Originating from the “Bergen Biennial Conference” in 2009 and its critical thinking around the biennial format, the Bergen Assembly seeks to devise alternative timeframes, densities, and relational economies of public presentation and perception today. Pointing to the multitude of practices in contemporary art and the research surrounding it, while experimenting with the need for an overall thematic coherence across the event, the 2016 edition offers three distinct propositions, expanded and developed in different temporal registers by the artistic directors: Tarek Atoui, freethought, and PRAXES. Exhibitions, live events, and publications are continually introduced and produced throughout the year, with a convergence of activities taking place from September 1–October 1, 2016.
In March 2013, artist and composer Tarek Atoui presented WITHIN as a three-month-long composition for the Sharjah Biennial 11, developed out of the conversations and collaboration between Atoui, Paris based curators Gregory Castéra and Sandra Terdjman (Council), and the teachers and students of Al Amal School for the Deaf.
For Bergen Assembly 2016, Atoui is continuing WITHIN with the intention of learning from the Deaf to re-visit established and conventional ways of experiencing sound, holding concerts, writing, and conducting performances. The project will materialize in several forms, from imagining and constructing musical instruments that address both Deaf and hearing persons, to rethinking concert situations and their architectural components, to working on new techniques of field recording and discerning sonic environments.
In collaboration with fifteen institutions from Bergen, Atoui will be hosting a series of performances and concerts that will put these instruments into action, as well as the knowledge and the know-how generated by this process. Approaching profound deafness as both an ability and a starting point, Council will gather a collection of pluridisciplinary objects and practices that extend the notion of hearing beyond audition, presenting an exhibition that functions as an alternative to the modern conception of hearing.
freethought (Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Nora Sternfeld, Louis Moreno) is a collective working in public research and in curating concepts of urgency.
freethought will focus on its current collective interest: infrastructure. By looking at many different understandings of this key word—from legacies of colonial and early capitalist systems of governance to current conditions of the financialization of the cultural field to the subversive possibilities of thinking and working with infrastructures as sites of affect and contradiction—”infrastructure” emerges as the invisible force which constitutes culture today. This large-scale investigation aims to wrest the term away from the language of planners and technocrats and put it to creative and critical use within the cultural sphere.
Throughout 2015–16 freethought is leading a programme of public seminars, invited guest lectures, artists, and independent research in Bergen with the intention of developing a collective body of research and insights. This research, an interrogation of infrastructure on a local and global scale of ecology, finance, administration, labour, communication, hospitality, and acts of assembling, will culminate in a programme of exhibitions, discursive platforms, publications, and artistic commissions for the Bergen Assembly, opening September 1, 2016.
At PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin 2013–15, Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel presented half-year cycles of consecutive exhibitions, publications, and events, revolving around two unassociated artistic practices. For the Bergen Assembly, PRAXES expand the modular investigations to a full year and episodically inhabit a variety of sites throughout Bergen in an itinerant material discussion around the practices of Lynda Benglis and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.
Lynda Benglis (b. 1941, US) was first recognized in the sixties with her poured latex and foam works, a precise retort to her minimalist contemporaries. Continuing her pioneering practice, vibrant biomorphic shapes in a bold range of materials express a deep concern with the physicality of form and how it affects the viewer. In Bergen, Benglis’s prolific production is distilled into single-work installations, reconstructions, group shows, and one-night screenings.
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (b. 1973, UK) celebrates popular culture. She has adopted elements from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Miyazaki’s Catbus, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in exuberant collective performances and films merging irreverence and joie de vivre. In Bergen, Chetwynd will create a new work presented in installments throughout the year, while a series of exhibitions-events probe her long-term involvement with social anthropology, humor, and performance traditions.
Please join us on Friday 29 April at 7pm for the premiere of a brand new work by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, The Elixia App (Episode One), commissioned by Bergen Assembly.
Part of a serial production with interrelated events in April, September, and November, this piece is being developed and reconfigured throughout the year in collaboration with a troupe of participants, centered upon Bergen octogenarians and elderly members of the local community.
Questing for the grail of aged wisdom, The Elixia App (Episode One) channels Sean Connery in red trunks and thigh-high boots (as seen in the Sci-Fi travesty Zardoz, 1974) as it sets up a choreography to empower and extract the fierce and fearless insight that might come with experience. A giant head, a machine which grinds people into biscuits, a well-being/euthanasia room, and collectively handprinted/-painted costumes - all are elements of this exoskeleton of layered human knowledge.
The live performance is free; no tickets or pre-registration needed.
Following the performance, USF Visningsrommet hosts an exhibition condensing the artist’s research in Bergen up to this point, while tracing her long-term experiments with materials, spontaneous processes, and participatory actions.
Apr 30 - May 15, 2016
“Double Albatross” a Lynda Benglis Paper & Wire pieces -exhibition in Bergen, a part of the Bergen Assembly 2016
Please join us on Saturday 30 April at 5-7pm for the opening of Lynda Benglis: ‘Double Albatross’ at Kunstgarasjen.
The installation debuts a body of paper sculptures fresh from the artist’s studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Handmade paper draped like skins over wire constructions pose like abstracted anthropomorphic limbs and torsos, twisted, and playfully dressed up in greys, pinks, and glittery blues. Drawing on Benglis’s long-term investigation of knots and folds—in particular her Sparkle Knot works from the 1970s, one of which is included in the exhibition, and her ceramics series, also currently on display in Bergen—these works simultaneously come across as paintings, sculptures, fashion, baroque architectural models, and anatomy sketches.
A short documentary by American film director Burrill Crohn will be screened for the first time at the opening, offering a rare view of the artist at work.
In addition, on Saturday 30 April 12:30–5pm Bergen Assembly and Bergen Academy of Art and Design [KHiB] invites audiences to 'Slithering Green', an afternoon conference marking the final weekend of the ceramics exhibition Lynda Benglis: 'Glacier Burger', at Bergen School of Architecture. Speakers include Lynda Benglis, Federica Bueti, Bjørn Mortensen, Anne Helen Mydland, Tal R, Valerie Smith, and Jan Verwoert.
Free admission, shuttle bus from Bergen School of Architecture to Kunstgarasjen at 5pm.
Bergen Assembly is a perennial model for artistic production and research that is structured around public events taking place in the city of Bergen every three years.
Originating from the “Bergen Biennial Conference” in 2009 and its critical thinking around the biennial format, the Bergen Assembly seeks to devise alternative timeframes and densities for public presentation and perception today. The flexible model is reinvented for each edition, responding in particular to a perceived need for alternative temporalities of art production and experience within an oversaturated information culture, where attention itself is increasingly commodified and subject to pressure.
Pointing to the multitude of practices in contemporary art and related research, the Bergen Assembly 2016 offers three distinct propositions, expanded and developed in different temporal registers by the artistic directors: Tarek Atoui, freethought, and PRAXES. Exhibitions, live events, and publications are continually introduced and produced throughout the year, with a convergence of activities taking place in September, 2016.
If you are not a member of artforum.com you must register.