Barn som leker i Hammarkullens miljonprogram.
Photo: Jens S. Jensen.

15 February 2017 – 13 August 2017 

Children of their time

From Hallwyl House to Hammarkullen’s “Million Programme” public housing scheme

Separated by both time and space. In the Children of their Time exhibition, studio portraits of the von Hallwyl children were shown together with photographs of young children and adolescents from Hammarkullen. What might they be able to tell us about the present and the past?

For four decades, beginning in 1973, the photographer and author Jens S. Jensen (1946–2015) documented life in the Gothenburg suburb of Hammarkullen. He got to know the people who lived there and via his pictures and interviews, and we get close to the young people who grew up in one of the Million Programme’s concrete suburbs. When his work first began, Jens S. Jensen was a newly graduated architect and an important motivation was to make the social structures of society and how the large-scale solutions affected people’s everyday lives and dreams visible and top critically examine them. He also wanted to look beyond the media image of the “suburban man” and give a more nuanced portrayal of both the place and those who lived there.

Detaljbild från utställningen visar kontrasten mellan äldre oljemålningar och ett motiv från Hammarkullens höghus
From the exhibition. Photo to the right by Jens S Jensen. Photo: Jens Mohr, the Hallwyl Museum/SHM (CC BY).

In the Children of their Time exhibition at the Hallwyl Museum, we got to meet both the young people from Hammarkullen and the von Hallwyl children: Ebba, Ellen and Irma. It was almost a century between the pictures and they showed two very, very different worlds. One where family wealth was created in the flourishing industrialism of the 19th century. The other portrayed children of workers in the structural changes of the 1970s: a world where young people were left to fend for themselves at an early age and where the after-school centre was not only a gathering place for social activities, but also a world where recreational drugs were part of everyday life.

The Children of Their Time [Barn av sin tid] exhibition provided insights into the lives of young children and adolescents in two historical events and social contexts. The contrast also helped to clarify the changing view of adulthood and the demands children face in the family and in the society.

Bild av barn från Hammarkullen tillsammans med studioporträtt av barnen von Hallwylska
Photo: Jens Mohr, the Hallwyl Museum/SHM (CC BY).

From a photo-historical perspective, the exhibition showed the difference between 19th-century directed studio portraits and the social documentary photography that characterised Swedish photography in the 1970s: a movement in which Jens S. Jensen’s works are among the most important.

The exhibition was curated by Niclas Östlind, fil. dr in photography at the University of Gothenburg’s Valand Academy and Joakim Geiger. The exhibition was presented in the museum’s guest room floor.