Working for the glory of tomorrow – when tomorrow never comes

Well, well!

I’m posting after a long long silence from the blog, and I owe an apology to my “twentyfive” readers.. SORRY!

My final weeks in Dale were great tho I was totally absorbed by funding applications and couldn’t find the time for anything else ūüė¶ I left nkd on Feb 28th, heading to Trondheim, got sick, went back to Stockholm to empty my room and ship my belongings over to Italy, where I spent the last couple of weeks in March, between boxes to unpack and reorganise along memory lane, unexpected wedding ceremonies and some interesting exhibitions.

April, April… and Residency number 2 starts, on the 3rd. I’m in Zuerich, living in a mansard along Universitatstrasse (yes: ETH and the Geology departments seem to be haunting me, I know…)

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my new temporary home …

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(sweet) temporary home …

I have an amazing terrace, but the weather has been incredibly changeable/unpredictable so I haven’t really used it yet! From cold and rainy to summery (of course the hot days were mostly when I was away in Italy for a talk..) … back to erm… Snow! … This was my view, this morning!

Jump on a chair and stick your head outside the window, and: surprise!

Jump on a chair and stick your head outside the window, and: surprise! Is it the 20th of April? Really?! I honestly thought such randomness levels were only possible in Scandinavia…

 

And welcome to my studio, at OG9/Kunsthaus Aussersihl – I’m waiting for people to pop around as we have a very informal open studio this afternoon, but we’ll have a kinda more proper one on May 11th.

 

My studio

My studio

These first two weeks here have been very busy indeed. I have decided to take an intensive German course (10 hours/week), I’ve seen a few shows, met a few interesting people, and reconnected with old friends that I had not had the chance to see since ages… I shall write some accounts of it soon, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

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Coming soon! Residency Exhibition: Lys i Gamle Hus

This season, rather than an open studio, everyone currently in residence at the Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale¬†will be taking part in the special night Lys i Gamle Hus (literally, “Light at the Old House”) in Dale. It will be a festival night with a lot of different happenings, and since I’m not really an artist and the exhibition is far from being something that could ever be curated, I decided to exhibit an artist video I co-authored (with Eva Frapiccini) the screenplay of, first shown in September 2011 in Turin within the exhibition Museo Caneira | la fisica del possibile. This makes the Norwegian Premiere Night for Aleksander Prus Caneira | Quantum Physics and the Portals of the Unconscious.

Put something warm on and come along!

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Some shots of the two venues, taken when we went over for a site visit a couple of weeks ago.

The buildings are really very beautiful, old and traditional looking.

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performance & 2-d works space

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installation space

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the screening space

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the gorgeous huge window in the screening space

Getting sporty in Dale

Dale i Sunnfjord is part of the municipality of Fjaler.¬†For the size and relative remoteness of such a place, the locals have¬†a busy calendar of sport activities, from outdoors hiking and skiing, to indoor sports such as badmington, handball and ballroom dancing. The¬†Gammel dance comes¬†with a twist: there is not one style, but in the space of two hours it can vary from polka to salsa to traditional Norwegian dance to swing, and I’ve been told it’s mainly (but not only) the older generations there, but I tell you, they could easily donate ¬†some of their stamina to the 20 and 30-somethings (and I’m top of the list). Kinda wanted to go enjoy some people watching, but I was told I either dance, or I’m out, and obviously: I’m out, as I can’t even put my feet in a line! what should I say,¬†I guess I could have provided some free entertainment for the locals, but well: they missed their chance!

Up here, fellow artist in residence Roberto came up with the idea of the ping pong tournament. So, Saturday evening saw a Canadian, a German, an Italian and four Norwegians battling for a loot of local beer. Nkd‘s own Olympics? Sort of.. As it was too cold in the corridor, we decided to bring the table into my studio, where it still stands.

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come and play!

Results: The German athlete withdrew from the competition before the first round due to a cold, I played and lost each and every game (it’s no secret sports is one of three things – with sewing and music – that I won’t ever learn and I lost all hopes for many years ago), but at the end of the day, I made up by being an almost decent ref, and quoting De Coubertin…¬†the Norwegian team did very well with 2nd and 3rd places on the podium, but the unbeated winner was our Canadian, Roberto.

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getting in the mood..

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here we go…

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with some action!

Huge snowflakes, and a (clumsy) headless chicken in Dale

Oh yes: the headless chicken is autobiographical, needless to say..

I’m working 7am-9pm with two half an hour breaks these days: an awful lot of deadlines that seems to grow exponentially: the more you tick off “done” items from the to-do-lists, the more stuff appears: selfperpetuating magic, is it?

Some Results: I dreamt about placing pinpoints onto world map last night (clearly a by-product of my international search for hosts for the Dreams’ Time Capsule project. And of course, I¬†haven’t had much time for the blog, but anyways: here I am now! I still want to catch up with a couple of reviews from the exhibitions I’ve seen in Bergen a couple of weeks ago and a very interesting studio visit with artist Anne Lise Stenseth (hopefully, coming soon!)

… but first, I decided to go with a couple of “lighter” posts flagging notable events in the past two/three weeks here at the Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale.

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visibly huge snowflakes

First of all – it has been snowing! Snowflakes the size of feathers and no, I’m not joking. I was mesmerized for a while, as such big ones are a rarity for me (even for Stockholm standards), tried to take some snapshots but they turned out so so… but good enough to give you an idea!

The first snow tho was of the wet quality, turning the paths into ice fields. I had the clever idea of taking to the studio some glass items, slipped badly, landing on my left hand, and it remains rather inexplicable how I managed to keep hold of the fragile objects with my right hand.

Anyhow, I know, I shouldn’t spend many lines talking about the weather so I will just add some images for you to droole at the beauty of this landscape, and of course turn green with envy at the minus-10something-degrees it’s been recently.

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Dale and the fjord

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views from my terrace

the neighbours' houses

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outside my studio..

outside my studio..

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Bergen: Exhibitions & Art Spaces part I – Lars Korff Lofthus and Entr√©e

I have missed out on the re-opening of Bergen Kunsthall a few days ago, and I will ask fellow resident and Bergen-based artist Karen Skog to enlighten me on the exhibitions, but I imagine Willelm de Rooij and Rosa Barba would be two interesting shows. Hopefully I’ll manage to drop by on my way to Trondheim at the end of the residency..

On the other hand, I had a chance to visit many interesting exhibitions and spaces.. starting from Entr√©e¬†at¬†N√łstegaten 42!

Despite not being terribly fond of landscape paintings, the dramatic Norwegian ladscapes are quite close to my (stereotypical) image of the sublime, and seeing it pierced through by tunnels was in a way quite an interesting turn of that imagery, besides a good topic for discussion on the importance and symbolic value of tunnels for this country. Nevertheless, my psychological distance to the genre determined some difficulty in engaging with these new works by Lars Korff Lofthus, yet I was really drawn by his wonderful use of colour, and the incredibly rich palette so full of contrast and vibrancy.

My favourite piece in his exhibition is certainly the most abstract and delicate one, I kept going back to it again and again, as I found it well balanced, yet somehow unsettling.

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from the exhibition Lars Korff Lotfhus РNew Work Рat Entrée, Bergen

The opening, on Friday 25th of January, was very lively, with students and different generations of artists, curators and art lovers, some good conversations, interesting encounters and meetings.

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View of the exhibition during the opening eveningof the exhibition: Lars Korff Lotfhus РNew Work Рat Entrée, Bergen. You can spot me with the orange scarf speaking to the artist.
Image courtesy: Randi Grov Berger

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View of the exhibition: Lars Korff Lotfhus РNew Work Рat Entrée, Bergen
Image courtesy: Randi Grov Berger

I returned to Entr√©e on Sunday, for a really enlightening conversation with the owner, the curator Randi Grov Berger, whom I had met at a Maria Lind’s conference on¬†practicing the¬†curatorial¬†at Goteborg University back in 2011, where we were part of the audience with our respective MA Curating classes (Stockholm and Bergen universities).

Oh well, the Scandinavian art world isn’t really that big, after all..

I was really curious to understand how the gallery developed since it first opened at the end of 2009, its programming, how it is funded, and its role in the local art scene, and Randi was very open and great to talk to.. and I thought I should share some interesting information on the space, as it is a rather hybrid model.

Entr√©e started as I said in 2009, a joint effort of two artists from Hordaland who had both been based in Bergen for at least part of their artistic training: Randi Grov Berger and¬†Cato L√łland. As it often happens, they had a studio up the road and kept walking past an empty, freshly renovated shopfloor space. One day, at the end of the Summer, they decided to try their chance asking if they could use it for a project. So, it all started with a solo exhibition of the works of Bergen-based artist¬†Ragnhild Johansen, Erasing Knot Paintings, that Fall. Good feedback from the locals, the receipt of state funding, and the possibility to take over the space, determined a decision to give up their artist studios, and the transformation of Entr√©e into a permanent entity – if one can ever use the word permanent these days.. – a space with a great flexibility, balancing in the muddy waters between the artist-run project space and the “white cube”. Whereas for Grov Berger Entr√©e became a natural extension of her artistic practice and her concern with art in public space and its accessibility – so much that she decided to also study curating in the meantime – for fellow founder¬†L√łland it soon became an impediment to a more studio-based practice.

The space, initially conceived as a platform for local artists – an in-between stage between the art academy environment and the professional gallery – has in its three years of activities developed a varied programme, presenting works by Norwegian artists but with frequent international appearances.¬†Offering a small production budget and a fee, as well as a constructively critical and open attitude that allows for ambitious, experimental and often site-specific projects, Entr√©e is probably one of the first and longer-lived examples of a small plethora of recently initiated artist-led spaces in Norway, a tendency that has developed especially since the introduction of a specific 3-years support grant scheme introduced by Arts Council Norway in 2010, in response to pressures by¬†UKS. The space also acts as a catalyst for a new scene of non institutionalised or commercial spaces stemming in the city of Bergen, and has been active in creating a synergy with the institutional scene since its early days, with noteworthy collaborations with Bergen Biennale 2010/Bergen Kunstmuseum, and this years’ Bergen Assembly.

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Installation view. Crimes of the Future (by Per-Oskar Leu), from the exhibition Pica Pica.
Image courtesy: Randi Grov Berger

After a close look at the Retrospective Catalogue – Entr√©e 2009-2011, as well as on the website, there are a few exhibitions I wish I could have visited in person, such as Malin Lennstr√∂m-√Ėrtwall:It’s Like Nothing Ever Happened¬†(I had included one of these works in a proposal I developed with Copenhagen-based colleague Liberty Paterson a couple of years ago), Kjersti Vetterstad: Lethargia, Pica Pica (Ebba Bohlin, Per-Oskar Leu, Kaia Hugin, curated by Johanne Nordby Wern√ł), Ethan Hayes-Chute: Make/Shifted Cabin¬†and¬†Anna Lundh: Grey Zone.

Installation view. (by Ethan Hayes Chute), from the exhibition Make/Shifted Cabin Image courtesy: Randi Grov Berger

Installation view. (by Ethan Hayes Chute), from the exhibition Make/Shifted Cabin
Image courtesy: Randi Grov Berger

So, if you happen to be in Bergen, go and check out Entrée.

The next appointment?

On March 1st,  for the opening of Azar Alsharif who I hear is working on a new series of  collages.

a glimpse of Bergen …

Oh good lord, I’m very very late in writing this post! The past ten days have been quite intense and I haven’t managed to get my head around blogging to catch up, upsie! Anyway.. I was going to talk about the trip to Bergen, which was somehow blurted out as an inarticulated proposal by the director here “I’m going to this opening in Bergen Friday evening, a friend’s exhibition, anyone wants to join?” Of course! Bergen is extremely pretty, and seeing a bit of urban civilty after three weeks of life in the woods was I must say appealing. Not that I terribly missed the human ladscape of openings, but it was great to take the chance of engaging a little bit with the scene in the region, doing some sightseeing, and get a chance to talk with both Arild and Adeline in a different context.

The trip in itself was a rather spectacular drive through the fjord, lots of ice and snowcapped mountains. Impossible not to fall in love with such landscapes. Bergen is gorgeous in itself, and it was interesting for me to return during the winter: it’s quite a difference between January and August, yet it’s always darn wet! So, let’s start with a few touristy shots (not that great as it was snowing and raining most of the time).

In the next posts, I’ll take you through some of the exhibitions I had a chance to visit, ¬†so stay tuned!

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the back door of our b&b, basically the top of a narrow staircase in one of the many old districts of town, between the old cloister and Nykyrka

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a traditionally steep Bergen alleyway

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Amidst all the three-hundred-something-years-old houses, some compelling street art, these are along Sukkerhusgaten.

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The area is close to the sea, and there’s mainly shipping companies and artists’ studios around

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.. besides two art spaces, Entrée and Knipsu

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I would have needed one of these fishermen’s hats!

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a classical view of Bryggen, the beautiful (UNESCO protected) heart of maritime commerce in the city since Medieval times

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Rasmus Meyers Allé, with the small lake completely frozen and covered in snow: people were going wild skating around, while I had fun at the museums

 

 

Norwegian Orientation Week

It has been really cold and we’ve seen some snowflakes this week here in Dale:

the landscape around the Artists’ Centre is getting more and more beautiful by the day!

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This week, I had some very long and interesting chats with fellow resident and curator Marianne, who has unfortunately now made her way back to Berlin via Oslo.. we’ll definitely keep talking on virtual interfaces on our respective thoughts and experiences.

Work on the Dreams’ Time Capsule project continues, and I have also started watching films and exploring portfolios of Norwegian artists, I have been thinking about what to do for our open day/small city festival here around mid February, and many other things.. Now I’m getting ready for a unexpected visit to Bergen, for which I’ll be leaving shortly. You’ll need to wait a little to read my report on this weekend’s openings, exhibitions and meetings on Monday!

This week, I also happened to turn 32, ¬†and decided to use my birthday and Marianne’s leave as a pretext for a very informal get together with all the other guests and nkd’s staff on Tuesday evening. As a chef, I love dinner parties, and spending a few hours on a proper cooking mandate with my rolling pin friend was very liberating! I went quite classic with some totally homemade lasagna and a berry cheesecake, which was much applauded by everyone. It was a really great and fun evening, and I’m thinking that we should try making it a regular weekly appointment… Which should also help collect material for a recipe book for the artists’ centre..

Something I found quite refreshing as it’s such a rare sight amongst colleagues: no art gossiping or too much talking about our respective practices.¬†It’s wonderful to have wider-spanning conversations, which in these contexts are a little bit too rare in my experience.. but apparently this is the Norwegian way – perhaps a better strategy to try and maintain the working day that healthy little separate from leisurely time with peers.

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The official candle-blowing moment! (from left): Karen, √ėyvind, Marianne and myself.

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(from left) Roberto, Arild, Anne Lise and √ėyvind. and Marianne’s handbags on display..

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Marianne (with more of her bags) and Mercedes

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Adeline

Anne Lise and Omar

New and Old Projects…

These first couple of weeks I have mainly been busy writing preparing funding applications and working hard on taking a recently realised project forward, as I’m currently in the process of looking for, and negotiating with potential host venues for a project called Dreams’ Time Capsule¬†by the Italian artist Eva Frapiccini. Originally produced by Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm, where it was also exhibited, the project has so far collected dreams archives in Cairo (at the Townhouse Gallery), in Stockholm (Arkitekturmuseet and Fittja Open), and in Turin. If you would love to have DTC visit your city, get in touch!

Dreams' Time Capsule installed at Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm, 2012. Photo: Emma Fredrikkson

Dreams’ Time Capsule installed at Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm, 2012. Photo: Emma Fredrikkson

I will keep working on this project while in residence here at nkd, but I will also be mumbling on a new proposal: a programme of screenings of artists’ short ¬†films for a captive audience, to be projected on the different local and regional ferry lines crossing the Western fjords here in Norway. The idea is to include both Norwegian and international artists, so feel free to submit your material.

Besides that, I will be finally taking up my long overdue column RSVP (Regarding Studio Visit Practices) on the artist-run editorial project FiskFrisk.

Stay tuned!

The Wednesday Rituals

Every Wednesday at 12 o’clock a nice collective ritual takes place at nkd’s office: a coffee break gathering. It’s a great chance to interact with the other residents (fellow curators, artists, film directors, etc.) and get a bit of conversation going: trying to understand the local customs and life here, besides getting to know one another, has been the main topic of conversation. We’ve talked politics and cultural differences, and very informally discussed elements of our respective practices, commented on exhibitions we visited or only read about, and so forth.

The local scene is basically non-existent beyond the Centre’s walls, and there seems to be only one¬†active contemporary artist based in the municipality, Anne Lise Stenseth, who usually joins us during our weekly meetings. I will visit her studio in the next few days and shall defer my report until then.

The same goes for the other residents, two of which arrived only a few days ago, but for now I should at least introduce them!

Norwegian artists¬†√ėyvind Aspen¬†& Mercedes,¬†Karen Skog¬†and Berlin-based curator and exhibition designer¬†Marianne Zamecznik, and Canadian filmmaker (of Italian descent, as you could guess from the name)¬†Roberto Santaguida.

Studio wonders

Tuesday, 8th of January, late morning

A map of the art centre – you can find me at number 2!

I make my way to the art centre which is only around the corner from the beautiful bungalows artists live in. There, I meet Arild, nkd’s director, and it is great to give a face and a voice to what had been only an email exchange. I get my introductory tour of the space’s facilities and the different workshops, which are quite impressive, and I’m led to my studio space.

nkd: the entrance

nkd: the entrance

A studio?! Good Lord, I haven’t had a studio since I was a Fine Art student, and I wasn’t using it much back then either as I was already more of a curator than a sculptor.. As you can see, it is massive, with a really high, beautiful weavy ceiling, and a huge glass facade overlooking a breathtaking landscape: mountains, forest, village, fjord and sea, the view really has it all. The only downside is that despite the heating, it remains very cold, and after sitting down typing for a couple of hours I have to run home and work in the front room there, or I’ll turn into a funny-looking subpolar creature!

Check it out!

Welcome to Studio 2 at Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale!

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