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August 24, 2017

100-Year-Old Private Photos Show Two Cool Women Playing With Gender Roles

In a box marked “private”, an amazing collection of glassplates were found 30 years ago, amongst the remnants of the two portrait photographers Marie Høeg (1866-1949) and Bolette Berg (1872-1944).

In 1895, they established the Berg & Høeg photography studio in Horten, Norway, where they took portraits and views of Horten and surroundings and lived on the proceeds from sales. At that time, photography was seen as a decent and acceptable profession for women, as it was a profession that demanded a certain amount of aesthetic sense – as part of the female nature.

These photos from The Preus Museum were not ordinary keepsake pictures. They indicate that the two photographers, especially Marie Høeg, experimented with various gender roles from between 1895 to 1903.

Imagine the fun they must have had, cross-dressing and playing! At the same time, the images are deeply serious, as they reflect upon the expectations and attitudes towards women, and their lack of rights and freedom.

We know that Høeg was the extrovert and started groups to fight for women's rights. Bolette Berg was less in the public view. However, she must have been back of the camera in many of these photographs, which have attracted international notice.

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