The author Klas Östergren

Klas Östergren Photo: Charlie Drevstam / Polaris

Klas Östergren reads from “Större trygghet aldrig fanns”

Björn Lövin – The Surrounding Reality

3.9 2022

Stockholm

“Större trygghet aldrig fanns” (Safe as safe can be) is a new book by Klas Östergren to be published by Polaris in Sweden towards the end of September. Welcome to the museum to hear the author read passages from his new book in the exhibition “Björn Lövin – The Surrounding Reality”. These two entirely separate projects, the book and the exhibition, share an unexpected nexus in the form of the fictional insurance company ILAC and its director, John Löwenskjöld.

Klas Östergren has kept the mythical figure of John Löwenskjöld and the ILAC insurance organisation in mind ever since he first saw Björn Lövin’s exhibition “In memoriam” at Liljevalchs almost fifty years ago. Ten years later the author became personally acquainted with Lövin in Paris, when the artist exhibited his fictional worlds in a large pavilion at the Centre Pompidou. Now, after years of harbouring thoughts about writing something on the theme of Lövin’s work, the idea has finally come to fruition.

During the spring and summer “L’Image”, as the exhibition was titled in Paris, has been resurrected at Moderna Museet after an interval of more than 40 years, with the reconstruction of some of Björn Lövin’s installations, including “L’Image”. Once again the presence of John Löwenskjöld and ILAC is felt strongly in the exhibition.

The book’s first-person narrator is engrossed in a murder that was committed at a German airport decades earlier. The victim was a Swede, John Löwenskjöld, General Secretary for the International Life Assurance Company, ILAC. This out-of-the ordinary insurance organisation offers fully comprehensive cover that includes commitments to guarantee its customers a long and happy life, and the peace of mind that comes with a totally secure existence.

The narrator has grown up in a family that has taken advantage of the benefits of ILAC protection. However, in addition to seeking the answer to why Löwenskjöld was shot, the narrator also has reason to reflect on the actual feasibility of insuring oneself against every conceivable nuance of misfortune without creating new sources of anguish.

 The author Klas Östergren stands with his back to a wooden wall
Klas Östergren Photo: Charlie Drevstam / Polaris

Klas Östergren

Klas Östergren made his debut as an author in 1975 with the novel “Attila”. He has since published around 20 novels and anthologies of short stories and articles.

He has also worked with the translation of prose and drama, not least of Henrik Ibsen’s contemporary dramas – published in a two-volume edition – and as a scriptwriter for film and TV productions, including “The Marriage of Gustav III”, “Offer och gärningsmän” (“Victims and Perpetrators”) and “Soldiers by Moonlight”, the latter two directed by Tomas Alfredson.

A double bed with red bedspread, bedside lamps and small tables on both sides.
Björn Lövin, L’image, installation view, Moderna Museet, 2022 © Björn Lövin Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet
A table and two chairs in a small kitchen
Björn Lövin, L’image, installation view, Moderna Museet, 2022 © Björn Lövin Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet

Björn Lövin – The Surrounding Reality

With carefully chosen details, Björn Lövin (1937–2009) built up fictional worlds, like film sets, which the visitor could step into. In the exhibition “The Surrounding Reality”, three of Björn Lövin’s extensive environments have been reconstructed.

Read more about the exhibition here:
“Björn Lövin – The Surrounding Reality”

Björn Lövin, Consumer in Infinity and "Mr. P’s Hoard" Installation view, Moderna Museet, 1971 © Björn Lövin Photo: Erik Cornelius