At Eye Level
The artist Mette Tronvoll (b. 1965 in Trondheim) follows the people, who sit for her portraits, into their own habitat that is at the same time their professional space: Japanese women collecting kelp on a rocky shore, nomads in the wide steppe of Mongolia, young and old in the hot springs of Greenland or elite soldiers of a secret unit in the depths of Southern Norway. Each to their own, they form an allegiance in Tronvoll‘s photographs, an allegiance that includes their nourishing as well as threatening environment.
Since the end of the 1990s Tronvoll has worked in the open air, seeking out people on the edge of civilisation where they work and live in isolation. Entering into a personal relationship with them, the artists evidently wins their trust. They seem to stop and listen for something alien to them that does not frighten them but seems to arouse their curiosity and to cheer them. Since the end of the 1990s Tronvoll has worked in the open air, seeking out people on the edge of civilisation where they work and live in isolation. Entering into a personal relationship with them, the artists evidently wins their trust. They seem to stop and listen for something alien to them that does not frighten them but seems to arouse their curiosity and to cheer them. In our globalised world, Tronvoll works out the individual and the authentic along the edges of a perception that is situated below the radar of our commercialised present. Tronvoll captures lives along these edges. These lives are examples of an existence that does not speculate on media impact and representation but relies on primal instincts and trust.
Even in the 1990s, while still in New York, Tronvoll was making portraits indoors which give us persons of all ages before a neutral background. In everyday clothes and lacking the shelter of their own ambience, they open themselves up to the gaze of the camera as though it was accomplice and confidante, all at once. The photographer‘s gaze seems equally close, almost intimate, when she approaches the deserted glaciers of Greenland. In the leeward of civilisation, yet not completely detached, they, like all things transient, are subject to the processes of change.
Whatever is off-key, unspoken and ageing forms the subject Mette Tronvoll has been addressing for more than 15 years. Her practice is based on a great respect for her sitters and brings out traces of pure joie de vivre which shine forth in the moment of isolation and distance to modern event culture. Mette Tronvoll‘s images are faithful to the tradition of full figure portraits employed by her compatriot Edvard Munch by the end of the 19th century and revived in photography after world war I by August Sander with documentary meticulousness. Tronvoll‘s strength lies in her emphatic gaze, exchanging objectivity for humanity and creating the tranquility of a still life.
At Haus am Waldsee, Mette Tronvoll will take the visitors of her summer exhibition „at eye-level“ on a journey to Japan, Mongolia and Greenland and familiarise them with their own perception as well as everyday moments of happiness on the edge of the world.
Norwegian Embassy, Bezirksamt Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Berlin, Freunde und Förderer des Hauses am Waldsee e.V.
ATRIUM Malereibetrieb GmbH, Farrow & Ball, Gebr. Tonsor