Photography is also the starting point in Kristina Bengths complex installation at galleri Flach+Thulin. Large-scale watercolours hang free in the air, as sheets on a clothesline. To walk between them is like entering the depicted settings. But the installation also alludes an oversized slideshow display.
The originals for these black and white sets are photos by Amanda Kristina Pedersen taken in the turn of the century 1900. As a photographer and actress Pedersen played with her identities and appeared both as woman and man. 1904, in her mid-twenties, she was convicted of fraud and forgery in Falu district court.
A reading of the verdict is played in the inner room of the gallery, a room transformed into a theatre by a watercolour-backcloth and chairs standing in rows. The installation is diverse in many respects. Bength brings forth a fascinating archive material and, with an instinctive feeling breathe life into an old story with a constant interest. Did the poor Pedersen get convicted because of her embezzled small change or her provocative change of gender identity?
She is never in the picture, but it is with her eyes that we see empty stairways, demolished premises and locked cells. The claustrophobic notion of being trapped in a room, as well as in your own body is striking. The watercolours are made with greyscales just like old photographs.
The yellowish glow in the paper sometimes gives the illusion of tones of sepia in the pictures. The light is lifted from the surface. In the water and pigment the old photos preciseness and atmospheres are being born. The technical conditions required are different, but to paint in watercolour and to develop photographs do have a lot in common.
In both cases liquids are required and as much patience waiting for the right moment as spontaneity to catch a hastily fleeing opportunity.
Max Book works on his own digital photos with thick coated, viscous oil paint and corrosive acid. Kristina Bength interprets existing archive material in transparent, flowing watercolours. Their artistic tempers differ but the meeting between photography and painting arranged by them, both result in complex works that stretch the limit of the media.
text by Joanna Persman
published in Svenska Dagbladet
translation by Sara Walker