The late Larry Moyer graces the cover of Floating in Sausalito | post by Jenny Stein | photos by Lars Strandberg
In 2013, two Swedes—journalist Lars Åberg and photographer Lars Strandberg—spent time in Sausalito collecting their impressions of our floating home community. The result, Floating in Sausalito, written in English and released earlier this year by the German publisher Kerber Verlag, is now available in the US.
Short-listed in the book category for the Swedish Design Prize, the winners will be announced October 20 during a special ceremony at Sweden’s Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm. (Their book, West, won the Swedish Design Prize in 2012.)
Floating in Sausalito documents a specific moment in our floating community—told from a personal perspective—while remaining anchored by the inclusion of our local and common history. This beautifully printed 240-page book is dense with observations, encounters and photos.
We asked Lars Åberg for his reflections on the experience, along with a few images. We couldn’t have received a better introduction to their work. This is the story of how Floating in Sausalito came into being.
The other Lars—Strandberg, the photographer—and I have traveled extensively through the American West, and in 2011 we had our book West published in the United States. West received lots of fine reviews, which inspired us to look for new topics to explore. During one of our trips to California we had, almost by coincidence, stumbled upon a café in Sausalito and learned about the houseboat community. As we wandered around in this neighborhood, seeing all the colorful creations and briefly encountering some of the residents, we instinctively knew that this was a place we would like to return to.
One important factor was our mutual interest in the music scene of the 1960s. Starting in the late 60s, I wrote about rock music for one of the major Swedish newspapers and heard a great number of the Bay Area bands from that period on tour in Scandinavia. My interest in contemporary American culture—literature, film, music, et cetera—has developed over time and it seemed to us that Sausalito would provide a great focus for a story about a generation with high ideals and a desire to change the conformist, consumerist society.
So, in 2013 we returned to gather material for our new book project, photographing the exterior and the interior of the partly gentrified floating homes community and interviewing both veterans and newcomers.
We became totally fascinated with the playful designs and the stories of the long-time residents. This was a modern cultural history that we could relate to, and I believe there are lots of people out there, in other countries, too, who will find elements of their own lives mirrored in this tale about the Sausalito houseboats.
We are truly happy to have been able to sit down and talk with some of the old-timers who are no longer with us, like Larry Moyer who showed us the true spirit of Sausalito hospitality and shared his life story with us. On the docks, we met a genuine kindness and generosity that we took to heart. We have felt that we owe all these people—who were so helpful to us—a document, a book, that is sincere and at least tries to find the essence of community life on the Bay.
We had great fun making Floating in Sausalito and we hope that you will enjoy reading it and searching out the details of the many photos. It is, for us, a story both about a distant gathering of tribes and a way of making sense of our own youth on another continent.
Lars Åberg – Siargatan 11 – 118 27 – Stockholm, Sweden +46 705 24 45 45
Lars Strandberg – Lönngatan 56 – A 214 49 – Malmö, Sweden +46 705 76 65 47
CLICK HERE to read John McMurtrie’s piece in the October 19, 2016 SF Chronicle