Hugo Ljungbäck (he/they) is a Swedish artist, curator, and scholar whose work examines the intersections of queer art, experimental film and video, media archaeology, and archival studies. His research investigates the materiality of the moving image and its processes of mediation, and his essays have appeared in Found Footage Magazine, Cinema & Cie, and Media, War & Conflict. His award-winning videos interrogate queer history, representation, identity, and sexuality through an autobiographical lens, and have screened at film festivals, art galleries, and museums internationally. He is a PhD Student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago and holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Collections and Cataloging Fellow with the South Side Home Movie Project and serves as Co-chair of the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ Small Gauge and Amateur Film Committee, Co-Secretary of Domitor, the International Society for the Study of Early Cinema, and Editor of Artifact & Apparatus: Journal of Media Archaeology.
As a gay teen, seeing images of queer people telling queer stories was an incredibly empowering and reassuring experience as I struggled to accept my own identity, and I learned early about the power of seeing yourself on screen. That’s why, for the past five years, my research and creative practice have been centered around and informed by HBTQ+ themes. Through my video work, I counter mainstream and stereotypical images of gay men and youth by regularly exploring queer subjectivities and telling underrepresented stories about intimacy, coercion, surveillance, and historical memory. I am interested in the representation of bodies on screen and how they are photographed, framed, and mediated through technologies of vision, and I routinely make myself the subject of my camera. As such, my work is often durational, gestural, and performative, and ideas of authenticity, reality, and artifice are always at stake. My practice is also strongly informed by a media-archaeological methodology. This interest manifests itself through my use of “obsolete” media technologies, archives, found footage, and a self-reflexive aesthetic that foregrounds the materiality of the moving image and its processes of mediation through compression, interference, and noise.
My work develops a broader conception of found footage filmmaking in response to the ephemerality of queer history. “Queer archiveography,” as I call it, is polysemic, plural, and promiscuous, and my videos use appropriated text, photos, sound, and video to make visible the hidden, unflattering, and often unarchivable traces of queer experience. In the face of archival absences, ephemera fill in the gaps and omissions of the archival record and become generative sites of queer history-making, foregrounding the counter-archive as a repository of traces of alternative, forgotten, and overlooked histories of queer love and intimacy. Culled from love letters, home movies, sex tapes, spam emails, selfies, memes, screenshots, mainstream media, and pornography, this ephemeral archive allows me to interrupt mainstream representation, excavate forgotten queer histories, and reimagine alternative queer-media futures.