In Hovedtøj, Søndergaard incorporates various historical garments from the start of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. They mostly originate from the area between Copenhagen, Roskilde and Køge, and are created by women, for women. With names such as guldnakker, kapperølliker and hedebosyninger, these are worn by local, young girls, who are also dressed in their own, contemporary clothes. It is made clear that this is not an attempt at a historical documentary, but instead a reflection based on this periodic clash: “I try to create a new fictional and impossible time, where women from different times meet, connect, and in which something arises that has never been.”
The historical textiles function as traces of a bygone era, a diffuse heritage, and Søndergaard is fascinated by these accumulated but nearly forgotten phenomena; the cultural heritage that has shaped our society, and all of us. Not least as part of women’s history, from a time prior to women’s suffrage, gender equality, and self-determination. The works focus on rendering that which cannot be found in the clothes themselves, but which is connected to a feminine world of experience. In the images, people meet across time – not as specific individuals, because these are not personal portraits: With their eyes directed away, the people who are depicted remain unidentifiable.
The quiet, sensitive and restrained are expressive qualities that permeate Trine Søndergaard’s oeuvre in general. In Arkiv and Arkivalia you can sense the outlines and textures of the textiles enveloped in the translucent wrapping tissue. The fragility is palpable. As gradients of white, the artifacts appear further delicate, seemingly not even able to withstand our direct gaze. With this maneuver, Søndergaard draws attention to where the items currently belong: in a historical
collection, specifically at Greve Museum, which has generously given the artist access to its collection. When choosing to preserve something, you assign it a certain value of meaning. And this is interesting as it implies a presumption of inaccessibility in the future, as an observation of what lies dormant in the object: “It just waits for posterity”.
In “Undisclosed”, a connection is established between the past and present – as well as with the timeless, the earth, that seems to evade interpretation. Usually out of sight, like the embroideries, the roots appear in the surface of the soil. As a striking visual contrast to the Arkiv works, these capillaries of the tree seem to poke out from the almost pitch-black ground and end up contributing to a new horizon of understanding. Through such a framing and recontextualizing, the photograph takes part in uncovering, bringing to light, and lifting the veil.
Trine Søndergaard (b. 1972 in Grenaa, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen. Over the past 20 years, she has had several solo and group exhibitions around the world. Concurrently with this show, she has a major retrospective exhibition at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen. She has received the Albert Renger Patzsch Award, among other rewards. Søndergaard is represented in numerous international museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, USA; MUSAC, Spain; Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden; National Museum, Norway; The Israel Museum, Israel; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, France, MuMa-Le Havre, France; as well as ARoS, Denmark, and the National Photo Museum, Denmark.