The Swedish artist Kristina Bength reactivates and translates past events into paintings and drawings. She reveals the possibility of distorting history and memory and replaying the present.
Since 2008, Bength has worked on the story of Amanda Kristina Pedersen by bringing the game of fraud and imposture into play in several ways. She departs from photographic archive material that comes from Pedersen, a photographer, actress and impostress who in 1904 was convicted of fraud and forgery in Falun, Kristina Bength’s hometown. Bength creates a sort of fictitious reproduction of the life of Pedersen, fashioned by places and milieus that Pedersen has visited and with a focus on how gender is constructed, from a juridical perspective. Her questioning of the value of the archives, memory and history is expressed with large installations of black and white watercolour paintings on paper with a skilful, almost trompe l’oeil-like craftsmanship. The installations resemble both a slide show and theatre stage, blurring the line between fiction and reality.
Within Cuts and Bends, her most recent series, is a slide of watercolour paintings that resembles an immovable silent film telling a story in fragments at the point where photographic realism meets the flowing motion of the aquarelle. The paintings depict spaces devoid of human presence, and they both invite and exclude the spectator from entering these spaces. Mute surfaces that keep the gaze out are alternated with surfaces that move freely and provoke forms that heavily contrast with photography. In other words, the aquarelle paintings give dominant significance to how the water’s fluid, transformative quality conquers and challenges the static time of photography.
In terms of material and technique as well as content, water plays an important part in Within Cuts and Bends. Being both a means of the painting process and a motif alluded upon, Water signifies the attempt to trace histories/stories and give new form to them by changing them. In this sense water becomes a metaphor of recollection and oblivion, referring back to the overall question of what it means to remember and forget, but also to what it means to use archive material and restage it in new stories. The difficulties and pitfalls of returning to the past and re-write history is the main theme of Kristina Bength’s art. The events as such cannot return, but they can recur in other forms if painting succeeds to put the storytelling potential of the archive into use.
Kristina Bength was born in 1984 in Falun (Sweden) where she also works and live. Within Cuts and Bends will be first shown in France at the salon du dessin contemporain (25-28 March, Paris Carrousel du Louvre) and then as a whole at L MD galerie (4 June-26 July, Paris).
Swedish artist born in 1984 in Falun, Sweden.
- Falun, Sweden