In the exhibition ‘Bytting’ with Linda Soh Trengereid on view in KUBEN, we are invited to walk into a mystical and gloomy landscape. The viewer is met by a large canvas covering the end wall of the space, depicting woodland and the large overturned root of a tree. The contours of two human figures, seemingly an adult and a child being carried on the back, are visible in the midst of the scenery, defined by the greenery that surrounds them.
In her new body of work, Trengereid takes the term bytting, changeling, from Norwegian folklore as her point of departure for a mediation over notions of belonging. A changeling was a child that underground beings had exchanged for a newborn human child. It was believed that newborn children were particularly at risk of being taken, and since the underground beings envied the strength and health of humans, they would attempt to trade away their own children to strengthen their lineage. A change was identified in the child through an abnormality that was not detected at birth, for example through illness, that the child showed special marks on the skin, or a general perception that the child was different. If people suspected their child was a changeling, they would try to get rid of it. It was said that if one tormented the changeling to the point where it screamed in agony, the underground being would come to collect it and return the human child.
As a three-month-old infant, Trengereid was adopted from South Korea and for a long time, she didn’t know her own story or where she originated from. In the exhibition, Trengereid draws on her own background as an adoptive child and makes connections between inner and outer landscapes in an exploration of alienation and affiliation.