About this artwork
In her films, photographs, and videos, A K (Anne Katrine) Dolven explores notions of female beauty, the Romantic sublime, and temporal transformation. Rich in art-historical and conceptual references, her typically pared-down settings blend the surreal and uncanny with prosaic depictions of everyday rituals, subverting normal expectations—for example, a little girl’s bedroom is inhabited by an elderly woman, Edvard Munch’s 1902 woodcut The Kiss is restaged in a techno club, and a corporate office becomes the setting for a modern-day Madonna and Child.
Amazon—arguably the artist’s most powerful film to date—depicts an androgynous archer repeatedly raising and drawing a bow, which casts sharp shadows across the figure’s chest. Close-up views of neck, shoulder, and upper arm muscles snapping between tension and rest are visually dissected by short sequences and rapid changes in camera angle. As Andrea Schlieker observed, “Dolven has used the transformative power of the body fragment to great effect” in her films. The choice of 16mm film and the small scale of the projected image add to the sense of intimacy conveyed by the close-up camera work. The artist has stated, “The way I use the frame in video is similar to the way I would use the four sides of a painting. I am interested in what we ‘see’ in the work, in how you touch the edge, but also how it touches upon an ‘unseen’ element, an element of the imagination, which exists outside the frame.” Vacillating between close-ups and mid-shots, the camera never reveals the identity of the protagonist, allowing the imagination to fill in the blanks.
Dolven deftly conveys a lifetime of experience in a fleeting one and a half minutes; the film is looped in such a way as to allow repeated viewings, each one divulging new information without ever telling the whole story. The piece ends with a quick mid-shot of the archer’s bare torso, exposing a missing breast. Referring to the mythic race of female warriors who were said to cut off their right breasts to facilitate the drawing of the bow and increase the accuracy of their arrows, the title conveys the harnessed strength, courage, and physical determination required to overcome breast cancer and the other corporeal obstacles women may face.
Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- AK Dolven
- 16mm color film, silent; 1:34 min. loop Edition number five of five
- Claire and Gordon Prussian Fund for Contemporary Art
- © 2005 A K Dolven.