Tonje Bøe Birkeland, born in Bergen, Norway in 1985, received an MFA from Bergen Academy of Art & Design. In 2008, Birkeland began working on her ongoing series The Characters, in which she aims to create a position for women within the natural landscape and to consider the position of women in the history of exploration. While the romantic motives of the male wanderer have been well-documented, in Birkeland’s project, female explorers are inserted into this narrative.
The artist casts herself as her imaginary historical heroines that integrate the feminine into traditional narratives of travel and question the construction of these male dominated histories. Birkeland’s large scale works present the figure within vast plains, on top of mountains and in glacial valleys. The project has taken her around the world including Bhutan, Mongolia and into the Arctic circle. The Characters was published into Birkeland’s first monograph in 2016.
Birkeland has been the recipient of several awards including The Victor Fellowship by the Hasselblad Foundation in 2012. Her work has been shown internationally in Denmark, Sweden, America and the UK.