Video program from the festival exhibition I Am a Multitude shown in Havremagasinet Länskonsthall, Boden
Last year the North Norwegian Art Centre produced the festival exhibition for the Arctic Arts Festival 2021 – an important meeting point and arena for culture in Harstad, Northern Norway.
The exhibition with the title I am a Multitude presented different ways of being in the world, and the complex symbiotic relationship between all of us. From the microscopic, which can make quite a surprising difference, to the macroscopic that supposedly makes a bigger impact, the exhibition aimed to open up for the exploration of various types of existences and sensualities. In a time when the distant has slipped even further away, and the near has crept even nearer, the wish was to build bridges and to inspire the exploration of less obvious connections.
A central part of the exhibition in Harstad last summer, was an expansive film programme in a cinema setting. A collaboration has been initiated with Havremagasinet to bring tentacles from the exhibition to Boden. A selection from the programme in Harstad will be presented in this context, with the artists Iselin Linstad Hauge, Viktor Pedersen, Eva Bakkeslett and Jenna Sutela.
Iselin Linstad Hauge:
The Boundary Object, (2019)
video, 3 min
At the heart of Iselin Linstad Hauge’s art practice, is the exploration of the relationship between humans and animals, especially within industry and livestock production. The alienation of bodies and individuals, as well as the distance between these bodies, is central to her works. She examines our relationship to several animal species, and considers how hidden, esthetical preferences determine which animals we protect and look after. For the last decade, Hauge has visited a number of farms and agricultural production facilities in Norway in order to document and gather materials for her work. This material she joins with research within other disciplines such as ethics, ecology, and zoology.
The point of departure for the work, The Boundary Object, is a particular act: A human touching an animal body and caressing it. We have an intimate relationship to our cats and dogs, and to touch these animals is a way of showing that we care, to show appreciation and love. The Boundary Object relates to this action, while at the same time focusing on the more alienated relationship between humans and animals as livestock.
Iselin Linstad Hauge (b. 1981) lives in Oslo and works with film, photography, and text. She got her BFA at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and an MA in film from the HDK-Valand - Academy of Art and Design in Gothenburg. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally, among other places at Nordic Outbreak (New York); Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art (Copenhagen); Hors Pistes, Centre Pompidou (Paris); the Norwegian National Museum (Oslo); Høstutstillingen (Oslo); and Tromsø Kunstforening. Her latest exhibition was at Drammen Museum. Hauge is also co-editor of the artist-run publication / publishing house Spesial Nord.
Jeg er mangfoldig, (2020)
Video, 11:40 min.
Jeg er mangfoldig is a digital animation that shows bacteria and fungi that are cultivated from samples taken from the artist’s own body: fingers, toes, ears, inside the mouth, the anus, etc. Half of the human body consists of microbes; so-called non-human organisms. Research now shows that bacteria can, to some extent, affect what we think and feel. In an occidental worldview, humans imagine that they are independent and separate from other life in nature. But bacteria challenge these concepts by showing that we are not individuals, but collectives inhabited by millions of organisms. There are several consciousnesses inhabiting a body.
Viktor Pedersen (b. 1988) works within several disciplines, such as performance, video, text, and sound. In his artistic practice he tries to approach non-human intelligence in order to explore how humans relate to nature. Pedersen makes use of animistic perspectives where he personifies other organisms or inhabits various roles as hybrid beings. In this way he is toying with the occident’s human centric perception of reality. He has a BA from the Academy of Arts in Tromsø, and an MFA from Oslo National Academy of the Arts. His work has been presented at, among other places, Høstutstillingen (Oslo, 2020), LIAF-Lofoten International Art Festival, and Small Projects (Tromsø, 2017).
Film, 20:11 min
Eva Bakkeslett is an artist, filmmaker, curator, and activist; she works in the intersection between art and ecology. Through film, social sculpture, interactive installation, workshops and lectures, she tells stories where ecology, coexistence, and sensory perspectives are important components. Her work brings attention and awareness to the relationships between humanity, nature, and culture as a living organism. Her film Bee from 2007 talks about the importance of these collaborative pollinating insects, their complex and intelligent way of life, and the artificial duality between culture and nature.
Eva Bakkeslett received her MA in Arts & Ecology from Darlington College of Art in Devon, England. Her work has been presented at numerous film festivals, at Høstutstillingen in Oslo, the Northern Norwegian Art Exhibition, and at MoMa in New York. She has previously exhibited at, among other places, Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes, Bellingham University Gallery in Washington, DOX Centre for Contemporary Arts in Prague, and at Pixelache in Helsinki. In 2010 she curated the ground-breaking exhibition, Gentle Actions, at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo.
Video 10:27 min
Science Fiction is a recurring theme in Jenna Sutela’s practice. The same goes for an encouragement to see non-human species as intelligent beings. The video work, Holobiont, considers the idea of embodied cognition on a planetary scale, featuring a zoom from outer space to inside the gut. It documents Planetary Protection rituals at the European Space Agency, undertaken in order to protect potential life on other planets in connection with the launching of space probes. The work also explores extremophilic bacteria in fermented foods as possible distributors of life between the stars. Bacillus subtilis, the nattō bacterium, plays a leading role; it is an extremophile, which means that it can survive in outer space. In addition, it is an important component in Japanese nattō – a probiotic Japanese dish that is believed to prolong life. Sutela has been concerned with exploring how potentially extra-terrestrial life might be part of our bodies, and how that might influence our consciousness through the relationship of the gut with the brain. The term 'holobiont' stands for an entity made of many species, all inseparably linked in their ecology and evolution.
Jenna Sutela (f. 1983) is an artist from Finland who works with text, sound, and living organisms. Through her audio-visual works, sculptures, and performances, she aims to identify and react to moments of insecurity and exposure, often related to technology, socially and materially. Sutela’s work has been presented at museums and other art contexts, such as Guggenheim Bilbao, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Moderna Museet, Serpentine Gallery, and Oslo Kunstforening.
A performance lecture about culture and life and death.
In connection with the opening of the film programme I am a Multitude at Havremagasinet, Eva Bakkeslett will give a performance lecture with her own works as a starting point. A central theme is how humans, nature and culture should be considered as one living organism. During this lecture we will meet a stromatolitt (a fossil of cyan bacteria from the beginning of life), a handful of worms from a compost bin, an ancient sour dough bacteria culture from Russia, an immigrant yoghurt who migrated from Armenia to New York a hundred years ago, and some lively potatoes who blur the borders between life and death.
I am a Multitude was curated by Karolin Tampere and Torill Østby Haaland, and produced by North Norwegian Art Centre in collaboration with The Arctic Arts Festival (Festspillene i Nord-Norge).
Supported by Nordic Culture Fund and Frame Contemporary Art Finland.