To take those pictures was a ritual, a last moment of play together. That moment became decisive for how I edited the book. From the plants, through our lives, our dead bodies, and the soil. Death is as great as birth and can be as beautiful. Summer came and I contemplated nature and landscapes on nights of midnight suns. And there I felt the book was done.  


I feel life a lot of times like multiple exposure pictures. My dad, the plants, the songs, the environment, the landscape, the awake and the dreaming at all at once. What a witch foremost needs is nature. Through all my work I oppose to everything which holds water lower than anything. Poetics are politics. Poets fight politicians. We need more time to be with our night dreams, to sing, everyday, to sing to our food and our drinks and our smokes and each other. And to look each other in the eyes and say we can all feel it. What fascinates me about long exposures and multiple exposures is the poetic chance to let time’s simultaneity leave a mark in gelatine.

Trinidad Carrillo, Kaempferia galanga, 2017


C-P: What are some of the threads currently cooking in the studio that can be credited to your recent break away from Gothenburg?


T:C: It was so nice to finally be able to go back to Peru for two months and work. It’s so easy to get things moving there. So inspiring. I meet a lot of creative people in the underground music scene who want to collaborate in projects, and I get lots of tips on where to travel to find plants or who to talk to.


I brought a special edition of 20 of Oneiromance with me. It has Jorge Villacortas’ text Afterward in Spanish on hand dyed paper in coffee and printed on risograph. I had 3 book releases in Lima. In an art & design bookstore, at a bar run by book people and in a plant shop! The venues all had different audiences. I experience Lima as a place where people are hungry for culture. You let out an idea and you will hear a ”Yes!” before you finish the sentence. I spent my time between that and performing as Pentapolar birds or getting to the taxi, to the plane, to the bus, to the motorcycle, to the little cottage on the mountains in the rain forest to photograph coffee trees and tobacco flowers, cleaning my room from giant spiders and scorpions before bed time and encountering a venomous snake when I crossed a bridge…Everywhere I went I made beautiful friends. Some of those friends taught me about ”El Renaco” and had me entering one; a hollow wandering tree surrounded by stories of goblins. Often, they have other trees growing inside them so they look like tree-cannibals. 


I also screamed into the soil for every child in Gaza. I pulled the grass, and I screamed as loud as I could in the mountains. I can not imagine my work not being influenced by what is happening now.


As for that cottage with the spiders over my bed…I had neither electricity nor internet. We would go to a cafe some days to charge our stuff and my brother kept a couple of power banks for our phones. In the nights that didn’t rain I sat outside, between mountains, overseeing trees, no stars but full of fireflies, playing songs on a guitar.

Trinidad Carrillo, Apocalyptic Horizon II, 2016


C-P: What are some less obvious influences that inform your work?


T.C:  In 2015 I saw the exhibition Olof Sager Nelson och hans samtida- Anywhere out of the world at Thielska Galleriet. I only found time to go twice. Amazing stuff. From dreams, from hypnagogias and hypnopompias. I felt so spoken to. I remember loving the portraits, loving the portrayals. They were timeless and rebellious. I could translate them into my photographs and I could see them being from now though they were painted in 1908. I wanted to eat that exhibition as you do when you want to eat a certain color; like turquoise of the sea but this was full of fumes, music and moon light.

Trinidad Carrillo, Figure and fig, 2019


C-P: With your storytelling abilities it’s not a far reach to ask; what’s your rapport with making moving imagery?


T.C: When I was in Peru and Ecuador recently, I spent a lot of time with my brother and I filmed probably the lost shots to a film project that I started before 2010. It started when I lost my grandmother and I had to deal with loss from across an ocean. I had to see her sea to say goodbye. On this trip me and my brother finally got to say goodbye to our dad as he had wished. It was an intense trip to a specific site, and we could have fallen off from a cliff. We were so close to a literal cliffhanger. 


Trinidad Carrillo, Off with their heads, 2019

C-P: I sense what used to be two parallel tracks in your life; your lens-based work and your musical and performative project Pentapolar birds, are increasingly merging closer together. Tell me!


T.C:  In Lima I had already been experimenting a lot with improvisations with other musicians. That is when you are totally in the now. Like surfing. I wrote the text Migratory birds in my book No date from 2016 using a dream technic. The following year Tuija Lindström and I had a show together at Husby Konsthall. In 2008 she filmed Magnus Johansson as he played a piano while it burned. I helped swiping up the burnt remnants. She was going to show a version of it and decided we should get a grand piano and she wanted me to play it.


I took that text, Migratory birds, and wrote an 18-minute piece about the god Moloch to whom babies were sacrificed in Mesopotamia. I was dressed as a black spider, had black liquid dripping from my mouth as I sang, and the recorded sounds of Tuijas ”burning piano” came from out of mine. So, I guess that is when the melting together really began and the music dripped into the art.


Since then I’ve done The tale of the dragon and the hummingbird and Songs from the Dream Realm that I presented at Skogen.  The birds around my head are also dragons and I’ve been trying to get close to them also in my costume and scenography. The latter I presented in collaboration with the live-visual artist Linnea Jardemark. A crown of birds I wore was made by the wonderful, gifted artist Anna Unnsgard, a colleague of mine at Konstepidemin where David Sperling Bolander also works. He taught me new ways to prepare the piano and brought bells into the soundscape. The set of songs were all inspired by dreams somehow. Songs from the Dream Realm  was played two nights to a full house. The sound was amazing since I had Fabian Roos taking care of me. The gang at Skogen is amazing.


Pentapolar Birds is something I am so thankful for. It’s a physical and mental experience of the process of life. It’s words painting pictures, happening through my body. Recently I understood that it’s not just an alter ego. That is my real self. Sometimes I can sing her songs but it’s another story when she does. When that happens, the goblins say hi before I fall asleep. She is the spider, the hummingbirds, and the dragons. She is me.


Trinidad Carrillo, Songs by butterflies, 2020

C-P: What awaits after the intense month of May, following an exhibition at Centrum för Fotografi, Konstnärshuset and the release of Oneiromance in Stockholm?


T.C: For the first part of summer, I will work on the distribution of Oneiromance. And I want to continue some recordings of Pentapolar Birds I started a year ago. During the later half I will hang out with my son and let beautiful hypnagogic things up to the surface, I hope. 



The three-person exhibition Himlakroppen with Trinidad Carrillo, joining as well Ekaterina Lukoshkova and Barbro Hedström opens at Konstnärshuset Thursday May 16, with a subsequent book release for Oneiromance at Konstnärshuset Saturday May 18.


bottom of page