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A Cabinet for Daydreams
Håkan Dahlström

Filmed in Spain, London, and Sweden with an old Bolex silent camera, this film was originally part of a longer film – that was split into a diptych, the other one being HOMMAGE Á MÉLIÈRS (not restored/available). They work as independent films.
I was lucky enough to work in several films with Chris Årfelt (1950 – 2016) a very gifted and lively woman with an intuitive understanding of film and the camera. To a large extent she handled the world of strange dolls that appear in the film, most of which were found on our strolls along the quiet beaches in Spain (this was 1970). Sometimes they had seaweed growing out of them.
We had a lot of fun making the film, it was also hard work. The restraint of having very little money paired with the high cost of 16mm film stock was a combination which made you both plan takes carefully but also take sudden leaps just for the hell of it. Being 17 at the time I had had no instruction in filmmaking (beyond the films I had seen) and doubt that I had even heard of other ways of editing than a pair of scissors and film cement. Therefore, the editing was basically done in the camera.
Our interest lay in exploring the moving image, trusting it, and hoping that the visual poetry would carry through on its own.I might not have put it this way then – it´s hard to know exactly what you were thinking 51 years later.
When making the film I got access to 2 high quality stereo tape recorders which opened up new possibilities in composing the soundtrack. At the time – there was no way of getting a stereo track onto 16mm film, so now on this restored digital version it´s the first time you can hear what the sound was supposed to sound like.
During these years, late 60s and early 70s, there were places you could see and show underground film, sometimes seedy old cinemas that held festivals and other places that would combine live performance and showing of films. Long evenings! And fun! At least in London, NY, and San Francisco I found these places and felt a part of that movement.
Looking at the film today, I see it is psychedelic camp – which it was right from the start – with a dark undertone, a composition with a poetry that I still find interesting.
Håkan Dahlström June 2021

Aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3)
Prod. format 16mm
Duration 07:38:00
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 1970
Rent this work for public screenings

About the artist

Håkan Dahlström

Håkan Dahlström, born in Sweden (1952) has dedicated himself to art since his childhood in Málaga (Spain), he spent some ten years there and studied at Picasso’s Art School. A lot of his youth he travelled extensively with his family, both his parents were artists (writer Sture Dahlström and painter Anna-Stina Ehrenfeldt).

They lived for a year in the Arizona desert, to which he years later – in 1974 – returned and filmed the 16mm film “Mirror Movement”.
His understanding of Nature and Cosmos is vital, observing plants and animals that are present in his work since his beginnings.

He started out as a filmmaker when he found his father´s camera at the age of 14 and in 1967 won the gold medal at Unescos 5th International Contest for Young Filmmakers (Paris). The following years in California, (San Fransisco) he lived and worked among other artists in the avant-garde circles and participated in the underground film movement, showing his work amongst other places at the Berkeley Film Archives. Back in Sweden he won prizes from Swedish Television in 1967, 1968 and 1969. His work has been shown in cinemathéques and art centers in Scandinavia, Paris, London as well as on television.

Today he continues filming on video, using different media and also ways to achieve interaction between film, photography and 3-dimensional work.