Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner are showing their installation Forensics of Attractionas part of the Bergen Assembly. The triennale is taking place in several locations all around Bergen, all renamed as fictitious ‘research institutes’. Fadlabi and Cuzners project is located in the ‘Institute of Imaginary States’.
Tell us about the project Forensics of Attraction and what in the catalogue is termed as a ‘pointless trip to Thailand’?
– This project and installation is just a cross section from our ongoing research with the project European Attraction Limited.
– At the same time we are mocking our own process as artist by doing as artists do: pick a problem or conflict in the world and act like it somehow is discovered by us, and then present it in a ham-fisted manner to make it seem important and informative. It’s pointless because we are not discovering anything at all, and we knew that before we even went. But somehow this is the point with the project.
– The forensic component illustrates a personal and emotional investigation passed off as empirical knowledge. And this is what we go through with each new artistic research process, it´s a mix of enthusiasm and disappointment.
In the catalogue it says that you are dealing with a so-called ‘conspirative narrative’ in the project. What do you mean by this, as opposed to any other kind of narrative?
– The aesthetics of our research in this project is in line with conspiracy channels online passing off anything you want as empirical. It’s an aesthetic device that replaces the narrative elements it should have contained. The conspiracy narrative is unnarratable.
– You search for signs and evidence to prove your own illusions. We find that very poetic.
It´s also says that you are ‘exposing mechanisms of the spectacle and the complicity it coerces from its viewers’. Can you elaborate on these mechanisms?
– ‘Exposing’ is the wrong word because we don’t know what we are looking for and don’t present clear conclusions. As explained before, that was not the point. Conclusions are just side effects because we are talking about something real, a real situation, at the same time it is a staged situation, but no less real.
You’ll be showing the finished project European Attraction Limited, next year, which will be a replica of the Kongolese village from 1914. How did you come up with this idea?
– It will not be the end, but presenting another stage in the process, as this show is.
– Four years ago we stumbled upon information about a human zoo that had taken place in the heart of Oslo in 1914. Not being from this country, naturally, we assumed that this was common knowledge among natives, so, in an interest to learn more about the general premise of the exhibition, we started asking around. As it turned out, pretty much no one we talked to had ever heard about it (even if they had heard of human zoos in other countries). Given how popular the exhibition was (1.4 million visitors saw it at a time when the population of Norway was 2 million) the widespread absence of at least a general knowledge was surprising.
How would you describe your work process from idea to work?
– There is no clear line to follow, the work feeds the idea and vice versa. They are the same.
What are your main influences when creating a work of art?
Fadlabi: – I’m very influenced by Lars Cuzner.
Lars Cuzner: – I’m very influenced by Fadlabi.
Why is art important?
– It’s just a tool to find other questions. The importance comes from how important the questions you find are.