Jo Bentdal

Common Sensibility

Jo Bentdal

Sept 4 – Sept 25

Thurso Art Gallery

Davidson’s Lane
Thurso, Caithness KW14 7AF

Leah, from the series: Common Sensibility – Jo Bentdal

In this work the viewer faces the sensitive strong gaze of a teenager in the process of figuring out who she is. And who she seeks to become. This generation of girls respect themselves, outperform the boys of their own age at school and expect to be heard, but what expectations are they subject to?

The traditional format and formal pose reference elements from Renaissance portraiture. But it is not older, privileged men in high-status roles who look at us, but young women with life ahead of them. They look straight at us, with authority. Can they trust us?

“I want to convey that authority is not dependent on title. It’s about who you are. Formal authority, which comes with a position or a uniform, is something else. No matter what kind of authority you have, in a way, you are reporting to the next generation. These girls are facing adulthood and the female role is about to take a very positive shape. This is perhaps the first generation of women approaching something we can call full equality. At the same time, there is a vulnerability here. These girls can probably be easily harmed, if you so wish. Vulnerability is part of being human. At the same time, people with power, or perhaps dignity is a better concept, should also be vulnerable. Vulnerability becomes a quality. If a person with authority is not at the same time vulnerable, we are approaching fascism.”

Jo Bentdal


Jo Bentdal is a Norwegian photographer whose work is concerned with the relationship between society’s power structures and our individual development actually played out? What shapes us, and what controls us?