Week 15 - 2016

Spry 150-year-old

Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg, [Portrait of Marie Høeg with cigarette], ca. 1895-1903. Preus museum's collection.

Spry 150-year-old

15 April is the birthday of Marie Høeg (1866-1949) – the liveliest woman in the Preus Museum. Together with Bolette Berg (1872-1944) she founded Berg & Høeg photo studio in Horten, Norway, in 1895. Four hundred forty glass negatives from Berg & Høeg are in the museum collection, primarily portraits and views of Horten. But among the cartons of negatives several were discovered in the 1980s marked "private." They revealed the close-cropped Marie Høeg's playful experiments with gender roles.


We know that Høeg was the outgoing one who formed groups such as Den selskabelige Diskusjonsforening (the Association for Social Discussion) in Horten. Bolette Berg was less visible in public. But she must have been behind the camera for many of these photographs, which have attracted international attention.


Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg didn't operate in a vacuum; there are other boundary-shattering photographic projects in Europe and America around 1900. They are expressions of women's battle for full civil rights and the right to define their own identity. So these photographs are part of an international story that carries meaning, acknowledgement, and recognition for all women—something that gives them up-to-the-minute importance.   


Happy birthday, Marie!