“No Two Alike” explores the infinite variety of nature, where no two elements fully resemble each other. This is captured through the medium of photography within one-hundred oyster shells. As a whole, the 100 photographs create a visual archive of what were once living organisms. Shells symbolise immortality, eternal life. A memory of a warm summer day by the beach.
How to gather 100 oyster shells?
Scene 1: Contacting restaurants
…Few phone calls later and I am on my way to get the oyster shells from a small restaurant in Östermalm. I am instructed to come by before the official opening hours. Waiting in the cold in front of a closed door which finally opens and I’m handed a bag of shells. Back at my studio I put on gloves and start gently cleaning them. The interior of the shells, once cleaned, reveals beautiful iridescent shades. The inside of the shells is soft, and delicate. The outer shell feels rigid and sharp, protective. They smell like the sea. A strong and salty scent. I am thinking of where did they came from. Born, grown and gathered by fisherman. Served, eaten, discarded. Who are the people who gathered them, served them, consumed them? By eating the oysters people unknown to me have provided me with my material. They are all unaware participants of a collective artwork.
Scene 2: The Fish market
Located in a remote industrial area it looks pretty grand and stocked on Google maps. The reality does not match the expectations when I arrive there-a small space with several shelves of fruits, and vegetables, and finally, a small section of fresh fish. No oysters. The smell of the fruits is mixed with the smell of the fish and the collective smell is so strong that it is almost palpable. A smell so dominant that it probably lingers there long after the last fig is sold. This smell brings me back to a childhood memory of a small fruit and vegetables shop where my mom used to shop.
Scene 3: The second Fish market
A big food market with all sorts of food shops, restaurants, delis. Two floors of flavours, colours and smells. I wonder if the people working here have become so accustomed to the sensory overload that they don’t notice the smells anymore. It takes me five minutes to scan the place for what I am looking for-two fish shops and a fish restaurant. I approach them with my art project request for empty shells and they all promise to keep some oyster shells for me and tell me to come back again on Thursday. I do. And nothing. Two of the places say no customer ordered any oysters during the last couple of days. The third place says they had many oyster shells but that they forgot about my request and threw them away.
I write my name and phone number on a post-it note together with “Oysters for art”. I hand it to the man behind the counter. The Saturday before Easter he texts me: “You can come”. A bag of oyster shells is already waiting for me. My new-friend, Tim, seems stressed and busy-the place is packed with customers enjoying their free Easter weekend. He’s carrying a big tray back to the counter when he spots me. This time I don’t have to explain myself. Without me saying a word, Tim hands me a bag of shells and rushes back to his tasks. After that I visit his colleague from the Fish restaurant next door. Again, they know what I came for and I receive my bag of shells without much explanation.
The final batch of oysters shells comes from my friends from Woodstockholm. Finally, I have a 100 oyster shells. No two alike.