Arts and Gardens

Familiar Sights, in Unfamiliar Combinations

A book with a blue cover is lying open over a female butt in maxi briefs. We see the woman’s body from the knees up to the waist, a section; she could be anyone. The woman lies on her stomach on a white surface, which is out of focus. The background, a turquoise wall, is even more diffuse.

© Margareta Bergman: Boken, 2003
© Margareta Bergman: Boken, 2003
Margareta Bergman

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The photograph seems everyday when you pass it in the corridor, there’s nothing here you have not seen before. But the composition of the elements in the picture is still strange. Why has Bergman placed the book there?

The picture Boken (The book) is part of the series Slumpens ordning (The arrangement of the random), where things were placed in locations they were not considered as belonging to. The book plays a significant role here, it is in the sharpest line of focus, and has the deepest color in the picture. Its placement on top of a butt seems both surreal and witty. It resembles a sight one might have seen on the beach, a person slumbering with a book lying open across her face. We can imagine that the bum was reading the book, and now is taking a rest. Or that the book has been flying like a bird or maybe an insect, and has landed for a moment at a suitable hilltop in the terrain to gather its strength, before it spreads its covers and flies on.

Swedish Margareta Bergman (1955-) is a photographer with an eye for detail. The series Landscapes from 2009 showed excerpts from nature, a half-eaten pancake, for instance, and a puddle that reflects the sky, with an insect hovering over the water. In Elbows from 1997, people were photographed in various situations, with their elbows in focus. Characteristic of Bergman is the ability to see what is interesting in parts that do not usually get to assume a prominent place, and present them in a way that is mysterious and ambiguous. Bergman has made artworks on commission for Halden Prison and Ammerud Primary School, and her pictures have been bought by Arts Council Norway and The National Museum of Norway.