Kenneth Bamberg‘s exhibition Johan in the Photo North – Northern Photographic Centre’s main gallery deals with violence experienced by men in relationships. What are the cultural notions and structures that make it so difficult for men to show their feelings and weaknesses? How seriously do the authorities take physically and psychologically abused men? The exhibition is dedicated to a man named Johan, who was killed by his ex-partner before the exhibition was completed.  

Bamberg became interested in the subject after reading a newspaper article about a man who had called the emergency services after being assaulted by his wife. The emergency dispatcher had asked if he was really taking a beating from a woman and wanted to know the size difference between the husband and the wife. Eventually, the emergency services advised him to deal with the situation on his own.  

The series of works in Johan is based on words and stories of men: personal photos and video interviews of men, victims of domestic violence, form a key part of the exhibition. Bamberg has found the interviewees through organisations that help victims of violence, and they were involved in the process as volunteers. The works feature participants from all Nordic countries. Their fates are different yet similar: one has reported multiple heart attacks, another was threatened with knives, third was doused with lighter fluid. In addition to the portraits of the men, the exhibition features words and phrases taken from the victims’ stories embroidered on canvas by Bamberg.  

The exhibition has been supported by Akillesjouren, The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters, Horsens Krisecenter for mænd, Miessakit Association, Miesten asema, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Finnfoto, Kone Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Svenska kulturfonden, Finnish-Swedish Cultural Fund, Finnish-Norwegian Cultural Fund, Nordic Culture Point, Svenska litteratursällskapet, Nygrens stiftelse, Oskar Öflunds stiftelse, Council for Gender Equality, Otto A. Malm Foundation, Reform, MannsForum and Samtök um karlaathvarf. 

Photo North – Pohjoinen valokuvakeskus
Kenneth Bamberg
16 September – 12 November 2023

Additional Information

Kenneth Bamberg