Ru En

På ett hår

På ett hår
Dates: September 18 — October 23, 2015
Venue: Gallery 21

How do you create the picture of a whole life? A woman’s life, with all its events, its happiness and sorrows? The artist Natasha Dahnberg uses the plait as a metaphor of woman’s story. In Russia, girls still plait their hair, particularly when they are teenagers.

Natasha Dahnberg, a Russian artist living and working in Sweden, chooses the golden plait as her concept in one of her latest projects. Every important event, from the beginning to the end of a life, is given a place in the plait. „På ett hår” is the title of the work, a photographic series of several parts. It is this symbolic language that is quite indicative for the artist’s richness of fantasy and her eminent capacity to find valid metaphors for her stories. Even though plaits are not very common in Sweden, the metaphor is still valid as a significant and understandable semantic code by which the artist leaves a message to a viewer.

The artist was born and educated in Moscow and has lived in Uppsala, Sweden, since 2000. Maybe she should not be called a Russian artist, living in Sweden? But rather a Swedish artist, influenced by both the Russian and Swedish cultures. Her double identities give her a unique position as an artist. Not just due to her Russian education but also because of her extensive knowledge of and an impressive sensibility to the Russian cultural heritage.

In her video film „Maria & Elisabet”, Natasha Dahnberg addresses a classical scriptural theme in art history – exploration the emotional state of the person as a way to self-discovery. Dahnberg films the meeting between the young Maria and the much older Elisabet, both pregnant. Through the centuries, many artists have used this theme. In modern times the American pioneer of video-art artist Bill Viola is one of the most well known. In Violas film the event is seen with wonder through a male perspective. Natasha Dahnberg, being a female, has a quite different approach. Dahnbergs film focuses on the women’s thoughts and feelings concerning their unexpected pregnancies. Showing this total respect for the women’s strong reactions, Dahnberg could be described as a feminist artist.

Natasha Dahnberg is a typical contemporary artist, reacting to current events and how they impact on her own life. Her work „Random” was created during the world political turbulence in the autumn of 2014. As a metaphor she used her own red scarf when describing terror, violence and death around the world. Thrown at the ground, the scarf functions as a picture of all blood being seen in the media during that summer. The scarf could be interpreted as a blood spot from an act of violence. The fact that it was the artists own scarf made the effect even stronger.

The violence is not the winner. Red flowers are growing from the bloody ground as Natasha Dahnberg allows red poppies to take over the event. Life overcomes!

Flowers are a touching leitmotif in Natasha Dahnberg’s art practice. In the work „Black Flower” the artist makes an explicit political statement concerning the situation in Ukraine by using flowers metaphorically. Yellow sunflowers are the targets being bombarded. As a powerful protest against violence and death the beautiful but destroyed sunflowers make an impressive and powerful statement in this artwork.

In her art Natasha Dahnberg combines the traditional and the new, both metaphorically and aesthetically. Her ability to find relevant metaphors is unique. Her art goes beyond the limits of gender, place, time and ethnicity.

Cristina Karlstam

Art critic