Back in the 1980s, someone at the Preus Museumin Norway discovered a catalogue of century-old photographs in a box marked “private.”
According to museum officials, there’s nothing strange about uncovering private, sentimental images tucked away with collections of professional work. It’s something that happens all the time when people go digging through the archives.
But something about the personal images found in a series of work by photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg was peculiar and deliciously offbeat.
You may think that calling the gender binary into question is a completely modern phenomenon, but based on what these curators found, that’s simply not the case.
While there’s something playful about the images that these two women captured, there’s also an inherent seriousness about them.
The photographers and their models explored the standards to which people were held on both sides of the binary. The contrast is hard to ignore.
There’s a triumphant air about the images that explore masculinity — something resolute and full of promise.
While women were making strides by that point in history, the images centered around femininity in the collection feel stifled and closed off.
That being said, there’s a marked joviality about the collection as well. After all, people have always found joy in doing the opposite of what’s expected.
Although serious undertones certainly shine through in a few of the photographs, the series was likely captured in good fun. These two photographers worked at a time when professional life was finally extending its reach to women, as evidenced by their own careers. The collection is full of posed bodies, but somehow, these pictures feel candid. They feel like authentic little windows into a version of the past that we don’t often get to see.
To learn more about this collection and the other amazing work at the Preus Museum, be sure to visit their website.