Strike a pose – with the object and the body as her material Sophia Kalkau explores themes like staging, identity and transformation.
With great precision Sophia Kalkau directs our gaze at the body and the object in her art. As a result of her manipulation of the form and the material the works are neither wholly abstract nor easily recognizable. It is our gaze and our imagination that frame the narratives in the works.
In the work Top Suite we see the artist posing in a white cloth, photographed from the front and back in turn. Over her head she holds a triangular shape that hides her face like a large hat, thus participating in a game of visibility and invisibility. At the same time the triangular shape turns the artist’s body into an anonymous sculpture like one of the statues of goddesses in antiquity. The contrasts between the living body, the frozen action and the unidentifiable object underscore the mystique of the work.
Sophia Kalkau also uses her own body in the photo series Out of my Hair, which over 27 days and in 27 images registers the artist’s hair loss as a result of cancer treatment. Kalkau has photographed herself seated with her back to us and erect with a high-piled hairdo which gradually thins out, in the course of the photo series, to scattered tufts that are gradually concentrated into the now sparse knot of hair. But the work is more than just a series of photographs. Kalkau uses her body performatively in her staging and in the repeated photographing. Her action is captured in the photographs, and as time passes, the autobiographical portrait courageously and honestly tells the story of the visible change in Kalkau’s life situation and appearance during the course of the illness. The work opens the mind to thoughts about identity, including the question of what your hair means for your own self-understanding.
Sophia Kalkau’s sculptures and photographs are fascinatingly perfect and simple. Their meticulously pure form underscores the timeless exterior of the work, which evokes associations of classical sculpture. At the same time the works and their subjects have a direct sensory appeal which makes us want to investigate what we see with our hands.
The works are about womanhood and frailty, luxuriance and vanity. They play on the relationships between weight and lightness, between volume and surface, and between balance and motion, as can clearly be seen in the sculpture Another Way of Watching. Some people immediately see the organic sculpture as a vase, others as an enlarged handle, or a woman’s slim waist and voluminous forms. However, the title points literally in another direction and reminds us that a skewed perspective can create new understandings.
About Sophia Kalkau
In her generation Sophia Kalkau is a particularly important artist and an exponent of the new development of sculpture in Danish art. She is a trained sculptor, but she works with both photography and sculpture. Through these media Kalkau explores the relationships between body and sculpture, presence and absence, visibility and invisibility with seriousness, humour and rigour.
B. 1960 in Copenhagen, where she lives and works.
Trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1986-1996 at the School of Sculpture and later at the School of Art Theory.
She has earlier studied Art History at University of Copenhagen and published poetry and texts on poetics.
In 2015 she was awarded the lifetime honorary grant of the Danish Arts Foundation.
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