Russian artist in the Residency: Masha Bender

Masha Bender FB
Photo: Masha Bender, private

Next guest in the Artist in Residence program is a Russian artist from St. Petersburg, Masha Bender. She is a photographer who is not afraid of mixing traditional methods with futuristic after-effects, resulting in her own surrealistic style. Here is an introduction to Masha as she is on her way to Træna.

Hi Masha, who are you, and what project are you going to do at Træna?


My name is Masha Bender, I’m a visual artist. I mostly work with experimental visuals. At one of my exhibitions a German critic described my esthetics as “post-vintage photography” – it’s quite what it is. I’m really excited to come to Træna and experience the life of this small fisher’s village. I’ll let myself be surprised about the pictures that will come out. I have set some frames for myself: I want to work mostly with portraits of local people and with landscapes of the island, also I imagine a lot of water in my future series. But I’m always ready to shift the frames I chose and go a different way.



For a Russian artist living in Malmö, Sweden, how did you find out about applying to the Residency at Træna?



I discovered about Træna via my Russian fragile beauty colleague actually, just through some lucky coincidence. And that I applied for it is even more a coincidence. You see, every Friday I do one thing that is inspiring but is not on the top of my To Do list. There’re always these ideas and projects you don’t find time for. I collect all new ones in a dream file and every Friday I spontaneously choose one and put it on the top of my To Do list. One Friday, it was Træna Residency. So you can say it was lucky but I can also say: I schedule my dreams. And I’m very thankful that I was invited to this magic island.


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Time to raise a glass of champagne! ✨ Two months ago I stumbled upon an extremely exciting Norwegian art project @tenktraena. It's one of these cases where people are really interested to work and fulfill their ideas, not just to make an impression of creating "modern art". In this small community, changes happen fast, straight in front of your eyes by people who don't have any gap between an idea and realization. They come. And they realize. Træna is a group of islands, a municipality far out to sea, about 33 nautical miles from the mainland. The location sounds like a dream. I'm thrilled to be invited as one of the artists and the only artist who will represent Russia at Air Traena in 2017. I anticipate the feeling of coming to this place and watch my ideas unfold in front of 500 inhabitants of a small fishing village as I roll around the islands to compose a new exhibition. Pushkin commented while writing Evgeny Onegin that he absolutely lost control over his characters. They took over and began to behave in the least expected way. I imagine this isolated place might have the same effect on me. I will lose control. The ideas will take over. And that's what thrills me the most. #mashabender #traena #tenktraena

A post shared by Маша Бендер | Бизнес по-женски (@benderneverlies) on


What expectations do you have for your stay?


I expect it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride through fragile beauty.


How will the island notice that you are here?


I’m will be out a lot – hunting for locations on the island. To be honest, I’m not very social and I can work alone for very long time, I don’t get lonely and prefer dialogues over social gatherings. That’s why you might find me talking to one fisher or another. Photography is also a dialogue.


What plans do you have after your stay?


I really travel a lot. It’s not an exaggeration. My husband is a Swedish composer who tours a lot and I join him everywhere, also we do a world tour once a year for two months. So my life is divided into two phases – active (traveling, fulfilling) and reflecting (gathering inspirations and making new plans). Træna is very active, so after this trip I’m gonna need a refill. We will travel to my home city (St. Petersburg) and spend some very simple days there.


What kind of results are you expecting?


I’m expecting to have a complete series of works for a new exhibition. All my series are traveling with me and are being exhibited during the world tours but for this particular one I hope to have an exhibition in Træna.


In what way is the project relevant for Træna, Nordland, Norway or Europe?


It’s hard for me to speak about it before I even arrived on the island. 🙂 But it’s impossible for me to create something without a connection to the place and the people around you. I can’t imagine that. Every time on a world tour I take a picture in each new city and I watch this city walking into me, whirlpooling inside and coming out like a square picture. I have no idea about the physics of this process. It’s completely unknown to me. And this will happen to me in Træna for sure.

Welcome to Træna Masha!

Follow Masha Bender on Instagram

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(Eng⤵️⤵️⤵️) Говорят, побольше публиковать моих картинок! А что же я буду на выставках выставлять, если тут всё публиковать, а? Вот примеряю пальто-водопад всё утро. Девочки, кому водопад? Проблему с карманом понимаю, ничего не спрячешь туда, НО я думаю, что практичностью можно поступится в угоду красоте. Правда же? /// You say you wanna see more of my works here! What am I gonna exhibit then if I publish my works here all the time? 🙈Anyway, I have been trying on the waterfall coat the whole morning, so refreshing… Who wants a waterfall coat, girls? I admit the issue with pockets, yep, doesn't work well… but it's worth to sacrifice conveniency for beauty sometimes. Right? #mashabender

A post shared by Маша Бендер | Бизнес по-женски (@benderneverlies) on

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