mag RUNE OLSEN INTERVIEW/ RAUL ZAMUDIO RUTH BARKER / PLACES OF BELONGING AMINA BECH / BATTIR
HEIDI C MORSTANG INTERVIEW/ MARIANNE MORILD JUMANA MANNA YNGVAR LARSEN AGNES NEDREGAARD MAGNUS BJERK INGVILD KALDAL ANKI KING MARTIN SKAUEN JACK BANGERTER CARLOS DIEGO GARCIA
issue 1/ 2010/ published by nabroad/ www.maagmag.com/
nationality is really not that relevant. But where we come from, our references, where we live and the journeys we make is. måg is here to give you an insight into what we believe is making a mark, what we believe is interesting. måg provides a platform for projects related to contemporary visual arts. måg’s vision is to engage in a dialogue on contemporary art. So, WELCOME to the very first issue of måg published by NABROAD (Norwegian Artists Abroad). We are very proud to launch our title with such incredible support and interest from all corners of the world and from so many artists, creative media, arts industry and academic individuals. It is remarkable to think that NABROAD was established only in January 2010 and that so many individuals want to take part in our initiative promoting Norwegian art abroad as well as collaborate internationally, engaging in a dialogue on contemporary art. This is why we set up shop. We believe in collaboration and its power to make a mark. We are determined to make our mark, to initiate new working and collaborative methods as well as making waves. What sets NABROAD apart from other organisations is that those involved are artists
and creative individuals who thrive on collaboration and partnerships and measure success through this. måg will be published quarterly to give you a very special insight into what is happening with us, our friends and collaborators internationally. Please do get involved shaping måg by coming with comments and suggestions. –We thrive on receiving emails and phone calls from individuals who have something to say. We now declare måg open! Buckle up and Enjoy the Ride, and most of all; take part in the conversation: email@example.com Our links: måg website www.maagmag.com nabroad website
1 COVER PHOTO RUNE OLSEN www.runeolsen.net MAGAZINE DESIGN BY NABROAD © 2010 www.nabroad.org PUBLISHER: NABROAD NORWEGIAN ARTISTS ABROAD EDITOR: AUDHILD DAHLSTRØM GUEST EDITOR: PAVLA ALCHIN SUB EDITOR: LILLIAN UTNE SKJŒVELAND ADVERTISING: COD DIGITAL MEDIA LONDON Copyright of all editorial content is held by måg. Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden. måg © 2010 www.maagmag.com
FEATURES 8 RUNE OLSEN / Raul Zamudio 30 Places of Belonging / Ruth Barker 42 HEIDI C MORSTANG / måg 64 MARTIN SKAUEN / Artist Profile 70 BATTIR Artist Residency, Battir, Palestine /Amina Bech
86 Agnes Nedregård
3 måg/ NABROAD
94 Ingvild Kaldal
6 Guest Editor / Pavla Alchin
98 Anki King
100 Jumana Manna
/ Marianne Morild
108 Jack Bangerter
130 Malmø / Ingvild Kaldal
114 Yngvar Larsen 118 Magnus Bjerk 124 Marianne Morild 126 Hilde Kvivik Kavli
132 New York / Anki King
/guest /EDITOR/editor/ PAVLA ALCHIN Welcome to the first ever issue of måg. I would like to quote Czech born thinker Vilém Flusser, who suggests that: only by pulling back the cotton blanket of habit one discovers things. Flusser, whose ideas I used when writing the text accompanying Third Space, the exhibition produced by NABROAD as a part of the II Baltic Biennale in St Petersburg this summer, brings me to one of the main features of this issue. In Places of Belonging, Ruth Barker reacts to this text in a truly inspired way by producing a much looser and alternative essay taking us through the places of experience and musing on the differences between space and place. I also found the interview with the NY-based artist Rune Olsen particularly poignant. Conducted and brilliantly introduced by his fellow New Yorker, independent curator and critic Raul Zamudio. In his introduction Zamudio first (and rightly) questions Olsen’s categorisation as a specifically Norwegian artist to consequently focus on some motifs in the artist’s work. In the interview itself we follow Olsen from his Norwegian beginnings, through his stay in London to his current base – New York, we can then get familiar with Olsen’s opinions regarding his own practice and both New York and Norwegian art scenes. The måg GALLERY includes artist-written texts and will give you a chance to get an insight into individual art-
ist’s work. You might consider the argument put forward by Agnes Nedregård in Why Unpredictability Is Important where she points to a certain rigidity in the way performing art is shown in the large establishment art museums and galleries. Equally you could turn your attention to Ingvild Kaldal’s site-specific work When you see me again it won’t be me. In LETTERS you will get an opportunity to read correspondence from New York, Malmø, and London. I wish you all a truly inspiring experience.
PAVLA ALCHIN IS A LONDON BASED CZECH ARTIST, LECTURER, CURATOR AND WRITER. SHE RESENTLY CURATED SCHIMATIZO, (A VIDEO ART HAPPENING) AND THE THIRD SPACE (FOR NABROAD). PAVLA IS ALSO CURATING THE NABROAD PRODUCTION FROM THE NORSE, WHICH IS A SERIES OF EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS SHOWCASING NORWEGIAN ARTISTS WHO LIVE AND WORK IN THE UK. PAVLA LECTURES ON RUSSIAN, SCANDINAVIAN AND EASTERN EUROPEAN CINEMA AND VIDEO ART.
RUNE OLSEN By Raul Zamudio
Portrait of Rune Olsen in studio. by Chirs Sanders © 2010 www.chris-sanders.com
HOW fitting to launch måg by featuring Rune Olsen, a Norwegian artist living in New York whose work embodies well the heterogeneous artistic practices within and beyond his homeland. On the other hand, Norway, like any other country geo-culturally altered by globalization, can no more plausibly claim an aesthetic that is recognizably autochthonous any more than the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood is Scandinavian. Remember that song, with its intermittent sitar that de-centered its title off into musical and cultural marginalia? Although Olsen’s ostensible leitmotif up until recently has been animals, which hardly qualifies it as Norwegian, his zoomorphic tropes are nonetheless more like the fauna in Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist than any discernable landscape tradition be it Romantic, modernist, or any other aligned within the geopolitical borders of his land of birth.
Rune Olsen’s early sculptures starting from 2003, for example, are a bestial corpus that includes raccoons, opossums, and rats. The most latter rodent is represented in this series by a work similarly titled as the species rendered: Rattus Norvegicus. This particular rat can be traced back to China, but its migratory patterns over millennia have diffused it to practically all ports of entry and beyond. There are other creatures in Olsen’s iconographic bestiary of recent date; and regardless when they entered into the artist’s visual lexicon, they are linked by a persistent anthropomorphism that is not only startling, but that may even trigger our humanity into a state of unease; for Olsen’s animals are often depicted in a state of copulation or even subliminally eroticized if one can say that without appearing borderline zoophilic. More recently, Olsen has expanded his thematic métier to include children that, for example, have gone amok in seizing the gallery space of their debut this year at Johansson Projects in San Francisco. In one sense, there is a correlation between the two bodies of work: both dovetail on presumptions of innocence. However predatory nature can be, we often construe its violence as something outside of human purview. But, as one of the undercurrents to Olsen’s work regarding animals makes quite clear, is that nature is anything but natural. It is the human mammal and signifying primate that names the world of both culture and nature, which according to social constructivism is a false dichotomy anyway. Similarly as polyvalent, then, is Olsen’s recent work based on children.
Rune Olsen’s art, whether it be in sculpture, installation, collage or work-on-paper, has garnered much accolades attested by reviews in periodicals such as Artforum, Sculpture, and Art in America, to name only a few among many. A graduate of London’s Goldsmith’s College, he has participated in numerous residencies and has won many awards and fellowships, and has had many solo and group exhibitions in venues around the world. I interviewed him via email while the family dog clamored for more attention from me than usual.
1. RZ: What kind of work were you doing in Norway, before Goldsmiths? RO: I returned to Norway from completing my BFA at Coventry University in 1996. When I came back to Oslo I worked for the National College of Art and Design, co-founded Atelier G9 with a group of artists who also studied abroad, and was making performative object based work that was shown in my first solo exhibition in Norway at UKS in Oslo. At the time I believed these works were based in theory. Only later did I realize how sexually suggestive they were. They included acts such as wearing a homemade prosthetic baboonâ€™s ass or creating voyeuristic one-way mirrored screens. My subconscious mind was revealed and future directions for my work were beginning to develop.
2. RZ: What kind of work were you making at Goldmsiths before your graduation? RO: I entered Goldsmiths in 1998 and was making image driven performances that resulted in sequential photographs documenting these performances that I did without an audience. I realized that I wanted my work to speak to a large audience made up of people from different backgrounds and who had different levels of understanding about art. This desire led me to making figurative sculptures made from everyday materials like newspaper and masking tape. I referred to these sculptures as â€œdemocratic sculpturesâ€? because they were visually accessible to anyone. I made both people and animals that were material based but was mainly concerned with the sculptural qualities of figurative works throughout history.
3. RZ: Do you recall the response to your work when it was first shown in New York? RO: My first exhibition in New York was a site-specific project at The Bronx Museum of The Arts in 2001. Looking back, it was really a reaction to moving to America and the culture shock I experienced. I was blown away by the amount of advertising and overabundance of choice in day-to-day tasks. I created an installation based on bodegas throughout all five boroughs. The one commonality I found was that they all sold rice. Rice was a constant in the multi ethnic recipes I came across when talking to shoppers. I collected recipes from people throughout the boroughs and cooked the food to eat on the opening day. There were also sculptures of animals placed within the installation as well. People enjoyed it but did not understand the combination of all of my concerns. Since then, there has been a variety of reactions to my work, from glee to aversion. The sexual imagery in particular seems to evoke some fierce reactions.
When “There’s Something Deep Inside of Me” was first exhibited in Cuchifritos Gallery in New York, a local patron was outraged by the “bestial” content of the sculpture and demanded it be removed from the gallery (this happens quite often). The man was further outraged that this was shown to a visiting school class who defended the sculpture explaining to the
man how the sculpture was a response to the myth of Romulus and Remusâ€™ feral childhood (Romulus is considered the founder of Rome and Western civilization). Most people donâ€™t know that almost all of my work is based on an actual image, event or myth that already exists. I am only responsible for making it into a sculpture.
4. RZ: Are there any artists that you are interested in, either contemporary or in the past, that may have inspired your work?
5. RZ: Your sculptures are very acute in their observation of animal responsiveness. What kind of research do you do for your work?
RO:Absolutely! I am inspired by the timeless sexiness of Michelangeloâ€™s homoerotic sculptures and the cheekiness of Duchamp; I am in awe of the fearless work created by artists like Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, and Martha Rosler; artists that opened up the doors for me to create work that is political by being personal; and I love the work of fellow Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, Leon Golub and Thomas Hirschhorn to mention a few.
RO: I collect an enormous amount of images from books and from various websites. I also study anatomy books to determine muscle and bone structures. Sometimes I will sketch an animal from life if it is possible. It is important for me to have the sculpture reflect the way an animal actually looks at us or responds to its environment. My goal in doing all of this research is not to make the most anatomically correct figure but rather to understand the person or animal as best I can. If I can relate to the subject, then I can better relate to someone looking at the completed sculpture.
6. RZ: How did the MUSEUM OF SEX show in NY come about? RO: Museum of Sex posted a call for sculptors on www.nyfa.org that my partner Jeffrey Gibson encouraged me to submit work to. It was too good to be true! – I had been researching, collecting images and making sculptures on the subject for years; and all the advisers for the show where the courageous pioneering researchers that I had been reading – my idols like Dr. Joan Roughgarden (Biologist at Stanford) who wrote “Evolution’s Rainbow.” It was amazing how overlapping our visions were. “The Sex Lives of Animals” is now a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Sex in New York.
7. RZ: Your recent solo show in San Francisco introduced a new group of imagery consisting of children. What led you from one to the other, and do you see any connections? RO: “The Sex Lives of Animals” somewhat concludes years of research into the diversity of sex and sexual relationships in the animal world that challenges my own relationship to sex, family and societal structures. The new sculptures of children in brat-straps come from a desire to create sculptures of people. When I create animal sculptures – most of us can recognize the general animal, but not necessarily the specifics of this animal’s individuality – they become symbols. Sculptures of people are more specific and the viewer can personify their expressions and individuality – I think this is very animalistic of us – we are predominantly interested in our own species. When I found the images of children in harnesses online they struck a cord in me – there was something absurd and comforting about this image at the same time – it was control and submission yet there is freedom in safety. Strangely (or perhaps not) the sculptures came to being in a time when I have an ambivalent desire for children of my own genetics (is this the reproductive animal in me?) but being gay this is not a simple pleasurable act – I have to consider this desire and make conscious decisions around it! The image also reminded me about observing people and their children at art-openings letting them roam around the art freely – yelling at them if they touch anything, but also wanting them to experience no restraints – I think this is a psychological contradiction; be free and do what you want,
but don’t touch anything – where is the logic in that? I think these conflicting signals can be more damaging than a harness?
8. RZ: I have to ask tiring it must be what do you think gian contemporary
this, as for you: of Norweart?
RO: Iâ€™m happy to say that this question is not so easy to answer. Many Norwegian artists are not making culturally specific work and are working all over the world. I grew up with an understanding of artists working in Norway when there was not so much international attention paid to Norwegian artists. The opportunities have grown over the last decade and the contemporary work being made is reflecting these changes. It has been a very positive thing and I love the community of Norwegians who come through New York and those that live here.
9. RZ: Finally: any advice for anyone from Norway about to go and work abroad? RO: Be brave - ask questions and seek help – don’t try to do everything yourself –– there are a lot of resources out there: artists with remarkable experiences to share, organisations like Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo, NABROAD, Norwegian Artist Abroad and web resources like www.nyfa.org in New York.
RaUl Zamudio is a New Yorkbased independent curator and critic. His most recent exhibitions include co-curator, 2009 Beijing 798 Biennial, and co-curator, 2008 Seoul International Media Art Biennial. In September he will co-curate City Without Walls, 2010 Liverpool Biennial, UK. http://www.raulzamudio.blogspot.com/ http://bit.ly/91qQUE
/olsen/ IMAGES IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: måg front page: The Sex Lives of Animals at Museum of Sex, New York (Permanent) Installation view: Bonobo Exchanging Food for Sex (2008) In the collection of Museum of Sex Image courtesy: Museum of Sex (Igor Khodzinskiy) If only (detail of Tigger) (2010) Installation at Johansson Projects Image courtesy: the artist Portrait of Rune Olsen in studio by Chirs Sanders www.chris-sanders.com Taste’s Like Chix’n (2006) Graphite, masking tape, blue mannequin eyes, newspaper, wire and acrylic medium 140 x 80 x 117 cm In Private Collection Image courtesy: the artist & Samsøn If only (Latrell) (2010) Installation at Johansson Projects Image courtesy: the artist Installation view: Samson Projects, Boston (2007) Image courtesy: the artist & Samsøn Fucking Lions (detail) (2004) Image courtesy: the artist & Samsøn Image credit: Karen Ostrom There’s Something Deep Inside of Me (2005) Graphite on archival masking tape, blue mannequin eyes, newspaper, wire and acrylic medium 115 x 163 x 155 cm Image courtesy: the artist & Samsøn Jealous (2007) Graphite on archival masking tape, blue mannequin eyes, newspaper, plastic, steel, chain, wire and acrylic medium 170 x 170 x 100 cm Image courtesy: the artist & Samsøn The Sex Lives of Animals at Museum of Sex, New York (Permanent) Installation view left to right: Male Dolphin Blowhole Sex (2008,) and Deer Threesome (2008) In the collection of Museum of Sex Image courtesy: Museum of Sex (Igor Khodzinskiy) Hysterics (2009) Graphite, masking tape, blue mannequin eyes, newspaper, wire, steel and UV-Resistant acrylic medium + Butchers Block 145 x 122 x 135 cm In Private Collection Image courtesy: the artist The Sex Lives of Animals at Museum of Sex, New York (Permanent)Installation view: Two Female Bonobos GG-Rubbing (2008) In the collection of Museum of Sex Image courtesy: Museum of Sex (Igor Khodzinskiy) http://www.runeolsen.net/
PLACES OF BELONG By Ruth Barker www.ruthbarker.com
A long time ago, we did not see the world as we do now. The seas and rivers that we know as barriers and divisions were once the points that joined us. We travelled quickly over water, but slowly over land. The map was inverted. Stepping into our boats we connected one place to another, sewing the land that is now Scotland to that which has become Norway with maritime ease. Over the seas we plunged with wooden certitude, trading, talking, making war, so sure that things would never change. Blue or grey or white or green or black; the sea, always changing, never changes.
I had been walking through the city. Now, as I stop, I feel a kind of peace. I don’t know where I am. The sun is hot and high and the buildings are unfamiliar to me. The streetnames are printed in a language that I don’t know. Nothing means anything to me. I have no history here, and no expectations. As I walk on, I have no reason to choose one direction over another, and so the decisions I make are arbitrary. Every so often I take a photograph of something that I don’t understand – a wire rack with a photograph of a man tied to the top of it; a flight of small stairs that lead into a wall with no door; a sign in which a smiley face appears; a cat that doesn’t look like other cats I have seen. ‘Perhaps later’, I think, ‘I will ask someone to explain what I have seen.’ But even as I think it, I knew that I will not. I will keep my unknowing-ness safe, like a small stone preserved from understanding. I will show my photograph only to my friends at home, who will laugh and not know the answers.
At night, in the restaurant, there are no tables set for one. To the waiter who greets me, I say: ‘I don’t have a booking, but can you do a table for one?’ ‘Sure,’ he says, and he shows me to a place in the corner, pulling out a chair opposite a window that looks out onto the street. The table is laid for two. ‘It’s just a small table anyway,’ he says (unnecessarily) as he clears away one glass, one knife, one fork, and one red napkin. He asks me some small questions and I answer them. He goes away, comes back, and fills my glass with wine. He goes away again.
I have a book in my bag, but I don’t take it out. Instead I look out of the window. Outside it is dark, and I can watch men and women walking past me. Some of them walk on this side of the street, and some of them walk on the other. Some walk right to left, which I think of as down. Some walk left to right, which I think of as up. Directly opposite me on the other side of the road, which isn’t busy with traffic, is a streetlamp dropping white light onto the pavement. The lamp has been designed to imitate a gaslight, with a black-capped glass rhombus framing a single clear bulb on top of an embellished black post. On my side of the road yellow light from the restaurant lies across the pavement in certain blocks. The dual effect of these separate points of illumination is that anyone walking up or down the street, on either side, appears at the edge of my frame in darkness. They then pass into a defined light (either white or yellow depending on which side of the road they are on), and then pass back into darkness as they leave my area of sight. Dark, light dark; they are illuminated as though their passage were something significant.
Dark, light, dark. Dark, light, dark. I’m looking out onto a main city street. It’s not a city I know. And I wanted to eat before I returned to my small hotel so I came here, to the restaurant, which has no tables set for one. I am aware that I am a small curiosity here. The waiter is curious. Will anyone be joining me later? I tell him No. He inclines his head and moves away. He passes me the menu, and he stands while I read it. He expects me to choose quickly (because I am alone?). I choose quickly (because I am alone). The waiter goes away again. He has a grey apron, with understated red piping. I look out of the window. Dark, light, dark. Dark, light dark. If I change the focus of my eyes, I can watch the reflection in the glass, rather than the view. Everywhere are twos and fours and behind me a six, of diners. The six speak loudly, happily, warmly in one another’s company. They are four women and two men. They swap stories, saying, ‘No, no, that was Francis!’ And, ‘Can you believe it?!’ To my right there is a table of four;
two men and two women. All four are discrete, and quiet. The conversation is caged and circumspect. Perhaps these four people do not know each other well. Perhaps they know each other so well that they do not need to say much. Further to my right, two tables away, is a couple. They talk quickly. They are low and animated. They make loving gestures with their hands, and they move their feet as they speak. Sometimes they laugh, but privately, and only for each other. My food arrives. Dark, light, dark.
As I eat, the table of four takes turns to look at me. The man and woman with their backs to me, each in turn, turn their heads to see me. The man and woman who are already facing me duck their gaze past their own companions to take a look. I watch them in their glass reflections. I do not think that they see me watching them watching me. I wonder why they are so curious. I suppose it must be because I am alone in a city that I don’t know. (How do they know that I am a nomad in this night-time city? Perhaps it is the way I am dressed, or the colour of my skin). They look. I watch. We are mildly interested in each other.
I often travel alone, and so (because one must eat, after all) I often eat alone. I am happy in my own company. I am rarely lonely. I have learnt that there are some places where it is acceptable, expected even, to be alone in public. There are other places, such as this restaurant, in this city, on this night, where it is not expected. There are no tables set for one in the restaurant. I feel a little as though I am taking up space. The restaurant is busy now, and there are people (twos, fours, sixes) waiting to be seated. I have finished eating. My wine glass is empty. I ask the waiter for a mint tea. He says, ‘Fresh mint or peppermint?’ I think about it for a moment. ‘Fresh mint please,’ I tell him. He brings my tea in a glass and I wait for it to cool, looking out of the window. Dark, light dark. I realise that I did not notice the taste of my food as much as I would have if my husband were here. The meal, also, did not last as long, because I could not accompany it with conversation.
I wonder if the taste of food is partly conjured through conversation, since it seems to disappear to me when conversation is absent. I wonder if the looking / watching exchange might be a kind of conversation in lieu. Perhaps. I wonder absently, if this lack on conversation turns the restaurant, for me, into a space rather than a place. I feel an exile at my small table. Separate from the rest, and placeless.
My tea is almost finished, and the fresh mint leaves are at the bottom of the glass. The waiter is serving the table of four, and I catch his eye to say Can I get the bill please? I say it silently because he is with the other customers, even though he is looking at me. But he nods and goes away, returning with the bill and a card machine. I wonder, How did he knew I would pay with a card? As we wait for the payment to go through the waiter says, ‘Is it business, or could you not be bothered cooking?’ ‘Business,’ I say, smiling. And then, ‘I’m not that lazy.’ And I smile again so that he knows that I’m joking. He says, ‘I would be [too lazy to cook] if I didn’t get meals here every night.’ There’s nothing I can think to say to this, so I notice that the machine says Payment Approved Please Remove Your Card, and I do. I put on my coat and I leave to restaurant. I walk up the street, past the restaurant’s windows, looking at the table of four as I pass and thinking dark, light, dark. Tomorrow I will go home.
The importance of place is as rooted to our minds as it is tied to our tongues. We say ‘in the first place’, to establish the prescience of an idea. We feel out of place, and it is unpleasant. We put someone in their place when we feel that they have transgressed it. ‘I just can’t place it’ we say, and it frustrates us; out of reach yet tangible.
Place and space, as we know, are different. And yet how can we tell one from the other? Spaces are physical; places are emotional. Spaces have contours; places have associations. Spaces are wholly outside us; places are partly inside us. Spaces have an implied abandonment; places have an implied investment. Spaces are meaningless; places are meaningful. Spaces are anonymous, places are distinctive. Is this true? But then why do I like so much to walk in a city that I donâ€™t know, for the first time?
The Last Place. Here and now, I love you. Where are you? I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. I keep moving, and so do you. We are nomads, but located; wrapping up the language of the unfamiliar. Goodbye, I wave. Goodbye.
THIRD SPACE By Curator Pavla Alchin The Imagination; that is, the way we shape and use the world, indeed the way we see the world, has geographical boundaries like islands, continents, and countries. These boundaries can be crossed. Guy Davenport At the beginning of the 21st century, the Earth has been changed by globalization into a planet of nomads. It is hardly surprising that among the recent waves of immigrants are thousands of visual artists - history after all, is littered with creative people on the move. In the past the reasons for their exile where varied â€“ persecution, a search for the exotic, from the need to survive to the need to be at a place of artistic innovation. Today many of these reasons remain the same. However, I would like to suggest here another reason why artists find living abroad appealing. According to Czech born philosopher Vilem Flusser, exile and creativity are closely linked. In exile everything around us is new and becomes sharp and noisy. Uprooted people have to be creative to process an ocean of chaotic information that surrounds them, to change it into meaningful messages (1). It is perhaps this heightened state of perception that attracts creative minds. The title of our project was borrowed from postcolonial scholar Homi K. Bhabha who first foregrounded the concept of Third Space in his book The Location of Culture (1994). Bhabha sees the Third Space as a space of enunciation, where two social groups with different cultural traditions carry out special negotiations, which eventually lead to a displacement of the members of both groups from their origins. However, it is also supposed to bring about common identity, new in its hybridity (2). Taking the above ideas as a kind of springboard, our project wishes to focus on artists who have decided to make this leap of faith in making their home in homelessness (3) and as a result are benefiting from a similar crosspollination of cultures.
1&3 from V. Flusser Writings, 2002. 2 from K. Ikas and G. Wagner, Communicating in the Third Space,2009.
15. June- 14. July 2010 Production, Concept & Coordination by NABROAD. Curated by Pavla Alchin. Hosted by II Baltic Biennale for Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA Artists: Trine Lise Nedreaas/ Mariken Kramer/ Ivar Smedstad/ Heidi C Morstang/ Margarida Paiva/ Mattias HĂ¤renstam
HEIDI C MORSTAN
NG By m책g
HEIDI C Morstang is a Norwegian artist who lives and works in Plymouth, UK. She works with photography and moving image installations. Her work deals with perceptions of transitional spaces, crossing boundaries within the land and â€˜inbetweenâ€™ states of being. She often refers to literature for further investigation into landscapes and their boundaries. Her work is rooted in the physical, and she is especially interested in the social, cultural, mythological and archaeological stories and histories embedded in landscapes, and the use of images to explore and gain insight to them and the often subtle relationships between them. She has exhibited widely internationally, and is also a lecturer in photography at the University of Plymouth, UK, where she is a member of the Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group. Land/Water and the Visual Arts consists of artists, writers and curators who embrace a diversity of creative and critical practices. As a research group it operates as a forum for interrogation of nature and culture, aesthetics and representation. Questioning imagery and practices relating to land, landscape and place is central to their ethos. As artists, writers, curators they work individually explor-
ing space and place as a point of departure for experimenting in new modes of communication through picturing. The group generates work that addresses a range of issues. These include environmental change, sustainability, journey, site and regional specificity.
1) MĂ…G: As an artist one is also a researcher, how much of your artistic practice is dedicated to research? Do you define your work as a product of research or research itself?
HCM: Research is very much part of my artistic practice. It underpins ideas, from initial concepts to technical and aesthetic resolutions but most importantly, the subject I am working with. The work is a product of research to a certain extent, but also it is research itself as the artistic practice. It is a journey based upon questions and curiosity.
Without research to inform the work, it is difficult to progress. Exploring an area of interest and fascination allows for unexpected results. I think that is the most intriguing aspect of artistic research â€“ when you start investigating, the more you look into an area, the more discoveries you make. I suppose that is the basis for any artistic mind.
2) MĂ…G: How does being part of a research group feed in to your own practise?
HCM: Being part of an active research environment is stimulating because the
other researchers engage in dialogue. Being part of a network allows for support, dialogue, questioning and searching. Our research group (Land/ Water and the visual arts research group at the University of Plymouth) meet every fortnight to discuss work-in-progress and research projects, as well as organising exhi bitions, symposiums and conferences. The group has brought support and challenged ideas that
have allowed me to develop my practice further. The group consists of artists and writers of several disciplines, and this has allowed for a broader approach to artistic practice, a different way of seeing perhaps. Also, the other members are highly respected and experienced practitioners in their fields. I continue to learn from them and this is invaluable to my own practice.
3) MĂ…G: You recently shot new work in the Russian wilderness whilst staying alone in a tent, how does this unfamiliar setting impact on your work? HCM: Well, I was not exactly alone in Russia, but took part in an expedition to Karelia in Northern Russia, close to the Arctic Circle. We were camping in the wilderness, and I was quite apprehensive about possible challenges before I left such as the wilderness itself (!), lack of electricity for film equipment, bears (!), losing digital material before I could get it into the computer ready to editing etc. When we arrived, I felt strangely at home in the landscape as it reminded me so much of the area I come from in Norway. We were there for one week in June, around Mid-summer, and we experienced the white nights, which allowed us to film 24 hour cycles. The experience itself has been profound on many levels as I worked through several challenges in order to realise the work. It is the first time I worked with a translator (Russian / English), and the journey itself was long in order to reach the destination. Most of all, it is the subject itself that has been challenging to work with, as it deals with a painful part of history. The film and photographic series is made in collaboration with other researchers from the University of Bergen, The Falstad Centre in Norway, Russian historians involved in the work, as well as a cinematographer. Working with other researchers from other disciplines has brought another dimension to my practice, something I would like to develop further. The film investigates an area of Karelia on the Russian/Finnish border, where, in 1944, an incident occurred that left a scar on the landscape and the psyche on both sides of the invisible line. Ninety-nine Norwegian soldiers serving voluntarily in an SS unit of the German army were killed and left, unburied and without identification. Some, but not all of the remains of the soldiers, were removed to storage in 2008, pending identification as part of a project of closure led by the University of Bergen. In Transit explores, analyses and represents through film and photography, the physical, psychological and emotional landscapes that the incident and its legacy occupies. Specific, graphic and shocking in itself, the incident raises larger issues, including the effects that such an incident has on families and communities: deep, divisive and persistent.
/FEATURE / /morstang/
The impact this continues to have on the lives of the living, including the complex relationship to the landscape that remains, will always be, a silent witness yet a constant reminder. The many facets of the atrocity raise many complex and difficult issues, which are, neither unique nor confined to history. The chemistry of the issue (age, rage, outrage, loss, culture, identity, atrocity, enmity, pride) is such that ‘closure’ is probably unfathomable, distinctive to the different nations involved, and unique to individuals. Art has - could have, must have - a unique role in illuminating the dark in such places. The topography of the Karelian landscape was investigated through moving image, sound-recordings and photography during an eight-day journey, around 25th/26th June - the anniversary of the attack. The unique quality of light in the area at this time of year (‘white nights’ of midsummer) was explored as an element in the attack itself, and an evocative, permanent presence and an essential, vital part of the physical and emotional landscape of the event. Scars on the physical landscape was filmed, including the effects of grenade explosions in the dense forests, vestiges of bunkers and trenches and the road built by the Soviet troops to reach the battalion, as well as the excavation of twelve soldiers left in the landscape. I am investigating how the landscape shaped the event itself, where the soldiers fought and fell, and the bodies have been exposed for 64 years. I use film and photography in this project, where the specifics of place and landscape are a haunting and compelling aspect of the story and its significance.
/morstang/ 4) MÅG: What are the most important issues you are challengenging within your work? HCM: Crossing boundaries and tensions regarding this. Boundaries have so many facets such as physical, psychological, political, historical and metaphorical. Living in a time where mass movement of people is part of our culture has a big impact on my work. Where and how boundaries and borders are defined is a constant fascination, and has underpinned my work for the last fifteen years. Landscape often provides a starting point to explore these issues further. 5) MÅG: There is a simplicity within your work; a focus and a clear technical method that defines them as individual works but also part of a larger body of work. What is your method when shooting new work? HCM: Although I work with moving image, I also work with photography and feel a strong resonance with the still image. Time, and being allowed time, for looking at a still image underpins all works. I often search for a specific frame in order to allow a certain ‘drama’ to unfold within that frame, whether it is in a photographic still image or in a moving image. Until working on the film In transit (the Russian film), I have consistently used the term ‘moving image’ about my works as it has been the crossing boundaries between still and moving I have wanted to explore. There is also the landscape and light I am looking for when searching for a frame that influences the method.
Although there might be certain simplicity in the images, there are also underlying tensions that I am trying to convey, both through images and soundwork. It is the subject and initial idea that drives each work to its completion, and I have strong ideas of certain technical methods to use when starting a project. It is always the idea that determines what medium to work with. The moving image Divers (2001) became a key work in developing both still and moving image, allowing time to unfold the drama within one frame. Although Divers features people (two male teenagers), the concept of working with the moving image and landscape started with this piece, even though the landscape itself is not dominant in the piece.
6) MÅG: In the works Brand and A Dolls House you refer to Ibsen. Tell us when you started becoming interested in Ibsen and how this has effected your work.
HCM: My moving images of A Doll’s House (2004) and Brand (2008), explore how landscape is used as metaphor in Ibsen’s work. The moving images investigate changing boundaries of landscapes, in particular winter landscapes where snow and ice constantly change the land and what lies beneath the surface is only revealed when the snow has melted. As the works were inspired by Ibsen’s texts,
the investigation lies within the use of landscape in a play and how landscape itself performs the drama. In order to investigate this, my work focuses on the landscape itself; people do not appear. When I started reading A Doll’s House, I became fascinated by the
exterior winter landscape that is described through the characters. Also, the various doors in the play became a main focus as of not being able to see what happened behind these doors. I then ‘translated’ Ibsen’s interiors to an exterior winter landscape, as if looking out through a window. In the verse drama Brand, Ibsen portrays landscape as central elements in order to symbolize the different characters and Brands’ choices. I was immediately intrigued by the character because of his idealistic spirit, but more so the dramatic landscape descriptions themselves. I decided to try finding Ibsen’s landscape from where he drew his inspiration. Some of these descriptions, I felt I knew after previous trips to the mountains in the south of Norway as well as through paintings. This mountainous area, Jotunheimen, has been depicted in literature, painting, theatre and folklore from approximately 1840 - 1855 in order to promote Norwegian nationalism, as the search for national independence grew stronger. Norwegian artists started to portray the enormous landscapes, in particular, landscape paintings of these mountains were depicted as high, majestic landscapes that were unique: this was utilized as a tool for promoting a search for national independence. Curiously, the majority of the artists who painted these mountain scenes resided abroad, in particular Germany as they had studied and worked there
(for example J.C. Dahl, Hans Gude and Thomas Fearnley). Perhaps their physical absence in periods of their production phase made it possible to view the landscape with a more imaginary mind, or perhaps they were able to work with nationalism by being abroad. As part of research in the pre-production process, I came across an article by Branislav Jakovljevic (2003) titled From Brand to Pillars of Society – Ibsen and the French Geographical Movement. He discusses the use of landscape imagery in Ibsen’s’ work, and this text opened up a new avenue in developing the work. He writes that in Ibsen’s early dramas, landscape plays a prominent active role, almost in the foreground of the action itself. The landscape itself interacts with the protagonist Brand and determines the overall movement of the drama. He writes that ‘It begins at the height of the glacier, then plunges downwards to the surface of the sea, only to ascend again to the mountain peak. The topographical feature of the fjord facilitates this movement in landscape. It provides not only the visual background to dramatic action, but from the very outset figures as a dramatic agent’ (Jakovljevic, 2003, p. 2) When reading the text, the presence of the landscape appears overwhelming and forceful. This was one aspect that lent itself naturally for further investigation in a moving image, and these powerful landscapes were to be
searched for. As nature itself is part of the play, I decided to work entirely with landscapes in the moving image and exclude any figures as characters, in order to focus upon landscape as a performer. Ibsen’s work and other literature have had a real impact on my work, a source of inspiration for developing new work, where I continue to look into how landscape affects the human being, and where landscape itself is the main ‘performer’.
7) MÅG: You are a Norwegian artist whose work is more known abroad than at home. How has this come about and how does this influence you as an artist? HCM: I have had more approaches to exhibit work internationally and have had commissions abroad. As I came to the UK in 1996 to study photography, I stayed on as I established contacts here and in Europe. As I have had offers abroad, I have not been as active in establishing contacts within the Norwegian art scene as I would have liked to, perhaps to do with practicalities of travelling and time. Ideally, I would do more work in Norway as well as expanding my international contacts. To establish professional contacts in Norway such as working with an interesting gallery or exhibition opportunities would be interesting.
8) MÅG: Your work very often looks as if it has been shot in Norway although this is not always the case, is it a conscious decision to create this ambiguous relationship or is this irrelevant? HCM: Yes, I produce a lot of work in Norway, and this is very important to me. It is a paradox that I see the landscape differently as I am distant from it. The physical distance offers a different view, at least for me. I have a strong connection to the landscape where I grew up, and when I visit, the place inspires me. However, I do not attempt to ‘portray’ a Norwegian landscape, and the work is often about underlying dangers of crossing boundaries. Although the landscape inspires me and I work well there, it is not about Norway. It could be anywhere, but happens to be produced in a place I enjoy working. One photographic series, Chapters, is continually developing as I am photographing and re-photographing the same area every time I visit Norway: the lake and the forest where I grew up. I have done this for the past eight years, and each time it appears seemingly similar but subtle changes appear. The series is developing with time but also within myself. However, I also make work in other countries and at the moment I am developing a moving image in Cornwall, UK, in collaboration with an environmental scientist.
9) MĂ…G: You are also British as you live and work in the UK. Many artists who decide to leave Norway make sure they have a foot left in Norway, not only to take advantage of the funding structures but also to keep in touch with the Norwegian art scene. Do you think that as a Norwegian artist abroad you should have access to the same funding- opportunities as those who live in Norway? Or are you influenced by the British attitude that one should as an artist, become part of a growing, expanding cultural economy and society through educational and cultural organisations? HCM: It is important to be able to cross boundaries to expand our cultures. I am Norwegian but live in the UK. However, I also produce a lot of work in Norway that I later exhibit abroad. Artists are part of an international culture where art is able to reach audiences outside national borders. That is a richness we need to protect in order to increase cultural understanding and development of culture. Art offers a different language that allows for critical thinking therefore it has a value that needs to be protected.
I think funding should support works that allow for this development in culture. Funding schemes should not operate exclusively within certain national boundaries. For example, the EU offers trans-national funding schemes that allow for exchange of ideas and development of work etc. If funding is restricted to a limited area, strong ideas could then suffer within a bureaucratic system that does not appreciate the value of a broader perspective. Norwegian artists living abroad bring valuable knowledge and experience to both Norway and their residing county, and if their works could be developed with Norwegian support it would be even better. I think a combination of accessing funding both from Norway and through international educational and cultural organisations is very important. For example, in the UK, we cannot solely rely on one funding body, as most funding bodies require match funding from other organisations. This also offers an expanding network and possibilities. However, I also think it is important for artists living in Norway to have the same opportunities for seeking funding abroad. Movement and transfer of knowledge is a key to development of our cultures.
/morstang/ IMAGES IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Brand Still film, Image
(2008) image from moving image. S16mm 13 mins. DVD. Projection. courtesy: the artist
Chapters (2007) C-type photograph mounted, 120 cm x 120 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Ana Vilaseco. Chapters (2007) C-type photograph, 120 cm x 120 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Ana Vilaseco. Chapters (2007) C-type photograph, 120 cm x 120 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Ana Vilaseco. Chapters (2007) C-type photograph, 125 cm x 125 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Ana Vilaseco. Divers (2001) Still images from moving image. Digital video on DVD. 5 mins. Projection. Courtesy: the artist Chapters (2007) C-type photograph, 120 cm x 120 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Ana Vilaseco. In between (2001) Still image from moving image installation. 5 mins. Looped DVD. Projection. Courtesy: the artist. In between (2001) Still image from moving image installation. 5 mins. Looped DVD. Projection. Courtesy: the artist. http://www.hcmorstang.co.uk/
RODNEY POINT ,
this is art in transit | www.rodneypoint.com | rodney point , gallery
/skauen/ Martin Skauen, born 1975 Norway. Martin lives and works in Berlin, he was educated at the National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo, 2002. Recent exhibitions include; The 3rd Moscow Biennale, (curated by Jean-Hubert Martin), Astrup Fearnley Museum, (Lights On), Laura Bartlett Gallery (London), Nicodim Gallery (L.A.), Galleri MGM (Oslo), 1st Athens Biennale. Frankfurter Kunstverein (Whenever it starts it’s the right time), Gothenburg Kunsthall (Tomorrow Always Belongs To Us). Using an iconology whose origin can be traced both to the visionary compositions of the Flemish Renaissance and Hieronymus Bosch and the illustrations of the libertarian literature and contemporary sadomasochistic comics, Martin Skauen organises groups of figures which combine the apocalyptic nightmare with subversive sarcasm, orgiastic eroticism with unsettling violence, primal impulses with contemporary instability. http://www.martinskauen.com/ All images: By Martin Skauen,
Exhibitions 2010 Laura Bartlett Gallery Soloshow, London, UK, Dec. 2010 Galleri MGM Soloshow, Oslo, Norway, Oct.2010 Sammlung Falckenberg, Pamphile Show, Groupshow, Curated by Günter Reski, Hamburg, Sept. 2010. Luis Adelantado, Call 2010 Groupshow, Valencia, Spain, Sept 2010 Soho House Berlin (Collection) Grouphsow, Berlin, Open from May 2010. Forgotten Bar, The Show Groupshow, Berlin, Germany, May, 2010 Grimmusem Tegneklubben, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 2010 Tegnebiennalen, (The Drawing Biennale) Curated by Susanne Altmann & Stefan Schröder, Moss, Norway, May 1 – June 13, 2010 The Stenersen Museum, Norwegian Surrealism 1930-2010
BATTIR Artist Residency, Battir, Palestine
By Amina Bech
- In Palestine The first thing that troubles the eye upon entering Palestine is the disruption of the landscape. What you see is far from the heavily discussed planned creation of a bi-national state. The landscape reveals that the Israeli occupation is first and foremost about undoing geography. What you see is the disruption of peace. I’m currently in Artist Residence at the Decolonizing Architecture (DA) project in Battir, Palestine, investigating the urban fabric and landscape of the village of Battir. Looking at “legal mechanisms from a spatial perspective, the project moves between the examination of geopolitical models and the analysis of concrete case studies in an attempt to promote critical reflections on the paradigmatic characteristics of the Palestinian territory”. (Ref. http://www.decolonizing.ps) The research will generate a final project that is scheduled for a public exhibition in Oslo, Norway, at 0047 in September 2010, and later in Los Angeles. I am working closely with the UNESCO and Battir Landscape Office. BATTIR Battir is a small ancient village located in the West Bank, five kilometers west of Bethlehem, and east of Jerusalem. It sits just above a railway line, once Battir’s lifeline to Jerusalem during the Ottoman Empire period. The West Bank has been occupied since 1967, but Battir was affected also in 1948, because of the proximity to the border. One of the things that affected the village the most was hat the railway was closed. It has served as the armistice line, or so called green line since 1949. What is interesting is that in Battir, this is not an exceptional case of re-appropriation of the line or the space, which is defined by a geopolitical order. The green line was put near the railway, but through political agreement, the inhabitants managed to stay within the space of the line and even keep access to the space beyond; their cultivated fields that landed on the Israeli side of the constructed line. The railway itself is today in use by Israeli citizens going between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the train passes the demolished Battir station. The train trip
that could have brought us from Tel Aviv to Battir in 20 minutes is re-placed with a 2-3 bus journey. In conjunction with the Oslo agreement, the landscape of Battir was again transformed. More settlements were built, and then more settler roads. Several roads that connected Palestinian villages, were closed by checkpoints and roadblocks. Today Battir is surrounded on one side by the green line and on the other by two settlements: Betar Illit (a 35.000 settler’s colony) and Al Walaja. If the settlements continue to expand at their current rate, (and according to the Jerusalem master plan, they will soon merge), it will further isolate and enclave Battir. Some people fear for something more definitive - that Battir may not even exist next year. The big concern now is the construction of the Israeli West Bank Barrier. It is supposed to reach Battir in November this year. This is people that for just sixty years ago were able to make the best out of what the land could give back, and prosper from it as well. Palestine was a well for producing olive oil, oranges, grapefruits and lemons. Also a significant amount of grapevines were cultivated in the area. On the hillsides there are stonewalls, springs and terraces that once were used for agro-cultural activities. For this reason Battir and the nearest villages, Al Walajah, Wadi Fukin and Nahalin, were called “the basket of Jerusalem”. Today, land surrounding these villages has been confiscated and regulated by different Israeli practices. The cultural landscape and historical activities related to these sites, stand in great contrast to the gross exploitation that one can see today.
Freedom of movement What has made a deep impression upon me is the everyday discrimination against Palestinians. A kind of quiet separation that affects their daily life, how they can or cannot move freely within the territory. DA did an interesting experiment on this. With a camera, they followed an Israel Taxi driver going from Hebron to a point close to Nablus. The trip took 1 hour and 5 minutes. The day after they followed a Palestinian driver. Now the trip lasted 5 hours and 20 minutes, this due to the many checkpoints the Palestinian driver was forced to pass. Close to Battir you will find another issue: a road built by US funds (on Palestinian territory), but indirectly restricted to Israelis. Palestinians may use the road, but as the only location in which they (as Palestinians) may enter is Bethlehem, apartheid here is somehow masked. The settler road means simply that it is a much longer journey before reaching Bethlehem. This pushes them to use the gravel road and the tunnel that is going under the wall of separation. A permission to asphalt this road has been denied because of “security reasons”, which is the frequent answer from Israel regarding applications in C. Palestinians wanting to asphalt a road (or build in general, in C) must undergo prolonged, complicated, and expensive procedures, which generally results in denial of the applications. This forces Palestinians to build and asphalt without permission. Simple actions to resist this (and build anyway), is for them a peaceful way to resist
occupation. Close to this road youâ€™ll find a house that has been demolished three times. The owner says he will continue re-building it till the day he leaves this planet. Following the railway, it is actually possible to walk to Jerusalem without having to pass through a checkpoint. Late evenings we may see Israeli guards inspect the line and the area around â€“ searching with flashlights between the trees. Because of the occupation, unemployment is a problem in Battir as well as the rest of the West bank, so some people walk for hours along the line during nighttime, to Jerusalem for work. The enormous paradox
in all this is the fact that Jewish people from all around the world can settle down in the Palestinian territory, and move about freely, but the people who lived there before them, as well as now, cannot. The Oslo accord divided the West Bank and Gaza into three areas, each with distinctive borders and rules for administration and security controls: Area A, B and C. Battir lies mainly in C, but a part of it also in B. through DA we are focusing on the relationship between space and law in C - the area that remains under complete military and administrative Israeli control (which means 62% is part of the West-
Bank). While it is extremely hard for Palestinians to obtain building permits, settlements continue to grow rapidly - despite the fact that they are illegal in terms of international law (Article 49, fourth Geneva Convention). On the other side Israeli lawyers are using the law to their own advantage. They are subverting the law, and are also designing violence through the law. The law is not anti war, it is just showing you how to justify your violence. So, why the continuing work on the A, B and C areas? It is still operating one way or another. The essence of the Oslo accord permits a continuing occupation.
The Red Castle “The Red Castle”, is being build by a well-heeled Palestinian, who currently lives in Los Angeles, US. The projected image of “Castle” and “successful Palestinian” contains intriguing elements that do not fit with the image we normally are provided with regarding Palestinians today - what might also provoke some settlers. The reinforcement of Palestinian traditional identity as poor peasants goes hand-in-hand with the production of a juxtaposed Jewish identity – that is successful and modern.
An analogy of the situation is this; the owner of the castle contacted an Iraqi architect, to design his holiday paradise; a huge castle with a garden filled with strange birds, spectacular plants - and a giraffe… to put it differently: a “C” version of Michael Jacksons “Neverland”. They decided for a location that was suggested by the Village Council, according to a map that differs from the map of the Civil Administration. On this map the location was ten meters out of area B, in area C, but according to the map of the village council the red castle is only very close to the line. We do not know clearly if they decided on this location in order to play a little bit with the Area C line, but as expected, the castle very soon came under pressure - through an association of settlers called Regavim (which calls themselves “a political movement dedicated to preserve state lands and national land resources”). They claim now that the castle has to be demolished. The argument they use is the US demanded settlement freeze on the West Bank, and that the freeze order also must be practiced on the (occupied) Palestinians. Regavim even use the term “human rights” to justify their claim. There is now a trial going on, regarding the demolition order. Through Decolonizing Architecture, looking at this extreme case is one way of understanding the A, B and C regime. Understanding what the impact is and what the possibilities are in operating inside and outside of this political space. What has to be clear is that the Oslo accord was not a peace agreement, as some Norwegians still like to put it, it was an agreement between an occupier and an occupied population. The division between the areas was supposed to be temporary, and as far as the law of occupation is concerned, they are obsolete (1999). But everybody who knows the Israeli way of occupation over the past 40 years knows that nothing is more permanent than the temporary. This should have been a warning signal for the negotiators, but unfortunately they didn’t pay any attention to it. They thought that this was a new period, a new era, and that both sides stretched towards one accepted goal - which was a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. But as we know there is no such thing, not even as a statement in the Oslo agreement. In terms of international law the Oslo accord itself is illegal. “C” is just as occupied as “B”, there is absolutely no difference, and that is the core in the understanding that this in fact shouldn’t exist. We can further say that the Green line is problematic,
but thatâ€™s another legal discourse. For me personally, visiting Palestine has put a distance between the stories I grew up with about the area, and the reality I have found upon coming here, finding that most of what I was told did not hold true. To experience the kindness of the local people, and their hospitality as well as their joy of life and deep humor, has been a real eye opener. And most of all, getting to know people, hearing their stories, and being invited into their lives.
After Eyal Weizmans lecture at DA, titled â€œForensic Architectureâ€?, what comes to my mind is the very sad and hopeless feeling that the debate in this country should focus on the forensic instead of living architecture. This discourse focuses on a sort of aftermath, but when (if) the hope is already killed: are we performing forensics of hope? I think we should open a discussion on the possibilities that this country has to go back to a medicine that is active, instead of analyzing the reasons of death. The room left for action is shrinking every day.
”It’s the one that is in the position of power, that is in the position for peace. We (Palestinians) don’t have that power, and Israel doesn’t want peace. They only want a bigger Israel. The security wall is a wall to secure occupation. It’s a wall to secure more land”, -an old man I met one day in Battir, told me.
/battir/ bech/ BATTIR Text and Images by Amina Bech, during her Artist Residency August 2010, Battir, Palestine © 2010 Amina Bech is a Norwegian artist who currently lives and works in Kreuzberg, Berlin. She works with photography based art, video and performance. Bech has previously been part of the performance groups “The Hungry Hearts” and “Always Lulu”. Amina Bech has a background in scenography / new media. Her photographs often relates to a scenographic approach. She aims to use the means of set and stage production to modulate communication - whether in exhibition projects, on stage, in real urban space or in the non-space entity of cyberspace. She often merges traditional photographic techniques, staged sets and digital methods, often combining multiple images or other media. http://aminabech.net AREA D: is a political dialogue/discourse through art & action in Palestine - post Oslo http://thebasket.moonfruit.com/
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2012.VIDEOS + .BOOKS .MARKS =6036.WORKS 2012=6036.WORKS is a movement, a collection and a travelling exhibition. 6036 works from artists and individuals all over the world will become part of the 6036. WORKS- Collection that maps thoughts and ideas in the period of 20112012. The Collection will be free on-loan to public and private museums and galleries wishing to exhibit the 6036.WORKS.
6036.WORKS- Collection will also be published as a Catalogue and will be a documentation of all works in the collection.
SUBMISSIONS OPEN 1. JANUARY 2011 AND IS PUBLISHED ON: w: http://www.nabroad.org/ e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Unpredictability Is Important, By Agnes Nedregård I am interested in unpredictability. Unpredictability in the creative process is essential. My practice is a search, I am constantly, obsessively, looking for something – what, I do not know – if I ever get close to finding out what it might be that I am looking for, I will feel thoroughly fulfilled in my life as an artist. So, I start with myself. I work with my body, my experiences, and my viewpoint, what the world looks like through my eyes, how it feels like through my body, through my senses. Vertigo is to the body what chance is to the mind – Roger Caillios I am interested in the unpredictability of life. All that is alive has a degree of unpredictability, people are unpredictable. You never what they might do. In my practice as a performance artist, this is the key point from
where I look at my art form. No other art form gives such an opportunity to explore the unpredictability in meetings between human beings, in a live setting. Even though, when I perform, I “conduct” this meeting, so to speak, I always make space for the situation to unfold beyond my immediate control. To me, the ability to deal with such a situation, to let it unfold, to “go with it”, and let it take form in response to the atmosphere in the room, while still being able to keep a firm grip on the basic idea or concept of the work, that is, to me, the peak of the formal skills of a performance artist.
In the development of the international performance art scene, I am observing what I deem as a sad trend, especially exemplified in New York by MoMA and other museums’ recent interest in the field. The problem arises, when you set out to make performance art “clean” enough to fit into the major institutions: How do you deal with the inherent unpredictability of a performance? What I observe, is that MoMA, Performa and other major actors on this scene, choose to showcase “safe” pieces of work, work that does not threaten to cross the boundaries of predictability and peace of mind for the audience. Any work of a more challenging nature is being staged at a
reassuring distance from the audience, on podiums, behind boxing stage ropes or heavily guarded lines. This has huge implications on the scene as a whole, as the challenging nature of the art form is subdued, leaving us with an amputated form robbed of its most important characteristic. What happened to the live meeting between artist and audience members? Yes, you can go and meet Marina Abramovic now, but the work will never threaten to take any new form due to your presence. I think this story illustrates the potential strength of a real life meeting – also, how we communicate in so many other ways than the words we share and what we see. Why do you get so much more information from me when you sit in the same room as me, rather than if you were looking at my image on a screen – even as a live video transfer?
In this reality we are now faced with, a new virtual dimension in our lives, I think the role of live performance art is even more important than ever before. We are given the opportunity to explore and show what makes a real life, face to face, meeting different from a virtual one – and I think we should take this challenge seriously. To deviate from the point and start making and showing predictable performance art, to satisfy the expectations of museums and art institutions, is a cowardly route to take. First Published; Nordic Tantrum April 2010. Agnes Nedregård is currently the editor of Nordic Tantrum. All images: Agnes Nedregård © 2010
From the work:
When you see me again it wonâ€™t be me All rights reserved Ingvild Kaldal ÂŠ2009
/KALDAL/ ‘When you see me again it won’t be me’ From the exhibition SIGNS AND WONDERS in the Natural History Museum in Gotenburg as a part of the international art biennial of Gothenburg 2009. The work consisted of 30m red theatre fabric mounted 1m over the floor in an oval shape around the elephant in the mammals room. In Greek mythology the color of a red rose represented both growth and decay. It symbolised both the start of life and the nature of death. Rose-red has historically been used to highlight objects of great importance, and in the theatre, drapes of the same color function as a marker for the beginning and the end of a performance. The theatrical curtain also maintains a fictional space for the audience, framing the story in a finite, separate reality. In the museum, staged death – similar in bathos to the Greek tragedy – gives the viewer a satisfaction, in that they can see the linear quality of time in nature. They are comforted by the clarity of life’s trajectory (cause and effect) presented before them, while also being swept up by the grand finale of that narrative in the space of a theater of preservation. The Gothenburg Natural History Museum’s taxidermy elephant, majestically displayed in the Hall of Mammals, is captured in a moment when he is about to lift his feet and walk away from his stage. In this installation, the introduction of a closed ring of red curtains suspends the elephant and his audience in a present where no openings or spectacular endings will occur. INGVILD KALDAL http://www.ingvildkaldal.com/
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anki king Cradle of War By ANKI KING I often think about war. There is always war. I think about why that is, what war is and what it does. I think about how it affects women, how it affects men and how it affects children. I am lacking many answers because I have been lucky enough not to have been personally exposed to war. War still affects me through stories I hear from people I know who have been exposed and it breaks my heart. I wonder why we believe in war, why we find it necessary still and then I see all the unfairness, all the corruption, all the brutality against women, against children and I want to go to war against those who use others, who lack empathy and conscience.
Cradle of War is my way of bringing into physical form my feelings around this, my sadness and my anger. I am an artist, this is what I do; I attempt to make something visible where words fall short. Sometimes the creation is conscious, sometimes unconscious; sometimes it is expressed in two dimensions, sometimes in three. I was thinking about whether we are genetically programmed to war or if we are being taught that war is a natural solution to confrontations when the image of the cradle appeared in my mind and I quickly made a sketch which is almost identical to the complete work. It took about two years to gather all the materials and construct. All the materials are original military equipment, and real toy guns. Toy guns are to me disturbingly scary, I must say I do not understand this idea of “training-guns”. Inside the crib you will see details like a hand-grenade baby bottle and a bullet pacifier. The bedding which is made out of military blankets is lined with military orders and labels with messages like “mess with the best die like the rest”. Cradle of War places the most innocent little child in an environment of materials we connect with war, to situations created by anger and hate, all based on mutual lack of understanding. It presents both the “loosing” and the “winning” child of war; they both learn that war is a part of life. http://www.ankiking.com
Cradle of War 140x92x76 cm Varied Media All rights reserved Anki King ÂŠ2009
JUMANA MANNA 11
The Shabab Series Photography variable dimensions The Shabab project came into being in the summer of 2007, as I was returning to Jerusalem after one year in Norway. The project originated as snap shots of men in different scenarios, inside houses and out in the streets. From then on, I decided to condense the project to parallel series. The first consists of portraits of men lying in their beds. Some of these men I knew well, and others I had met for the first time. For the second series I set out in my car, â€˜cruising aroundâ€™, an act much associated with young men who seem to develop an almost romantic relationship to their cars. Sitting in the driverâ€™s seat, I approached random men through the window and asked to take their photo. http://www.jumanamanna.com/
/GALLERY/JUMANA MANNA/ /manna/
JACK BANGERTE carlos die garcia
/BANGERTER/diego garcia/ MOON PEOPLE The moon people: Dogs on the moon. Men on the moon. Women on the moon. Kids on the moon. The Moon People! The Moon People! -Carlos Diego Garcia
NEW WORK BY JACK BANGERTER & CARLOS DIEGO GARCIA: The sixth video project in eight years by myself and Carlos Diego Garcia. Some may find, and are welcome to find, a story in the stark landscapes and curious wanderers. However, we have purposefully created no story in favor of a simple visual and tactile experience when using the spectacles that you can print out (on the pages 112113). ENJOY! WARNING: MOON PEOPLE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO ENTRANCE.
MOON PEOPLE (click TO OPEN VIDEO) http://www.jackbangerter.net/moonpeople.html
by JACK BANGERTER and CARLOS DIEGO GARCIA © 2010
NEW WORK BY YNGVAR LARSEN: 1 cup for every free tiger on the planet, ca. 3200 handpainted papercups.
The Situation is urgent with as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild. But there is hope and still time for us to turn things around for the woldâ€™s wild tigers. www.worldwildlife.org 11
From the Book of Life YNGVAR LARSEN All rights reserved ÂŠ 2010 http://www.yngvarlarsen.blogspot.com/
‘Mediators’ group exhibition National Museum Warszawa, Poland. By Magnus Bjerk I am exhibiting 8 large scale photographs from the series ‘The Inside Of The Outside Of the Inside’ at the National Museum in Warszawa. The exhibition takes place in a constructed venue in front of the museum consisting of more than 20 transport containers. Some of the photographs are printed directly on acrylic sheets – thus appearing semitransparent and increasing the idea of the border and the tension between the inside/outside and the tangible/non-tangible. This border shifts between being sharp and softer and less dominant. This wavering border corresponds with the dialogue between this new and ‘foreign’ construction housing contemporary art and the old gigantic museum and its collection of older classic art.
The containers in this series have abandoned their role as mere transport vehicles. Their new function is similar to that of a microscope, in the way that it concentrates the viewer’s attention on the centre so that one only sees a very small fraction of what exists outside the container. These containers do however differ very much from a microscope as the perception of the outside is distracted by the colors or reflections that are created by their inside walls.
My intention is to let the animal and people in some of the photographs break up the linear ‘typological’ view. The animal affects this distance between the viewer and the landscape outside, not only as a physical obstacle, but also because the dog is a domesticated animal that is somehow caught between nature and human existence. I am inspired by Doug Aitken’s oeuvre and how he deals with the idea of perception and the division between man/nature/urban environments. The very strict photographic approach I have used is comparable to the typological working method. An interesting quality of this photographic methodology is that no matter what the motif is, the typology can function as a tool for examining and comparing the differences and similarities in ourselves. If we interpret this literally, then the contrast between the interior versus the exterior and the way the container frames our scope can be seen as a comparison to how human perception is constructed or ‘colored’ individually. As the animals and the humans in the containers are looking back at us through the lens, it can be questioned whether it is nature looking back at us or if we are looking back at our own being. (The title is inspired from a collection of poems by Peter Handke.) ’The Inside Of The Outside Of The inside’ is dedicated to Jon Andreas Bjerk 03.04.1975 – 24.12.2004 All images: Magnus Bjerk © 2010 All rights reserved http://www.magnusbjerk.com/
/MARIANNE MORILD / Marianne Morild’s paintings define a place or territory where events can unfold. Our understanding of the forest is many-faceted; from a romantic meeting place to a zone for industrial exploitation or home to dark things; an area of peace and quiet or the site for budding growth and deep psychological urges. Questioning the straightforwardness of these ideas, Morild reconciles within her paintings both the seductiveness of these regions as well as their treacherous nature. Her imaginary spaces, built up through an image library of personal and found photographs, drawings and collages, are rendered in loose, seductive, brush marks, inviting the viewer into a seemingly familiar world, but where an unnamed, brooding tension is palpable. Morild graduated from Chelsea College of Art in 2003 and was short listed for The Rolex Mentor and Protegee Award the same year. Group exhibitions include Awaiting Entrance... at Mme Lillies Gallery 2008, Jealous Editions at Jealous Gallery 2009 and selected for The Threadneedle Exhibition 2009 and most recently showed a selection of paintings at Transition Gallery in May 2010.
Image: “Woodcutter” 2009, oil on wood, 60x60cm Marianne Morild © 2009
/hilde kvivik kavli/
http://www.hildephotography.com/ Dresses by Leila Hafzi Makeup/styling: Hege Frigstad and Victoria WollebĂŚk Model: Aina Regina S. EftestĂ¸ Malene Braaten Sakariassen Image courtesy: the artist
/LETTERS/LONDON/ HOME IS WHERE YOUR FEET ARE By Marianne Morild
UP sticks, set up camp, put down roots, home, heart and castle â€“ the notion of home is beset with proverbs and metaphors. The reality of the migrant experience is probably all of those things in a heady mix; leaving, settling down, transience, longing, reinventing, a life in limbo. So is migration from Norway to Britain that big a deal? It is only across the pond after all, and none of these migrants will normally claim hardship as their reason to seek a new home. And we have a shared culture, historically and politically, so the shock of the new, fresh soil should be minimal. But there are some differences between our two countries, which emphasise the characteristics of both homelands. From my perspective, they are Nature and Politics. To start with Nature, it must be said that from the point of view of a Norwegian migrant, Britain is almost unbearably urbanized. Sure, there are places in Britain that are as rugged as you like, but for the most part, those places are places you have to go to, to actively seek out. In Norway, Nature stares you in the face most of the time, and the Norwegians stare right back at it, pulling their Gore-Tex a little tighter. Migrating is a series of small understandings, learning to navigate through places and social codes, accepting that you are most certainly not in Kansas anymore. It can be hard for a treeloving Norwegian to cope in a landscape where the main navigation points are the subtle differences of the Victorian architecture in a London suburb, or to accept that the BT-telecom
tower must substitute the local mountain as landmark. Living in London, it actually took me a while to work out what it was that was missing from my everyday experience, and only slowly it dawned on me that there was nowhere I could ascend to get a view, apart from buildings, and that although London has many great parks, Hampstead Heath was the closest I could get to vaguely ‘wild’ Nature. For the first couple of years here in London I spent many useful hours getting purposefully lost, walking amongst tall city buildings or pretty terraced houses until I didn’t know where I was, all urban explorer, conquering the perils of rush hour, city suits, beggars and left sided traffic. Coming to live in London from Norway was also migrating in terms of political and social awareness. The Norwegian social democracy is based largely on a desire for equality and the default political setting for the Norwegian mindset is left leaning compared to the British. In Scandinavia the poverty reduction rates, i.e. what the government contributes to the economy to combat poverty in the population is well over 80%. In Britain it is less than 66%. The British home is The Big Social Divider. Apart from accent -which betrays an English person’s social background as soon as she speaks- the biggest social signifier, bigger than education, clothes, job etc., is a person’s home. Fresh in the city I migrated around London homes. I lived in a flat two minutes from Oxford Street, in Vic-
torian houses in the suburbs, in a council flat in Brick Lane. My accent never revealed my social background, only that I probably was not English and therefore not belonging to the class system. As a migrant I have been allowed to move like a chameleon between classes, befriending people as I wish, parroting their accents back to them because I don’t own this language, picking up phrases from parallel cultures- the narrow vowels of the middle classes, the glottal stop of the north London estates, the melody of Jamaican English. As an artist, I am to a certain extent free from being judged in terms of social belonging, because people rarely know what to expect from an artist. Kitted out with slim purses, years of education and a healthy curiosity, artists can migrate within the social structures much more easily than many native people can or would even want to. But then, coming home to Norway presents an entirely new set of challenges in terms of navigating wealth and poverty. Because ten years ago Norway was wealthy. Today, after the paralysing money market crash, practically every other country in Europe has huge budget deficits – but Norway’s democratic management of it’s natural resources combined with human capital accumulation has resulted in an oil trust fund which is intended to protect Norwegian pensions in years to come. Today, Norway is phenomenally wealthy compared to the rest of Europe and this has changed the population’s outlook on things during those ten years. To an ex-pat Norwegian, Norwegian people
seem slightly cocooned in their comfortable bubble of high-spec kitchens, minimal unemployment and an ingrained tendency to call shops stocking exotic foods “migrant-shops”. A Norwegian artist friend who visited me in London told me she found the class-system here somewhat liberating. Aside from the breathtaking poverty, at least everyone weren’t expected to be the same or aspire to the same things, buy the same food or the same sofas. The flip side of the egalitarian society is its suffocating characteristics. The migrants can only hope to bridge the gaps between the two countries in small steps, both in their own minds and in other people’s. A big step in this direction would be if Norway was a borough in London, just so that by some political and environmental osmosis, Norway could view their own place in the world in a more appropriate proportion and Britain’s streets could become lined with fir trees.
1) Rank, Yoon & Herschl 2003, p. 17). 2) http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/1199 Thorvaldur Gylfason, Vox.
/LETTERS/MALMö/ Malmö 19.06.2010 By Ingvild Hovlan Kaldal
THE same day I write a letter for måg from Malmö’s art scene, I was in Gothenburg were I just heard the news that Göteborg’s Konsthall was threatened to close down within the next six months. The helpless feeling and the sad news made me feel glad I had left this sinking ship of a city one year ago. Now back in Malmö, some weeks later I read that the Lillith Performance Studio will be forced to close down. The Lillith Performance Studio has been a unique arena for live performance since 2007. Located at Bragegatan they have presented 6-8 large-scale performances every year. Their concept is to offer both Swedish and international artists a production space and time to develop and create live projects on site. Earlier this year I visited the Lillith Performance Studio when the NY-based artist Genevieve Bellaveau performed as her alter ego Gorgeous Taps. The church of gorgeous Taps and the reality show was a performance built on the set of masses Bellaveau earlier performed in a church created in her backyard in Brooklyn, NY. The visitors entered the studio transformed as the artist’s home and backyard and for 1,5 hour [ 1.5 hours o r 5hours or 15 hours?] we became members of the church society. In one week she performed 9 different ceremonies were she, together with 50 people from Malmö, examined the mass and how we could forge a bond with her. In the same building as the Lillith Performance Studio, Skånes Konstförening and their side proj-
ect, Skånes Scène for live art, is located. The Malmö art academy have their school gallery here, together with the Abandoned gallery, which, like the name suggests, only opens on the opening day, leaving the exhibition to be seen through a glass door for the rest of the period. Here you also find KKV, an 800kvm wood and metal workshop for artists. In Malmö, it is just as usual to see a notice about a studio for rent as notices for missing cats, and Bragegatan is a good example on how one building can house different galleries that bring a wide range of audiences to each space.
exhibited in Malmö before, and every opening brings new visitors that dare to enter the intimate showroom.
Gallery Elastic moved into a new location after sharing space with the Liliith Performance studio and they are now located in the brick house at Monbijougatan. Here you also find another commercial Gallery, Magnus Åkerlund. The two galleries are the first to move into what is an attempt to create a neighbourhood of galleries close to Möllenvången and Folkets park.
Malmö has, over the last year, begun a tradition of artists working with strict conceptual artworks where the sublime can be found in the concept rather than in the work itself.
What separates the art scene in Malmö from other cities in Sweden is how the more established institutions such as Malmö Konsthall and The Academy of Fine Arts work in combination with the independent art scenes and artist-run galleries such as Galleri 21, Signal, and Cirkulationscentralen, not forgetting the huge alternative and underground arenas for art and music. Last year, together with Kim Westerström I started the KIMVILD Showroom, a gallery for site-specific art, which permanently is situated in a home at Ystadsgatan. We show artists who have never
There is a legal Graffiti wall in the centre of Möllevången and the club scene is more experimental than any other city in Sweden. Inkonst is a cultural centre in Malmö featuring music, theatre, dance, performance, film, literature and art all under the same roof. The alternative art scene is just as visible as the established institutions and this has somehow become the signature of Malmö.
The alternative art scene has a more playful attitude than the theoretical and minimal tradition of the Malmö Art academy. Visiting their spring show the impression was of quite strict and repetitive work compared to the attitude that is represented in so many of the other venues in the city. One has to ask how much illusion painting it is it OK to house in one building. A gallery worth visiting is Galleri 21, the oldest artist-run gallery in Malmö and with their 120kvm space and main focus on presenting Nordic artists. Galleri Ping Pong is their smaller and closest neighbour and Malmö’s Konsthall is situated around the corner. As I write Malmö Konsthall is showing Pascale Marthine Tayous’ fantastic installations in what is the first
large solo exhibition of an African artist ever in a Swedish institution. It is impossible not to mention the opening of Moderna Museet last December. They opened with an exhibition of Luc Tuymans in the building that once used to house Rooseum. A gallery that has taken over some of the responsibility from Rooseum is the independent gallery Signal, whose aim is to function as a meeting point between international and local artists. They present exhibitions, artist talks, screenings and curatorial projects were Skånebased artists can leave their portfolios to be looked at by international curators. Last year at the Malmö gallery night they launched the book: A Parallel History, which focus on the independent art arenas in Skåne from 1968-2008. The independent venues are what makes the Malmö art scene, therefore it is a great loss to have lost Lillith!
/LETTERS/NEW YORK/ NEW YORK By Anki King
CURRENTLY there are about 25 Norwegian artists living and working in New York. Most have been living here for several years and a few of them come and go. So why would an artist leave the comfort of Norway for New York? Firstly, because of what New York has to offer in terms of education, museums and galleries. There is a wide choice of arts education. You can still find traditional schools like The NY Studio School, NY Academy of Art and the Art Students League, where working from a model and still life are the main focus, just as they were a hundred years ago. If you are looking for the more conventional arts education, there are schools like New York University, School of Visual Arts, and Cooper Union. With thousands of artists in one city, no matter what sort of work you do, you will find similarly minded people from whom you can learn and connect. New York has the most and best to offer compared to any city in the world when it comes to art. It may not have the richest or longest history, but it makes up for that with the energy of the current art scene. Secondly, an important reason why Norwegian artists are drawn to NY is the challenge it represents. It is not an easy or comfortable place in which to survive and it is fiercely competitive. It is important for any artist to leave their comfort zone to learn new things that force growth and improvement. In New York, you know you have to work hard to compete and make the best possible work to stand out in the crowd.
In addition you need to learn how to network and promote your work. You are challenged to be the best you can be. There is never a moment to rest; it always feels like you have a hand at your back pushing you forward. When you have the option of comparing yourself to the best in the world it is both great inspiration and serious motivation. So is there a specific type of Norwegian artist that finds his or herself at home here? You might think that it is the most cutting-edge, conceptual artists that find themselves here, but that is not quite the case. Surprisingly you will find many holding on to the square format of the canvas even though painting has been said to be dead. Obviously the rumor of its death is greatly exaggerated. So Norwegian artists that find their way to New York are not of one type, but have different personalities and modes of expression. In looking for a common denominator there is a hint of the darkness. Curator Christina Vassallo focused on this darkness when she created the exhibit Norwegian Art Now â€“ Darkness Descends, last year, Yet more noticeably is the commonality of a melancholy longing. A longing for childhood, nature, trees, berries, closeness and safety; that uncomplicated, free moment each one of us have experienced on a warm summer day and will forever search for. Maybe we all had to leave Norway to find and connect with this longing. ANDRE VON MORISSE ÂŠ 2010 PINK FREUD AND THE PLEASANT HORIZON, (ONGOING WORK) www.andrevonmorisse.com
WWW.ENKEPHALE.COM directed by Mahdi Yahya
“The Emperor Self” is a performance based on the life and writings of Henrik Ibsen, but with it comes a set of other themes, ideas and concepts. I started En’kephale as a company to develop new approaches to art and merge the visual arts, theatre, film, music, literature, fine art and spoken word. My first attempt to do so is in “The Emperor Self”. The production focuses on selected abstracts and incidents from Henrik Ibsen’s life paralleled with themes and ideas from his plays and poems. The title came from Peer Gynt, one of his
most famous plays, that describes a man’s journey of finding self. It all started when I came to London in 2007; the unstable political situation in Lebanon reached an unbearable state and being an artist this did not provide me with a platform to practice my work, so I had to leave. In London I got introduced to the Laban Movement Analysis, a system that was developed and utilized for actor’s training under the name of Character Analysis by Yat Malmgren. Yat, being a famous dancer in the sixties, developed these psycho-
logical approaches to movement from his dance background and created this system of body awareness that explained everything in colors, lines, time, space, weight and gestures. It deconstructed human characters into simple forms in order to understand their complexities. I am concerned with the relationship of time and space, and I am especially interested in Ibsen’s last period and particularly his dream plays, John Gabrielle Borkman and When we Dead Awaken. You can clearly see a shift in Ibsen’s ideas and his
perceptions of arts and theatre. During his last days Ibsen was trying to deconstruct the world around him, trying to get to the essence of life, nature and humans. As in painting one deconstructs a circle and it becomes a square then the square becomes a straight line. In “The Emperor Self” deconstruction was our starting point. I wanted to develop a way of presenting these ideas of deconstructing life, nature and humans and present them bluntly and clearly on a stage. The play consists of twelve characters and eleven performers.
The characters I wrote were general archetypes that could be found in our life, Ibsen’s life and any written play, they were the fool, the director, the gentleman, the lady, the lover, the princess, the mother, the father and the actors. The idea was to deconstruct life, thus these characters were born. Deconstruct nature; mechanical, simple and obstructive movements and physicality was developed. Ibsen is universal; he’s immortal in his ideas, because his ideas can apply anytime
to anyone in the world. It is about experiencing this idea. MAHDI YAHYA Director: The Emperor Self www.enkephale.com
Lan art exp cre
Land | Water Land | Water and the Visual Arts Research group consists of artists, writers and curators from the University of Plymouth, exploring landscape, space and place through a wide range of creative and critical practices.
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