Elin Berge: Queejna

09.10.2021 - 11.11.2021

Opening and Artists inteview on Friday 8.10. 5pm

5-5:45 Discussion between Elin Berge and Selina Väliheikki.

The exhibition Queejna shows women with different backgrounds and opportunities in a number of photographic works by Elin Berge taken between 2004 – 2018. The women portrayed have in common that they are often seen as provoking to their surroundings or perceived as victims for social and/or religious norms in society. The photographs ask questions like: What is real love? What is male/female? Who is entitled to the female body?

The title of the exhibition Queejna showcases the duality of the word queejna, which the Västerbotten-born writer Sara Lidman used in the meaning of ”woman”. The word queejna can also mean the “queen of the house”, i.e. a powerful woman, as she applied it when she described Hagar, the wild independent woman in the epic The Railway. Hagar was also called ”främmenqueejna”, which, with a postmodern interpretation, can be read as ”The Other”. Berge has with her camera sought to find groups of women that, in different ways, are dealt with as ”The Other”, thus embracing Sara Lidmans term Queejna.

Berge uses her camera to look for alternative interpretations of an apparently obvious situation. The photographs return our gaze to ourselves. What do we really think about the women’s life choices and what does it tell us about ourselves as observers? The exhibition includes, among other things, portraits of young Muslim women in the project Veils, which testify to how a hijab can provide freedom in a sexist society. The work challenges a general view of the veil as a religious symbol and we ask ourselves who is free or oppressed in society. In the same room as the exhibition is the work Awakening which portrays a group of women who find the freedom to affirm their naked bodies. The groups may seem far apart, but on closer inspection, have something in common in their longing for being a woman without the condemnatory view of society. In the series The Land of Queens and The Kingdom, the image of Thai women who emigrated to our country and married Swedish men is nuanced. The work explores major questions about migration, power structures, freedom of choice as human beings, welfare and love.

Through Berge’s eyes, all women appear as individuals in their own right. She focuses on their actions and strengths, even in a reality that includes oppressive structures. For future generations of young women and men, a nuanced image of our world is important as an injection against prejudices, which can contribute to a more tolerant environment.

In the exhibition Queejna, Berge shows pictures from the previous series Suicide Girls (2004), Veils (2006), Bare Breasts (2008), The Land of Queens (2009) and The Kingdom (2015), and newer works like Predators (2018) and Awakening (2020).

Texts: Susanne Fessé

Susanne Fessé is an art historian with a focus on photography, publisher of VERK magazine and active as a curator in the Nordic countries.

The Land of Queens a film by Lars Berge and Elin Berge is screened in cooperation with Oulu Film Centre on Thursday 28.10. at 6:30 pm in Movie theatre Studio, Cultural Centre Valve 2 floor. The screening is free of charge and we ask visitors to book the seat from the ticket office in Valve. The screening is part of the Guided tours organized by Cultural Centre Valve.

”Aum and Jacqui, Sacred Womb Women's Festival, Ängsbacka, 2017" From the series The Awakening (2020)


  • ”Aum and Jacqui, Sacred Womb Women's Festival, Ängsbacka, 2017