TEXTS RETROSPECTIVE CATALOGUE 2009
Retrospective catalogue 2009 is the collection of commissioned texts accompanying our exhibitions, as well as documentation of all the exhibitions with the witness report on the 2009 programme written by artist Are Hauffen.
Through seven exhibitions and two Master Weekends, there has been a subtle discussion of what an art object is at Hordaland Art Centre. Together with artists, curators, writers and of course the audience we have let different views play freely, and as summary we offer this retrospective catalogue both in print and online. We want our common production to be avaliable to as many people as possible, at the same time as this is a way of turning both the Art Centre and its archives inside out into the public where we participate actively. The catalogue is designed by Ole Kristian Øye at Klipp og Lim.
To visit an art institution as audience is to visit a place with specific expectations in mind, expectations of experiencing something. As people come through the door, they may even have preconceived ideas of what that experience should be like. Throughout this last year we have tried to create debate about what has been exhibited at Hordaland Art Centre by not always fulfilling such expectations of how one should experience, thus carefully shifting the experience. Without publicly defining a theme or an agenda in advance, we have spent time discussing what an art object is, seen in relation to the specific framework of Hordaland Art Centre. We have tried to create a specific discussion without revealing the theme to be discussed beforehand, thus disregarding the hierarchical relationship of institution and audience where the institution is already in the know. In order to dissolve this hierarchy, we have let all the exhibitions be new productions, either artistic or curatorial. That way both institution and audience have started out with the same amount of information. A series of new meetings have been held and acquaintances made where the physical parameters of the art object have been explored, as well as the framework around it at the Art Centre. Works and exhibitions have ranged from almost non-existent to all-embracing. We have been motivated by our desire to participate in the present, and to do that we must endeavor to act concurrently with this age, without preconceived ideas. One way is to invite our guests to think new thoughts, patiently supporting them while they create new works to be made public for the first time at the Art Centre. There is something very special and extraordinary about such a method, and very few general rules. Our responsibility has been to prepare everyone’s meeting with this art and develop the surrounding framework. Without resorting to aestheticizing or interpretations, but insisting on new productions, we have commissioned accompanying texts, presentations and discussions for each exhibition in order to help translate what has happened in the exhibitions. That is how we have established the framework. All the exhibitions of 2009 have been anchored in the local art scene, but they have also reached out to include something bigger. Or rather; they have included themselves within a larger context. Without further ado Hordaland Art Centre takes on this role with those we work with. Still, it would not be correct to say that the programme displays a unified local identity. That has never been the intention, as it would have cramped both exhibition and the local art scene. This is why we have not wanted to define an essence in the exhibitions which would be translated to a specific contextual or visual landscape. But we can do so here, in this retrospective catalogue, and so it is the art object which has been the focus of our interest this year. More than one exhibition has stretched Hordaland Art Centre almost to the limits of its own comfort zone, but unless this happens sometime during a year, the institutional structure will set in its form, one which cannot carry on a discussion and maybe not even take part in innovations. In addition to those texts which have already been published in connection with each exhibition, Are Hauffen has been commissioned to follow the entire 2009 programme. The result is a witness report called As well as eye candy. Hauffen has been both a witness and a critical partner. By inviting an artist and writer to follow our activities we have constantly had to look at ourselves in relation to a critical audience.
The former director of Hordaland Art Centre, Mari Aarre, has written the text Reflective positions for the exhibition and project posisjoner (positions) by Aud Marit Skarrebo Holmen, about her work to keep language vague and open. We have had the pleasure to publish an extensive excerpt from a text by the dramaturge Bojana Bauer entitled The Mechanics of the Soul, about Pedro Gómez-Egaña’s methods and works on the occasion of his first solo exhibition in Norway; Might arrives. The exhibition situation DIG IT is accompanied by a dialogue text of the same title, written by the curators Linus Elmes and myself. The curator Erlend Hammer wound up using the textual space allocated each exhibition as a stepping stone for the project Kuratert av Erlend Hammer (Curated by Erlend Hammer) with his text In Defense of Eye Candy. Based on previous interest in HC Gilje’s works, the artist and theoretician Mitchell Whitelaw was invited to write his text Right Here, Right Now - HC Gilje’s Networks of Specificity for the exhibition blink. In addition to participating at the seminar Eeny, Meeny,
Miny, Moe… Glenn Adamson wrote the text Marking Time for the group exhibition That was then… This is now, curated by Heidi Bjørgan. As an extension to this year’s B-open seminar, writer Mette Karlsvik was invited to write a report on the day’s events which we print here, along with a text commissioned from the curator duo Firth-Eagland&Lundh. Karlsvik’s B+o+b – talk + talk + text is a mix of documentary and fiction, while Firth-Eagland&Lundh’s What’s all this talk about talk in art? is a conversation text where the talk is about precisely that: talking about art. Reading all these texts a picture emerges of how we relate to art today, they clarify the paradigm which suggests that art is dependent on both time and place.
Another way of contextualising our exhibitions is through presentations. The word forum describes a place; the assembly, institution or situation where an issue is to be discussed. Our experience is that Hordaland Art Center is a place where art can be discussed. The idea has been to let themes and interests criss-cross, dissolve into each other and sometimes allow the connection between presentation and exhibition to almost vanish. In addition we have hosted artist talks by our resident artists, and of course co-hosted the B-open seminar. This way we, our guests and our audience have been active participants in the conversation about art. Artist Lisa Torell presented her work on the last day of the exhibition posisjoner (positions) by Aud Marit Skarrebo Holmen, and discussed how her works are defined by the language she uses. Torell’s works are often site specific, dealing with how we can read a society through its application of text, how we devaluate and position ourselves through language as well as how this facilitates a reading of a society. She specifically spoke of her site specific installation Reserved places for more diffuse purposes which has been transported to several sites. This work consists of a text describing how man throughout the ages has tried to map his surroundings, thus endowing it with meaning. Torell’s work is a monument to those places which have no expressed meaning, encouraging the audience to preserve these places. In connection with the exhibition Might arrives we invited the audience to the presentation and conversation entitled On articulating works and places, with curator Abdellah Karroum and the artist Pedro Gómez-Egaña. Karroum presented ideas relating to our constant need to reinvent language to describe art works, and described the challenge of presenting works in places other than their place of origin. He also discussed the exhibition and piece Might arrives with Gómez-Egaña; how the piece almost stopped time, being a constant promise of something about to happen. Gómez-Egaña’s performance for video, Anytime Now, which was part of Hordaland Art Centre’s contribution to Karroum’s project Le Monde Autour De Vous for the first Brussels biennial in 2008, was screened and discussed. Just like in Might arrives, the artist also relates to an inside and outside of the art space in this video. The exhibition situation DIG IT was also accompanied by a conversation during the opening weekend. Linus Elmes and artist Ylva Ogland talked about Ogland’s contribution: her father Bengt Lagerås’ untitled painting from 1974, the year she was born. They discussed the relationship between her and her father’s works in the light of her childhood. Lagerås’ paiting is the one work in the situation which had a distinct frame, hanging on a yellow area on the wall. Ogland informed us that the painting had always hung on a yellow wall in Lagerås’ home, which resembled a museum. His relation to his own collection of images and objects was non-hierarchical, and the meaning of the collection was to be found in its actual composition. Ogland also told how she constantly tried to interpret the painting when she was a child; the wing of the eagle covering the moon, the moonshine lighting up the scene from behind and the two warriors fighting on the edge of the cliff. She always read the two warriors as her own father, trapped in an impossible situation, with no resolution in sight. In relation to, but also as an integral part of the project Kuratert av Erlend Hammer (Curated by Erlend Hammer), we invited the audience for lunch and a conversation. After a brief introduction we opened for questions from the floor. The conversational format was chosen particularly to create a forum where the audience could ask questions which had arisen during the time of the project, both publicly and in private. The reactions were varied, ranging from those who found it provoking that a curator had left the exhibition space empty, to those who could not understand how a project like this could gain so much attention. The relationship between exhibition and audience was discussed, as well as the status of the exhibition space. This gathering did not reach any conclusion, which had in any case not been its intention. What was intended was the conversation between curator and audience, and that mission was accomplished. For the exhibition blink HC Gilje gave an artist talk where he mapped out the process behind the two works of the exhibition, and artist and curator Line Halvorsen was invited to give a talk on the closing day. HC Gilje talked about his thoughts on movement as background material, and how shadows can be considered a specific way of telling time. He also showed how the exhibition space he worked with almost disintegrated, just by pointing at how light creates both darkness and illusions of perspective. Halvorsen presented her work on mapping the artist as figure, contemporary participant, colleague and myth. This work started when she made the interview film Kunstakademiet i Oslo 100 år together with Astrid Skumsrud Johansen earlier in 2009, from which she also screened excerpts. The title of the presentation was Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear, appropriated from the van Gogh painting of the same name, because this image could capture many of the stereotypical attitudes of society towards the artist: “If the ear is cut right off, a bleeding ear, a missing ear, a bleeding giant wound, of course you must bandage the whole head. And I was thinking that this is a nice image of an artist, someone who has lost parts of his hearing, walking about in mono, orienting himself mostly through his vision.” In conjunction with her exhibition That was then… This is now, curated by Heidi Bjørgan, she also conceived the one day seminar Eeny, meeny, miny, moe… During this day several aspects of contemporary craft were discussed by art historian Glenn Adamson, Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and author of Thinking Through Craft; Synnøve Vik, art historian, critic and exhibition coordinator at The Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts; Hans Stofer, designer-maker working in the field of Applied Arts and professor at the Royal College of Art and artist Anders Ruhwald. Viks’s seminar contribution has been reworked as a text, and can be found in this catalogue.
Our two resident artists, both from Sweden, presented their practice. Victoria Brännström showed documentation of several of her works where she involves different groups and constellations of people to discuss networks appearing between people in society. We were told of the strong reactions her work Antippa på Iaspis (Antippa at Iaspis) caused, when she according to the anarcofeminist cafee Antippa’s political philosophy kept this as a female separatist event. In Bergen she conducted research towards the production of a work in 2010, co-produced by Hordaland Art Centre also involving a group of women. Felice Hapetzeder screened three of his latest video works. During his stay in Bergen he completed the post-production of the second part of the video series Limits of forgiveness, where he uses interviews to describe events which the interviewees have not themselves experienced, but which have affected them in their childhood through their parents. He continues to explore the relationship between nationality, ethnicity and sexuality.
Most of our audience visit our exhibitions for a fairly short time, but the purpose of this catalogue is to stretch time so that we can all experience the exhibitions over a longer period, at the same time as the Art Centre’s archive is turned inside-out.
Anne Szefer Karlsen
Bergen, January 2010