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Katja Bjørn


Cave Woman 2012

Single-channel video, 4:24 min, with sound
Sound by Nicolas Vetterli 

The ‘Cave Woman’ is known as the busty, dinosaur-battling superwoman in Budd Root’s alternative comic series of that name. It is also a somewhat antiquated female archetype, implying savage and unmotivated rage, rampant unpredictability and sexual fury. It is a figure of emotional excess, applied to no identifiable ideology and not directed towards a meaningful end: In other words, a binary opposite of the equally antiquated figure of the civilized gentleman.

In the video installation piece, Cave Woman, Katja Bjørn elaborates and negotiates the figure of the archaically furious woman, and how it relates to our understanding of nature. A naked female body emerges from the still ocean off a small pebble beach, looks around, and then starts screaming and throwing rocks in a profoundly savage and elementally infuriated fashion. Her face contorts with anguished fury and her whole body trembles with rage as she pours out every ounce of available energy unto this otherwise tranquil and appealing landscape before she returns, exhausted, into the still water. The scene is reminiscent of Kubrick’s famous bone-wielding apes from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and draws upon the same emancipatory theme of a violent struggle for survival and domination. There is, however, no splendor or any real power to this outburst, nor any real beauty. Instead, this woman’s rage appears as a kind of fluke, almost, at first glance, as a freak of nature. The emotional excess is contrasted with the shrill and distorted sound of her screaming, making the scene almost comical.

The woman emerges from a calm water surface, enters a space of tranquility and disrupts it with an unadorned and unsung violence. It is a violence that serves no purpose, but one that nonetheless needs its day, one that demands its place in the visible space of nature and culture. By exhausting her inherently violent energy, this symbolic woman is also asserting herself as something powerful, something that has a right to exist. She affirms that all-consuming rage has a rightful place in nature, even if it is gritty and ugly, and that every once in a while, we need to confront it.