John Skoog - Winner of 2014
John Skoog devotes himself to the medium of film. He produces powerful studies of people and emotions in the tradition of such Scandinavian filmmakers as Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller. In slow-paced, cinematic sequences, Skoog probes everyday places in search of the traces left behind by people and memory. In so doing, he blurs the distinction between documentary and feature film. His recent video "Reduit (Redoubt)" shows great formal subtlety as the camera circles around an old farmhouse in a barren wintry landscape in Sweden. The farmhouse belonged to a solitary farmer. Driven by the paranoiac effort to protect himself from an imagined Soviet invasion, he had spent years transforming it into a private bunker. Skoog’s film bears witness to the Cold War on the borderline between personal and collective history. A collage of voices and sounds reinforces the atmospheric impact of his imagery while the autobiographical elements of the film are embedded in a larger whole through art historical references to Kurt Schwitters‘ "Merzbau" and Facteur Cheval‘s "Palais Idéal".