Anna Berndtson was born in 1972 in Malmö, Sweden. In 1992 she moved to England, where she lived, worked and later on studied. She studied Postdramatic-Theatre at the Dartington College of Arts, where she explored the presentation and staging of both herself as well as an ensemble. Influences from the fine arts made her work more visual and physical and less staged or theatrical. She graduated with a BA (Honours) Degree in Theatre from the Dartington College of Arts in 1999.
After her graduation she moved to Berlin, Germany where she participated in various theatre and dance performances and events. She started to study Fine Arts and joined the Performance Class of Marina Abramovic at the HBK Braunschweig, Germany. In 2003 she co-founded the performance duo, TBL (TallBlondLadies), together with the German artist Irina Runge, also a student of Marina Abramovic. Anna Berndtson graduated with a Diplom in Fine Arts from the HBK in 2005. She now lives and works in Sweden and Germany, working foremost with Long Duration Live Performance Art.
Long Duration Live Performance, usually featured at galleries and museums, in nature or urban space, is the foundation of Anna’s artistic practice. This form is based on the artist’s focus and presence in time and space. The audience is an important part of her work because their presence becomes part of the live experience.
Anna places her body and perception of space and her surroundings in the centre of the work. She questions what is still genuine in today’s digital and fast moving society. Anna creates still life images in the minds of the public, using clear focused tasks that are performed for hours or days and that reaches an intensity that provokes and touches, with a deceleration requiring the patience and the willingness of the public to engage.
To retain a presence over several hours or even over several days is the main challenge in this art form. The sustained long duration can simultaneously be perceived as both exciting and boring, both eventful and monotonous. The mission to stimulate the public, capture their attention and keep it, is reflected in the endurance of the artist, who simultaneously works on maintaining the position, the presence and the concentration on what is performed.
Continually revising her working methods and utilising new resources Anna maintains her focus on what is essential. She regards it as enriching and inspiring to work with new subject areas and materials and always try to challenge her own boundaries. Other media such as photo and video have evolved within her practice and are now a well integrated component.
Anna has performed and exhibited work extensively, including; The Performance Arcade, Wellington, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Fondation Beyeler, Basel, the Bluecoat, Liverpool, Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal, Liljevalchs, Stockholm, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, The LAB Gallery, Dublin, Artists Space, New York, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, PS1 MoMA, New York, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and VV2 at the Venice Biennale.
In 2017, she was engaged as a re-performance artist in Marina Abramovic’s retrospective exhibition, The Cleaner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, and in 2018 at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway.
Anna Berndtson has received several distinguished residency grants, including a residency stay at Bergmangårdarna on Fårö, Sweden, the Artist-in-Residency Program, Nordic Artists’ Centre Dalsåsen, Norway, The Fire Station Artists’ Studios and ADI Award in Dublin, Ireland and the Artist-in-Residence Grant at Worpswede Künstlerhäuser, Germany. She has also received working and travel grants from amongst others Konstnärsmämden, IASPIS and Aase & Richard Björklunds fond, in Sweden.
Apart from her solo work Anna Berndtson works in numerous collaborations with other artist and in groups. Since 2003 Anna Berndtson and Irina Runge have worked together in the Performance-Duo TBL (TallBlondLadies). TBL was joined by Corinna Siebert and Kathrin Jobczyk and in 2019 the four of them founded the new multimedia group plan42.