To mark the 100th birthday of legendary director Ingmar Bergman this 2018, Hallwylska Museet presents “Bergman på Modet”, a stones’ throw from Ingmar Bergman plats in shiny Östermalm. Co- produced with SCFI/Stockholm Costume & Fashion Institute, Bergman på modet displays among photos and drawings, costumes which shape the alleged “Bergman female” from a number of his films set during the late 19 th – early 20 th century. A time period corresponding to the activity of the immensely rich Hallwylska family, who bequeathed their palace to the Swedish State in 1920.
Entering the exhibition on the first floor of Hallwylska Museet is confusing. Nestled among the ruins of the enshrined Hallwylska home, you search for a trace of Bergman. Instead you find the decadence of Swedish high society in its Victorian era. Built in 1893-98 without any budgetary restriction by Gustaf Clason (1856-1930), the Hallwylska House is a sort of luxurious horde. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the heritage of a country currently contemplating national identity, but feels foreign to the Swedish experience portrayed in Bergman’s films, trapped between life and death; the ideal and the lived.
Scattered throughout two floors of the exhibition, costumes worn by some of Bergman’s women become part of the language of the lavish interior of the house. Appearing like decorations or furniture these outfits pose one of Bergman’s most cherished problems, which he articulated so exquisitely in Persona (1966); “The hopeless dream of being – not seeming, but being.” This conflict between seeming and being is the Bergman female, conjured by language and the social imagination but charged with a deeply mysterious energy. She is Bergman’s gift to modern cinema, resurrected now and then in films by the likes of Lars Von Trier and Tarkovsky and ultimately portrayed as she is experienced, by men.
Hallwylska Museet embodies the afterlife Bergman was ever in search of. Where he is finally laid to rest; in exhibition, between collections, among artifacts and ruins. Consigned to the curated world of appearance which he spent his career as a film maker attempting to break. We see this preoccupation in one of Bergman’s final works, Larmar och gör sig till (1997) which sees a mentally unwell professor fail in his attempt to create a “living film”. Bergman på modet exhibits the costume of Rigmor, the unworldly clown that appears to the madman in moments of jarring contact, capable of approaching the real by appalling all notions of reality.
However Bergman på modet firmly fixes Bergman’s women and harbingers of death in a bourgeoisie reality. Where their ghosts haunt the floors of fine society, rummaging through trinkets and antiques in search of unfinished business. Appearing in the dead of night as clowns and witches. Destined to spend eternity taunting us with one of Bergman’s riddles; how do you die if you’ve never lived – if you’ve been no more than a picture on a film screen. As we float toward what would have been Bergman’s 100 th birthday on the 14 th July, Bergman på modet is an interesting retrospective on the recent legacy of Ingmar Bergman. It’s a good beginning to this year’s celebration of one of Sweden’s, if not the world’s, great artists and existentialists.
Rachel / Kunstportal