This is one of those rare photobooks that captures a time and place so perfectly that we feel we know it even though we have never been precisely there. It’s the magic of photography to take specific moments, fleeting, in-between moments, and evoke universal memories and emotions that trigger something like half-forgotten dreams deep inside our selves.

Young boys in their early teens in the remote region of Skane, Sweden, have a ritual of gathering together in a large deserted field at night (some with their girlfriends) to drive souped up old cars at crazy speeds, in circles, kicking up dust and snow and the smell of burning rubber and oil and gasoline. It’s a coming of age, and it’s sweet and innocent. And in between the shows of bravado, they hang out, laugh, talk, fall asleep, safe and isolated in their own play world before they grow up and move on with life.

What is amazing is how the photographer Martin Bogren, a quiet thoughtful middle-aged man, befriended these young people (without becoming one of them), and then seemed to have become invisible as he captured so many intimate and cinematic moments with his film camera. There is no judgment, no celebration, just bearing witness with a sensitive artist’s eye.

The grainy black and white images, each almost perfect in itself, build quietly to tell a richly-faceted story. This book reminds me of the opening sequences of Wim Wenders’ movie “Wings of Desire”, where the angels record their testimony and wonder as they overlook the everyday experiences of mortals on earth. Another, different reference comes to mind, too, that of Peter Pan and his gang who never want to grow old.

This book is a small masterpiece. Highly recommended.

— Jim Casper

NEW: Watch this great 5-minute video interview with Martin Bogren in his Paris gallery.

Tractor Boys
by Martin Bogren, with text by Christian Caujolle
Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing
Hardcover: 60 pages