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Katja Bjørn

Relief 2013

Double-channel video installation, 17:00 min, with sound

“[…] Relief (2013) is a two-channel video in which we follow a group of naked men in one projection, a group of naked women in the other. The women are dragging a lawn roller through a landscape. Whether the burden is self-imposed or not, it can certainly be shared. Pulling the roller along is hard work, but the women go about the task without complaint. The roller becomes an absurd or comical element. What do they want it for? What are they going to do with it? It comes across as an arbitrary object you have to carry around with you – like so much in life – but which in itself does not contain meaning or civilisation. In the accompanying video, we see a large group of men moving with some difficulty through a rocky landscape to finally go out into the sea, where they appear to drown themselves. While the women are full of power and dynamism, the naked, white-bottomed men finding their way gingerly across sharp and smooth stones seem vulnerable and slightly ridiculous. They help each other into the water with mutual care and concern, support each other, tread water for a while, and finally let themselves sink apathetically into the sea. The women reach a hilltop, let go of the roller, and proceed to dance and spin across the fields. When the men go out to sea and drown, the black soil turns to green grass and the women dance with even greater abandon. The question is whether the ‘relief’ referenced in the title means that the men are finally able to shuffle off this mortal coil in the sea and death, or whether relief is here reserved exclusively for the women.”

From the article Body, Gender and Motherhood in Katja Bjørn's Video Art (2023) by Camilla Skovberg Paldam

Exhibited as part of the solo show Unspoken Stories at KØN – Gender Museum Denmark in 2013.