Norway

Tonje Bøe Birkeland

www.tonjebirkeland.com

Biography

Tonje Bøe Birkeland (b. 1985), born in Bergen, Norway, received an MFA from Bergen Academy of Art & Design. In 2008 she started working with THE CHARACTERS, aiming to encapsulate an entire artistic practice. For the past 10 years she has, through The Characters, given women a position within the landscape while exploring the authenticity of history. While the romantic motives of the male wanderer have been well-documented, in Birkeland’s project, female explorers are staged in Unknown Territory. In front of the heroine looms grand exploration; beneath her, history is formed.

Through THE CHARACTERS Birkeland has been awarded The Victor Fellowship by the Hasselblad Foundation (2012), silver in the Norwegian book design contest Årets Vakreste Bøker (2017), and presented in her own artist book The Characters (2016), the Norwegian Journal of Photography, Fritt Ord, Oslo (2017) and Girl on Girl – Art & Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, by Charlotte Jansen, Laurence King Publishing, London (2017).

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Portfolio

The Characters

Since 2008 I have, through The Characters, given women a position within the landscape while exploring the authenticity of history. On expedition, female explorers are staged in Unknown Territory. The Characters are self-portraits expounding time and place, investigating personality and physical limits.

Materials have been gathered from their journeys, yielding stories and installations with photography in large formats portraying Character #I-V:

Character #I Aline Victoria Birkeland (1870-1952), geologist and glaciologist, travels in the high Arctic and on Spitsbergen.

Character #II Tuva Tengel (1901-1985), desert traveller, author and photographer, travels in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. She brings her camera and notebook and travels south towards the sun. She enters Unknown Territory.

Character #III Luelle Magdalon Lumière (1873-1973), stereo photographer – a traveller among islands, societies and continents. Luelle journeyed to New York, the Orkney Islands, and to the mountains of western Norway.

Character #IV Anna Aurora Astrup (1871-1968) sails along the East Coast of Greenland in 1900.

Character #V Bertha Bolette Boyd (1900-1985), mountaineer and author, travels to Bhutan in the 1930’s. She climbs to monasteries, and further to mountain passes at 4900 m above sea level. Bhutan is the country where colonialism completely failed; therein lies the foundation for other stories. Bertha travelled solely to see and experience.