Please introduce yourself and what you do.
My name is Trine Søndergaard: I am a visual artist and work primarily with photography. My work revolves around human life, existence, gender, and our experience of reality. I live in a communal garden association on Amager with my husband Nicolai and our 3 children - and our 2 cats. I have a workshop at the Factory of Art & Design, and I am represented by Martin Asbæk Gallery.
How has the art scene coped with the gender imbalance since you began your career? How could it improve?
There is a long way to go for equality in the art world. It is gratifying to see that i.e. the art institutions have begun to place a greater focus on the imbalance that previously existed in the museums' exhibition practices and in particular their procurement of art by male and female artists. There has been a lot more focus on that recently, which has helped shift the imbalance, that we still see.
Women's ability to make a living from our art is however still significantly lower than that of our male colleagues; Women are unequally represented in the private art market in particular; at the galleries. They are simply shown and presented to lesser extent, which means that women's artwork get too little attention and fewer purchases.
Being an artist is a vulnerable/fragile profession for all artists, regardless of gender. Starting out on your own is rough enough, and periods with childbirth and the years when our children are young work to strengthen the gender issue. This needs to change, and as an art consumer, you can also do something, like seeing exhibitions by female artists and asking for and buying their works.
Overall, talking about these issues and blind spots, can help push for a positive change.
© Trine Søndergaard, Hovedtøj #27, Hovedtøj 26 og Hovedtøj 23, 2020, courtesy the artist & Martin Asbæk Gallery
What advice would you give to emerging female artists entering the art scene.
One advice from me is to keep your focus on your project/art and to simply create art - and focus on how to get it out of the workshop and into the world. Be persistent, be brave and ally yourself with colleagues and friends that you can spar with both around your artistic path and content, dreams, ambitions, and values.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
I pursue certain themes of existence in my art; what it means to be a human being and the historical - both the official history, smaller aspects of history and my own story. One perspective in my art is women's life. Right from the start, I have never pretended to be a man and have always insisted, that I can make art from a female perspective.
I also work with forgotten and unnoticed stories and objects from the official
history of the world. In that, things related to women's lives have been given less ‘spotlight’. I use i.e. historical objects, such as historical garments, as specific entry points to go into history and dig into what has disappeared or been forgotten, with the purpose of bringing it back to light again.
What is your position on feminism and the fight for women’s rights and equality in the art world?
I am a feminist and am in favor of quotas and everything. I am in for equal opportunities for all. Changing thousands of years of cultural tradition and inequality takes time and it is not something you just fix from one day to another - but we are on our way.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
It must be to find a balance between family and work life. To have two big and important projects in life and to be able to make room for both can be very challenging.
Some of the biggest challenges are structural, i.e., an artist is by definition self-employed and independent, maternity leave etc. It is also a challenge to find time for everything, but it is the same challenge many women face in many other industries. Eventually, it is a question of priorities and to find a balance for, when I feel I have done well enough, both at work and in my private life.
I have at one point decided not to work evenings and weekends and to prioritize my family at the same level as my career. Being an artist is often associated with a very limitless working life, but it has been important for me to set some boundaries for it so that my family life has been able to function, and I have been able to have the family life that I also want.
Explain your process
My process for my upcoming exhibition Nearly Now at Gl. Holtegaard has been to work very site-specific with the exhibition and the exhibition venue. Both thematically and concretely. Time and aging are the main themes in the exhibition. I have, for example, in the autumn of 2019 collected apples in the garden belonging to Gl. Holtegaard, where a rare and very old apple variety grows. I have subsequently photographed their decay process for an entire year. The works become a visualization of the time that passes. I have worked with both portraits, spaces, historical garments, and in the exhibition the themes branch out through different series of works and combine works and the exhibition space together in a unified expression.
What impact has Covid 19 had on your work?
COVID-19 has had a big impact on my exhibitions through 2020, as it is and has been hard to work on the realization of several exhibitions because it has all been so unknown. I had a huge retrospective solo exhibition at the Gothenburg Art Museum in the spring, which was affected by the closure and the authorities' travel restrictions to Sweden, and where the planned activities in connection with the exhibition could not be carried out. The same exhibition will be shown at Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg, but here the planned opening is still postponed indefinitely. Like the exhibition at Gl. Holtegaard - Now I just hope the world opens up again soon!
Each Monday MUNTHE brings you an interview with a female artist. Follow along at MUNTHE ART MONDAY.