Emma Bernhard – Resistance, Tolerance and Power

Belenius/Nordenhake is proud to open the first solo exhibition in Sweden by Emma Bernhard. Born in Stockholm 1981, Emma Bernard received a BA in philosophy at the St. Louis University in Madrid, a BA in painting at St. Martins, London, and a BA in sculpture at Wimbledon College of Arts, London.

Every action, every prejudice and every word has been used before. They have been thought and planted before we had an opportunity to stop them.

If we look back, we can trace the reactions to our history, hoping the choices we make today will influence the future. The guilt of how our society looks and acts is linked, as is its future, while we constantly pass this guilt onto each other. But we are only adding another layer to an unchanging history.

To retreat into one’s history is to surrender to our own weakness; to run from it is the same. To meet, understand, and then refuse to accept this history as a self-definitive truth is to take responsibility for the time in which we live. Our history cannot change, but should be questioned as a basis for our thought patterns.

We fail and should meet our own shortcomings with the same intensity as we meet others’. If not, how can we take each other seriously?

My sculptures and paintings fail. They fall into pieces if you walk into them. They fail on their own theories. They fail in their unsuccessful lines. They have fallen out of someone else´s scale of worth.

They stumble on their own language and try to make up for it by finding a home in their history. The created stability is fleeting and balance must at all times be restored. All parts are essential in their ability to create a collective value.
A lot of these parts have been thrown away, others are not worth more than their form, and for the rest, carrying the others is their only purpose.

I keep thinking that we humans are collages of other people’s heritage, other people’s behaviours and aesthetics, both on an individual and on a social level. We only exist in relation to others and others exist only because of us.

In the need to define our existence, not through our own need or through our fellowship with others, but in the competition with each other and our separate histories, we hide our personal frailty, while weakening it even more.

Change, if it will be more than just another layer, has to start in our will to criticize ourselves; our willingness to share historical guilt and consequently the responsibility for our future. Dependence shouldn´t be shameful but worn with pride, not a sign of weakness but of strength.

Maybe acceptance is hidden in our inability to stand-alone.

/Emma Bernhard