Last night in Sweden

LiU student Fredrik Löfgren and the football-playing robots he has developed are featured in this year's most talked-about photography project – a book and an exhibition entitled "Last night in Sweden".

Around a hundred of Sweden’s best documentary photographers depict what happens during the Swedish evenings. The images show us a Sweden far removed from that shown on newspaper front pages. Here, everyday life is in the spotlight. Factory workers taking the evening shift, a dance cruise across the Baltic Sea, an apartment for sale in Stockholm, a mother giving birth at a maternity ward, accommodation for asylum-seekers in Fagersta, Sweden’s most isolated village, and the high life of Sweden’s jet set at Stureplan.

And in the middle of all this we see the football-playing robots and their “trainer” working in a laboratory at Linköping University, on a Monday evening in the spring. “The most amazing part of working with robots is bringing them to life. The process of teaching them things, and seeing them learn from each other by watching,” Fredrik Löfgren is quoted as saying in the book.

The project can be regarded as a response to a speech given by President Donald Trump in February, when he warned against letting people in from other parts of the world. “Look what happened last night in Sweden,” he said after seeing a documentary on the American TV channel Fox News, and interpreting it as showing Sweden as the target of a terror attack. The project acquired further wind in its sails after an actual terror attack took place in Stockholm in April – an attack on the free and open society that has characterised Sweden for so long.

“Everyone involved believes that it is important to give a more accurate image of Sweden, without idealising the country or downplaying the difficulties and problems we are facing. One of the objectives of the project is to counterbalance the forces that are attempting to divide people and create fear and conflict,” says publisher Jeppe Wikström, one of the initiative-takers of the project.

The book was released on 14 September, the same day on which an exhibition opened at Fotografiska in Stockholm. The first copies of the book from the press were sent to President Trump, all members of the US Congress, and all members of the European Parliament.

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