Trine Søndergaard Monochrome Portraits


You have to make an effort walking through Trine Søndergaard’s exhibition

Monochrome Portraits. Each photographhas its own muted, dark color that

flows across a wooden frame hand-painted in the same shade. You have to

find the right distance and angle to even see the person portrayed. Glanced

from a distance, or moving just slightly toone side, they disappear into the

image, leaving the viewer with a dark, monochrome surface. The portraits

constantly threaten to disappear. But they also constantly re-emerge in the

meeting with the viewer. These are portraits that are almost not there. And

they are almost not portraits. With Monochrome Portraits Trine Søndergaard

challenges and renews the conventions of the genre. The people in the

portraits are photographed sitting alone with their gaze lowered or their head

turned away so only their profile or the nape of their neck is visible. We are

witness to a private and quiet moment, with the model meditatively withdrawn

into their inner self. Unlike classical representative portraits, the images have

no apparent ambition to expose the soul and personality or status and life of

the individual. Instead, the series seeks to visualize a state of mind. Maybe it

is connected to melancholy, maybe a kind of resignation. It is difficult to label

precisely, since the state is elusive and withholds something that cannot be

communicated visually or verbally.The portraits may show a mental space the

individual has withdrawn into, but they also make it clear that we as outsiders

have no access to that space. With this enigmatic expression, Monochrome

Portraits breaks with dominant perceptions of the photographic portrait.

Text by Ph.D Mette Mortensen

Translation by Jane Rowley

All images © courtesy of Trine Søndergaard