In the series Callus – Latin for ‘hard skin’ and a term for the protective scar tissue formed by trees when they are wounded – we see a number of large photographs of damaged tree roots lying exposed or in the healing process. With their organic forms and processes they can be regarded as visualizations of the strangely contrastful and continuously changing nature of existence; how life ties itself in knots, expands and contracts, twists and dislocates, opens and heals wounds. As fragments of nature the temporal and spatial anchoring of the roots is not negotiable, but in the photographs they have been detached from their original context and now stand as isolated, floating, staged objects enlarged to the scale of the body. Cautiously they open up from an unknown place and invite us to explore an at once very close and remote world – or another layer of reality.
A series of silent portraits of a young female figure balances in the same way on the borderline between the open and the closed. She only partially shows her face, just enough to make us curious, but her hands protect and screen her from the surrounding world and an exchange of gazes with the viewer is prevented. The portraits of the anonymous girl – who is not a child but not an adult either – stand as frozen fragments in an enigmatic narrative beyond time and place. In an interplay with the knotted tree roots our thoughts are directed towards the encounter between simplicity and complexity, ease and suffering of which all life is made.
In the third part of the exhibition Trine Søndergaard explores how we carry our family history with us and how heredity affects us. In a kind of family-tree hanging we find a succession of portraits of different generations of a family unknown to the viewer. All the figures have closed eyes and in their colourlessness look like busts: sculptures whose history can be traced back to antiquity. In what ways do our origins and families – with all their stories, experiences and patterns of behaviour – influence for better or for worse the human beings we become?
Trine Søndergaard (b. 1972 in Grenaa, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen. Her work is typified by a precision and sensibility that exist side by side with an investigation of photography as a medium and its limits. Internationally acknowledged for her quiet, powerful imagery and winner of among other awards the German Albert Renger-Patzsch Prize and the three-year working grant of the Danish Arts Foundation, Trine Søndergaard has exhibited solo and in group exhibitions all over the world and is represented in many international museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, USA; MUSAC, Spain; the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden; the 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 Museum of Photography, Denmark. Represented by Martin Asbæk Gallery, Copenhagen, and the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York.