Tonje Bøe Birkeland (b. 1985) lives and works in Bergen, Norway. Birkeland received her MFA and BA in Photography from the Bergen National Academy of the Arts. Her main body of work is THE CHARACTERS. The objective THE CHARACTERS is to encapsulate an entire artistic practice. Since 2008 Birkeland has, through The Characters, given women a position within landscape while exploring the authenticity of history. On expeditions, female explorers are staged in Unknown Territory. Materials have been gathered from before, during and after their journeys, yielding stories and installations, with photography in large formats portraying Characters # I – V.
Tonje Bøe constructs characters through photography, text and objects. Her female figures balance on the border between fiction and reality, founded in the historical past and simultaneously extended self-portraits.
The dramatic landscapes in which she places her figures work as a stage. It is entered with a set of roles acted through the making of photographs: character, creator, camera and their common act of travel. In many ways Tonje's work is therefore theatrical in process as much as in visuals. Through the methods of photography with geographical and temporal distance, our contemporary society is put in perspective. The photographs show gaps and parallels in the friction between past and present, one society and another, a human being and a character from the past.
Each project leads toward the objective of a gallery of personas of female heroines from the past, who through narrative, fantasy and photography can fill a void in our history and reveal contemporary society’s challenges: globalized colonization on the one hand and the loss of great adventure on the other.
Her aesthetic blends theatrical scenery with a kitsch and tidy composition. Using often quite pastel tones to create images with a sense on wanderlust, explorations of both the landscapes and the characters within them.
Take a look at this film exploring Tonje's best known series The Characters.
THE CHARACTERS has been awarded the Victor Fellowship by Hasselblad Foundation (2012), Årets Vakreste Bøker (2017) and presented in Birkeland’s artist book The Characters (2016), Norwegian Journal of Photography, Fritt Ord, Oslo (2017) and in Girl on Girl – Art & Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, by Charlotte Jansen, Laurence King Publishing, London (2017).
Tickets will be available for purchase this coming Thursday. Don't miss your chance to purchase work by one of the world's most prolific photographers. The photographs will be on display at theprintspace, Shoreditch from 12th – 24th October, with a Private View taking place at 7:30pm on 12th October.