In Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain from 1924 the young Hans Castorp travels to a luxurious sanatorium to visit his sick cousin. He is supposed to stay for three weeks, before starting his career as an engineer. But when the head doctor at the sanatorium discovers a wet spot on Hans Castorp’s lung, he has to stay. He stays for seven years. The sanatorium life becomes an escape from expectations and responsibilites, where Hans Castorp is feeling free.

It’s 2020 and a new pandemic is paralyzing the world. I have just returned to Sweden after a few years in the US, and I’m supposed to start my career as an artist. But everything is at pause. There is no work, no exhibitions, nothing. There’s nothing else to do than to wait. So I rest. I take walks. I eat on a regular schedule. My daily routine becomes very much like Hans Castorp’s at the sanatorium. I start collecting postcards. There seems to be an endless amount of them, postcards from all the sanatoriums that once existed in Sweden. First I collect them because I want the photographs of the buildings. But I soon discover that many of the postcards are also written. Voices from another time are starting to make themselves heard. The sanatorium lifestyle is coming closer. There are rest cures on the balconies, fever measurements and walks in the forest. I feel some kind of affinity. I want to be there.
Spellbound / Trollbunden, 2021.
Video, 10 min.