Jo Bentdal’s art project consists of a total of 12 photographs from the series The Law of the Instrument and Common Sensibility.
In both images and text, the art project engages with the audience and encourages contemplating the individual and society – a subject matter achieving new relevance in public space.
The curious and colorful photographs, currently at display in Munkedamsveien, blown up to 2 x 3 meters, are highly prominent for everyone passing by, either encountering the images up close or experiencing them from afar. In Dokkveien, the portraits of the girls, 12-15 years of age, sit as if rendered in a renaissance oil painting, gazing towards the National Museum.
The art project is produced in collaboration with Kulturbyrået Mesén, art consultant and art producer.
The descriptions below of the artworks are by the artist.
The portraits in Common Sensibility represent a generation of girls on the threshold of adulthood, casually dressed in their everyday attire, but instructed into a ceremonious and formal pose.
Tension can be sensed as the images emanate both strength and vulnerability, suggesting the sitter’s inner psychology or state of mind. Are the parameters set by tradition and previous generations acceptable? The artistic measures that are applied in these pictures support the impression of authority and entitlement in the new generation, but they also represent a confinement to their nature, a source of limitation and unease. In the confrontation with observers, can they trust us?
The project is, among other things, investigating the nature of power structures in society: the individual versus the collective, formal versus natural authority, and tradition versus innovation.
The Law of the Instrument
“Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.” Abraham Kaplan, 1962.
Jo Bentdal’s photographs turn everyday objects into shape, light, and color. But what do we see? A hammer that floats? A jack hovering in empty space? The images are colorful and seductive, yet fairly hard to read. They invite meta-cognition: should we understand the images, or just feel them?
The Law of the Instrument explores the notion that we humans as a species hold a powerful tool that has ensured our dominance on the planet: our analytical brain. Close to 100,000 years back, spoken language entered the stage. 10,000 years ago we began cultivating land, cities emerged, and we developed the written language. 75 years ago, digital data processing arose. The trajectory seems to have been exponential since the word, and AI and the Technological Singularity is merely a prophesied culmination of the graph.
Yet, we are only human and our perspective is anthropocentric, and AI, with all its promises and perils, represents an even more narrow vision of life on earth.
Maybe the time has come to stop considering our main strength as something unconditionally positive, but still hope we have the ability to limit our negative impact on life on earth?
Jo Bentdal (b. 1968) is a visual artist holding an MSc in applied physics. He has a background of 16 years as a strategy consultant, focusing on digital technologies and communication before turning to full time art photography in 2010. His debut was at the annual national art exhibition ”Høstutstillingen” in Oslo in 2015.
Purchased by Strays Foundation, the DNB art collection, Kunst i skolen, Tusen Takk Foundation (USA), The Møller Collection, Ferd, as well as private collectors.
- The Norwegian National Annual Art Exhibition (Høstutstillingen, Statens kunstutstilling), 3 images, Oslo 2015*
- The Danish Artists Autumn Exhibition, 4 Images, Copenhagen 2015*
- “Common Sensibility”, Shoot Gallery Oslo, solo show, Oslo 2016
- Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, solo show, Kristiansund 2016
- “Interfaces”, Shoot Gallery Oslo, solo show, Oslo 2017
- Aipad, Association of International Photography Art Dealers, Art Fair, 4 images, Pier 94, New York 2017
- “The Law of the Instrument”, solo show, Shoot Gallery Oslo, Oslo 2018
- “Legacy”, Flow Photofest, solo show, Inverness museum/Thurso art gallery, Scotland 2021
- Oslo Negativ 2022, photographic art fair, solo show, The old library, Oslo 2022
* juried exhibitions