A Room Inside

23.10 - 05.12.15

“Everyone carries a room inside,” Franz Kafka writes in his diary. This room is a mental space, a private space that contains what cannot be shared, can hardly be thought, articulated, shown or uttered word for word. It is this space that the title of Trine Søndergaard’s solo exhibition, A Room Inside, revolves around.

A Room Inside follows several photographic and thematic paths that intersect and engage in dialogue with one another. Faces disappear in blank reflections: together, ground surfaces, people veiled in antique lace and photographic objects visualize a field between invisibility and visibility and explore thoughts about the phases of life, identity and self image.

“She wears her heart on her sleeve,” is something we say about a person who is particularly sensitive or whose emotions are particularly readable. For the most part we keep them up our sleeves, these emotions. In Trine Søndergaard’s photographs, however, the emotions are given a kind of visibility in the form of black mourning veils that cover winter-­‐pale faces. A membrane between the woman and the world, which both shows and veils, both reveals and screens off. The veils are in French mourning lace from the 1700s and 1800s. Back then the veils were a great luxury. They were expensive, because they required great craftsmanship and hours of meticulous handwork. In Søndergaard’s photographs the lace is worn by young women from Tønder. As in the artist’s other photo projects such as Strude, Interiors and Guldnakke, Søndergaard confronts present and past in one and the same picture. Most of all, though, they seem beyond time. The veiled women keep their eyes closed, which makes them seem more dead than alive – or at least sleeping, absent, in their own world.

Several pictures show a young woman holding a mirror up to her face. The mirror is angled towards the camera precisely so that its surface, instead of reflecting the world, becomes a dead zone, a gap in representation that shows without showing.

A Room Inside and the title’s assertion of private space are typical of Søndergaard’s practice, which with precision and bated breath seems to revolve around what exists but cannot be seen. It is as if her visual world is latent with what we do not see. The pictures set themselves up as disappearances, rejections, obstacles to the gaze; as abysses or possibilities, but most of all as image formations that operate sophisticatedly, discreetly – underplayed and searching – in the field between visibility and invisibility, between the space outside and the space inside.

Trine Søndergaard (b. 1972) is a Danish-­‐born photography-­‐based visual artist. In 2000 she won the prestigious German Albert Renger Patzsch Prize. Later she has garnered many other awards for her work, including the three-­‐year working grant of the Danish Arts Foundation. Trine Søndergaard has exhibited in most of the world, and she is represented in a wide range of international public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, MUSAC, Gothenburg Museum of Art, The National Museum of Norway, The Israel Museum, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, France, and AROS, Aarhus. Trine Søndergaard is a member of the Artists’ Society and the artists’ association Grønningen. Trine Søndergaard has published a number of books, most recently STASIS from the German publishers Hatje Cantz.

By Camilla Jalving, curator, Arken Museum of Modern Art