Nadja Bournonville

26.10. – 17.11.2018

Nadja Bournonville, born 1983 in Sweden, based in Berlin. Bournonville graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2006 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art photography, she completed her MA studies in 2012 at the Leipzig Visual Academy, graduating with the work ”A Conversion Act”, an exhibition and book project based around the elusive diagnoses of hysteria. Bournonville has worked as a freelance artist represented by Pierogi Gallery, New York, since 2008 with several exhibitions in Europe and abroad. In 2013 she was part of the touring exhibition ”Gute Aussichten”. In 2014 Bournonville received a grant from Stiftung Kunstfond and worked for two years on ”Blindfell”, a series concerning the limitations of sight and it’s relationship with analog photography. In 2018 she was selected by Ingo Taubhorn for the “Recommended Fellowship”.


“The first world war came to an end in 1918, it was a war in which the aunt of Nadja Bournonville’s grandmother played a very small part as one of the most useless spies recruited by the Germans. Eva de Bournonville, a Swedish lady descending from a well known and respected Danish family of ballet choreographers and singers found herself in serious economic trouble at the outbreak of the war. When she was contacted by a Mr. Smith and offered a simple way, without too much effort involved, as he claimed, to get out of debt and earn a lot of money by working for the German Secret Service in London, she accepted. A few months later she was already on a boat heading for London. However, her spy career ended before it even took off, one and a half month, and 12 postcards with secret ink, after Eva de Bournonville arrived in London, there was a knock on the door of her hotelroom, Scotland Yard had come to pick her up. Before the court she stated: ”I just wanted a little bit of adventure”. After the trial with overwhelming evidence against her, she was sentenced to be hanged, but somehow, with the involvement of the King and the prime minister, this lady was saved. Instead of hanging Eva was sentenced to penal servitude for life. When the war came to an end a few years later, she was deported back to Sweden where she became a respected language teacher and lived to be 108 years old.
A photographer is also a witness, a spy and a creator of alternative realities. The camera, digital or analog has it’s limits in telling a ”true” story but photography has the ability to step in and take the place of memories, through photographs some things become visible, others disappear. A bit like the secret ink commonly used by spies during the early days of the first world war, treated in the right way it develops completely but looked at with the wrong methods it becomes unreadable and confusing. ”

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