Untold Stories: The Staged Photography of Nygårds Karin Bengtsson

A baby with a dunce cap in the corner, a fool in his costume half in the river, a small boy in the library, a little girl with a mirror – the carefully staged images of Swedish photographer Nygårds Karin Bengtsson seem like parts of a classic European arthouse movie.

The landscapes are desolate, the rooms often austere. A few characters perform and entertain others for a living yet remain disconnected from the world. There are letters with important messages (confessions of love? goodbyes?) and closed chests (with treasure? troubling secrets?). The tones go from light to dark. Every image remains pregnant with dramatic tension and the unhappiness that comes with being alone, being misunderstood. We do not know who these individuals are or what exactly has happened in their lives. We must think their tales for them.

Nygårds Karin Bengtsson

Nygårds Karin is interested in themes that endure: man’s relation to time and space, fact and fiction, memory and vision. She writes: “I am mainly influenced by painters, and especially by (dead) Scandinavian painters from the last century, such as Edvard MunchVilhelm Hammershøi, Nils Dardel and Hugo Simberg. I can identify with their sense of melancholy and loneliness. I also collect old photographs of unknown people at flea-markets. Mostly those where the nameless figures stand very still in front of the camera, maybe with a help of a support to avoid moving and thereby, creating an unsharp image.

“I am very fond of short novels, like the ones from Alice Munro. For me, they are like a very good artwork: Intense, concentrated and right on spot. A filmmaker that inspires me is David Lynch, for his enigmatic stories where you don’t really know what is going on and where you are. I try to leave my images in the state of an untold story. You will never know what the image is about if you don’t ask yourself. Then, I am influenced by life itself: the sad, beautiful life. Forgotten memories, dreams and observations.”

Born in 1972 in Mora, Dalacarlia, Nygårds Karin Bengtsson now lives and works in the vicinity of Höganäs in Scania, southern Sweden. She obtained her MFA from the University of Art and Design (today Aalto University) in Helsinki, Finland in 2003. Her work has been shown at Fotografiska (Stockholm), Malmö Art Museum (Malmö) and Eskilstuna Art Museum (Eskilstuna), among other places.

Links: Website (www.nygardskarinbengtsson.com) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/nygardskarinbengtsson)

Images used with permission.


A Fool’s Day


The Chest




Other Stories


The Attics


The Letter


The Forest




Dunce Cap


The Boat


The Fool


Deer Room


Boy with Mirror