For the second edition, due to open in September 2016, Bergen Assembly has appointed “three distinct positions to present separate projects”.
As a perennial model for artistic production and research, Bergen Assembly, apply subtitled An Initiative for Art and Research, is structured around public events taking place in the city of Bergen every three years. The first edition, Monday Begins on Saturday, was curated by Ekaterina Degot and David Riff and was structured around Arkadij and Boris Strugatskij’s book with the same name, a Russian satirical sci-fi published in 1964. In the book the reader is introduced to different research institutes which deals in research on magic such as sorcery and wizardry. In Degot and Riff’s own words “the spirit of the book was applied to the exhibition in Bergen”, renaming established gallery spaces like Bergen Kunsthall, Kode, Knipsu and Entrée to institutes of “the Disappearing Future”, “Imaginary States”, “Love and the Lack Thereof” and “Political Hallucinations”, thus building a satirical narrative around Bergen’s (and Norway’s) cultural funding system where the government finance “artistic research”. The exhibition could be interpreted as making fun of an infamous utterance of the Swedish minister of trade and industry Bjørn Rosengren in 1999, saying that “Norway is the last Soviet state”.
The first Bergen Assembly, Monday Begins on Saturday, opened 31 August and closed 27 October 2013, and got mixed public reception. In the local discussions in Norway it seemed to be agreement amongst art professionals that the exhibition was an interesting experimentation on the format of perennial exhibitions – and thus to a certain degree met some of the expectations – and that it had an interesting structure and some good works. However, the exhibition was not discussed much in the national media, and the number of visitors who were not art professionals where rather disappointing. The gap between the ambitions and the number of visitors raised discussions in the media, and at KUNSTforum’s website, also about Bergen Assembly’s ability and will to reach out to a broader audience. While such a discussion may have terminated a perennial exhibition everywhere else in Norway, it seems that Bergen Assembly continues at the same pace, determined to make Bergen Assembly a perennial exhibition that will challenge common notions of such recurring exhibitions and contribute to the discourse on these kinds of art events.
In a press release today Bergen Assembly announced the artistic directors of the next event, taking place, or culminating, in Bergen in September 2016. One part of the Assembly will be developed by the artist Tarek Atoui, while a second component will be convened by Rhea Dall & Kristine Siegel, founders of PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin. In parallel, the collective freethought will produce a research, discourse, and display platform on “infrastructure”.
About the artistic directors
Tarek Atoui, who was born in Lebanon in 1980, moved to France in 1998, where he studied sound art and electro-acoustic music. In 2008 he served as artistic director of STEIM (Studio for Electro Instrumental Music) in Amsterdam, a center for the research and development of new electronic musical instruments since 1969. Atoui has presented works internationally including at the New Museum, New York (2009/2010); Sharjah Biennial 9 and 11, United Arab Emirates (2009/2013); Media City Seoul (2010); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010); Performa 11, New York (2011); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012); Serpentine Gallery, London (2012); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2012–2013); The MERCOSUL Biennial, Porto Alegre (2013); and the 8th Berlin Biennial (2014).
PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art is a not-for-profit venue for international art and research, founded in 2013 by Rhea Dall & Kristine Siegel in Berlin. They present half-year cycles of consecutive exhibition modules, publications, and live activities around two unassociated artistic practices. PRAXES presented five exhibitions by Gerard Byrne and three by Jutta Koether in fall 2013, while spring 2014 has been dedicated to five installations by Falke Pisano and four displays by Judith Hopf. Drawing on their previous positions in museum institutions, residency programs, and biennials, and their current research at University of Copenhagen, Dall and Siegel favor extended, collective modes of investigation, allowing both long-term resonances and productive discrepancies in an artistic practice to find their place in exhibitions, texts, and events.
freethought is a collective of six persons (Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Louis Moreno, and Nora Sternfeld) who came together in 2011 as a platform for research, pedagogy, and production. They combine intellectual work with creative practice and large-scale public organization and aim to blur the boundaries between thought, creativity, and critique and meld them into a trans-language practice, working with and as artists and knowledge producers in a new way. Working across disciplines and genres to experiment with new combinations of criticism and practice in the arts, freethought also strives to place these new models in unexpected contexts.
For Bergen Assembly, freethought will focus on its current main collective interest: “Infrastructure”, a large-scale investigation of how the term can be wrested away from the language of planners and technocrats and put to creative and critical use within the cultural sphere.
The second edition of Bergen Assembly will present public events throughout 2016, with a culmination of exhibitions, discursive platforms, and other events opening in September 2016.