About the work

VIBEKE TANDBERG

ABOUT THE WORK


   VIBEKE TANDBERG
     Dad #1, 2000
C-print
142 x 108 cm
The work is part of the series Dad: six half-length portraits of the artist wearing her father's clothes, her face a mix of her own and her father's.

The interior may well be her parents' own living room and part of a nice, conservative home. Yet the portrait has a sense of staging, of theatre, partly due to the professional lighting that sets the pictures apart from normal family portraits and partly due to the depicted person's rather manic expression.

AN UNHEIMLICH FATHER
The picture's technical perfection is a contributing factor to the scene's surreal quality, despite the subject's everyday atmosphere. The slight, feminine person with the added coarse, masculine features is not only amusing, she is also unsettling, the juxtaposition challenging our accustomed notions of gender.

Dad is not the usual paterfamilias but a somewhat unstable androgynous person who appears ludicrous yet disturbing. The parent's customary dependability has turned unheimlich.

Tandberg has created a subtle and powerful self-portrait which finds her both father and daughter, man and woman, child and adult. The traditional distance between the two generations has vanished.

IDENTITY AS A ROLE TO MANIPULATE
Tandberg casts herself in a series of self-portraits that challenge the idea of identity as fixed and stable. As in Tandberg's other photographs Dad is computer manipulated and so it is not a real father we encounter in the picture but a cloning between daughter and parent.

With humour and the grotesque as her instruments she takes up the classic question of heredity versus environment; how do we resemble our parents and to what degree?

Tandberg has said of her photographs: - I believe that your personality is defined much more by environment than by heredity. Nonetheless I like the idea that there are sides to your person that you cannot change. In a way it's impossible to remove yourself utterly from your parents. That is a terrifying thought but at the same time comforting. It gives you roots and a sense of belonging but it also binds you to nature in a way that is inescapable.

Tandberg's art in general
Tandberg focuses on her own psycho-social relations to the world around her. In computer manipulated photography and film she explores issues of identity, gender, beauty and how beauty in its stereotypical form is represented in contemporary culture, as well as her own dreams and ambitions.

A number of her works can be seen as part of a feminist tradition in which she questions the usual limitations with regards to women's opportunities for self-expression as well as typical media representations.

Tandberg is always present in her own works which gives her œuvre a narcissist quality. Through her manipulated yet realistic photographs she suspends the boundaries of what is real and what might be real. With her choice of media – photography and film, traditionally characterised by their verisimilitude – she questions the relationship between the authentic and the staged.

A WOMAN WITH MANY HATS
Tandberg's works are mentioned in conjunction with conceptual art's inquiry into the relationship between word and image and postmodern art, including the issue of identity, the exploration of gender possibilities and limitations, the originality of the work of art, the artist's position to the work and the contention over photography's desire for authenticity.

Tandberg's first works were a series of saccharine wedding portraits, as seen in newspapers, in which she was photographed with ten different men that she had met in a bar the night before. Subsequently the photographs were printed in various papers.

Since then Tandberg has adopted a number of roles, living a chameleonic life as a handball referee, the first female astronaut  on the moon, a jumping father, pregnant woman, relief worker in Kenya, princess and an old man.

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