”Paris – An Orbit Portrait” from 2011 is a film portraying the city of Paris and the relationship between the Swedish and French culture. It is based on a conflation of Malin Pettersson Öberg’s black and white still images from Paris (2005-2010) with excerpts from the book ”Vad man vill veta om Paris” (”What one wants to know about Paris”) by Torgny Wickman (1953). The book was written when Paris was still an expensive and exclusive tourist destination for most Swedes and the author an unchallenged interpreter of this “capital of luxury and pleasure”. Today, this conception of Paris still prevails – both in people’s imagination and manifested in the daily life. However, much has also changed. Together, the selected quotes and images construct a new fragmented story which problematize the unity and coherence of the narration and examines the significance of the author. Established viewpoints and rights to interpretation are questioned through a blending of different perspectives and points of view. Through an “echo” of earlier depictions of Paris we become aware of the difficulties involved in portraying mythical places, and with our own exotifying gaze. The terms orbit and orbit portrait are used in physics and mathematics, to describe a curved path by which one body circles another body or two bodies circle around a central point. This gives an analogy to how the film’s two parallel stories relate to one another and to the city they describe.
The film has been produced within the framework of the Project program for professional artists at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm 2010-2011, and with support of the working grant from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Windy Fur Rundgren has made the voice interpretation and Steven Cuzner the English translation.