The late Swedish author and playwright Lars Norén once said that in order to write a book one must first create the author. The statement suggests that the author, and the person who created the author, are two entities; bound together through the sharing of the same flesh and skin, but with different sets of traits that simultaneously separate them. The author becomes, in this way, the person’s persona. Carl Gustav Jung described the persona as the output that our behavior creates, and which the outside world uses as means in order to interpret what they experience; a mask only capable to show limited number of aspects of a person. The person is thus, in relationship to the persona, a complex entity, while the persona is simple. And herein lies the implicit message of the statement: in order to succeed in one’s creative feats, one must simplify oneself; either by simplifying one’s background, thematics, or body of work, or all three, as they are usually seamlessly intertwined. This might — as the statement proposes — be the result of a conscious process. But the process is often unconsciously instigated and maintained through the creation of the works themselves. As the act of creating something at the same time is an exclusion of the creation of something else, the created something can never fully encapsulate the entireness which constitutes a person. In this way the body of work also leads to the simplified persona. Through the analogy of the mask we learn that certain personal sacrifices have to be made. The mask can not, and should not, encapsulate the entireness of the person. The gain of the simplification is that it presents a narrative which is easier for the outside world to interpret, put a label on, and embrace.
The original meaning of the verb sculpting is to remove. The sculptor removes material in order to make clear. The remains are cleaned up and discarded. The creation of the persona can be likened the process of sculpting; some traits are made clear and other traits are removed. But since the persona shares flesh and skin with the person, we cannot clean them up and discard them. Thus the traits live side by side in our bodies, and the monitoring of their relationship is crucial and omnipresent, as any breach of the border poses risks in an outside world that demand simplicity.
Björn Bengtsson’s body of work can, just like with any artist’s body of work, be described with certain traits. Materials, shapes, constructions, energies, concepts; they all produce a perceived persona in the minds of the onlookers. It is the perfectly simple narrative. Until you walk into his studio. All over the studio can be found other works that can best be described as three dimensional doodles. Works which are totally different in all aspects. The reason, we learn, is that they do not belong to the persona but to the person. But in the studio the border is controlled.
However, by, for the first time, lifting the body of work of the person out of the studio, and juxtaposing it with the body of work of the persona, the exhibition breaches the border. As a result the narrative gets complicated and blurred.
What are we now looking at?