Notes from the Nordic Summer University I

art, recent work, time-out

As July turned August, my Latvian Easter experience brought me further, to Oslo; from an intimate three days’ winter session, to one full week of intense exchange in a much larger group of practitioners and academics within the Nordic Summer University

It took two different trains, a replacement bus, and finally the ‘trikk’ (Norwegian for ‘tram’) to reach Rønningen folkehøgskole at the outskirts of Oslo.

The NSU is an independent academic institution, since 1950 nomadically alternating between venues in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Among its founders and early pioneers were Johan Galtung – principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies – and Nobel prize laureate physicist Niels Bohr. Already in its beginnings, the NSU manifested the idea of interdisciplinarity; and to this day, it has remained open and playful, yet academically stringent; and (not least) with an interestingly democratic organization, free from carrying much administrative weight.

Glimpses from Rønningen folkehøgskole, run by the YWCA/YMCA of Norway

At this NSU Summer session, ten ongoing study circles gathered around themes such as Urban Studies: Between Creativity and Power; Nordic Environmental Ethics; Decolonizing Social Work... and The experiential in artistic practice and research: methods, knowledges and reflective processes – Circle 7, that is, where I took part. (The eleventh circle is the famous Children’s circle, where participants’ kids gather to have a good time too, and sometimes to contribute to the evening programme.)

Some random pictures from Circle 7

There was a full schedule almost every day of the week: for each circle, three lectures/workshops daily, followed by a common cultural evening programme, or the gathering of NSU’s General Assembly (where decisions were taken on next year’s activities and new board members and other in-charge functions were elected). In between, we could benefit from taking a walk in the surrounding areas, take a fresh swim in the river Aker… and for one day off, make excursions in the city.

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…to be continued…

Photo credit: Elina Saloranta

Turning point

art

Summer solstice – a turning point of the year. White nights, light becoming warmth; fledging nestlings soon ready to take flight; flowers opening and closing, before turning into the secluded process of fruition…

For myself – a turning point in my professional life. The exhibition venue is cleared and cleaned, keys returned; four weeks of exhibiting are completed. As visualized through the hexagrams from the Book of Changes, completion – a state of perfect order – will last only for a fleeting moment… to be followed by the transition to something yet unknown. Today, disorder and hope are my companions. Reconsidering will carry me on.



Before Completion

art, recent work


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“This hexagram indicates a time when the transition from disorder to order is not yet completed.”

“BEFORE COMPLETION. Success.
But if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing,
Gets his tail in the water,
There is nothing that would further.”

“Fire over water:
The image of the condition before transition.
Thus the superior man is careful
In the differentiation of things,
So that each finds its place.”

I Ching / Book of Changes

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the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 26

art, curating, recent work, time-out

The first guests arrive twenty minutes before opening time, and from then I just need to stay in the flow – people coming and going all through the day… some chatting, some resting, moments of welcome feedback, many Q’s and A’s, some proper curating by a trusted colleague, a trained eye scrutinizing framing solutions… until, in the afternoon, all artworks are removed from one wall, and those who stay a little longer pick up charcoal and markers to leave some traces on the open surface. Finissage!

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 25

art, curating, recent work, time-out

Once more, the spatial arrangements seem to have settled; a node. A steady stream of visitors – human and canine – resulting in a day with few photos, tiny adjustments only, suggestions not fully realized… but also, shared observations, reminiscences, recognitions… And, yes: a spontaneous performance by Mireia Rocher – creating friction, sound and warmth by drawing an invisible line around the walls with a slip of sandpaper. A powerful act of artistic courage and love; a conceptualization; a protective spell. Thank you Mireia! Thank you, all friendly souls from nearby and afar!

 

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 24

art, curating, recent work, time-out

A lingering note from yesterday – the green feeling…

The first guest enters, dripping with rain, and makes herself at home. We compare experiences of how to balance red, blue and yellow into a floating grayness; of how to reconcile, to integrate, to pan for gold in the stream of time. Holding, and beholding, a connection beyond words. Another visitor uplifts some works of mine, turning them into a sculptural arrangement. Yet another shares his delight and hardships in trying to depart from representation in his painting practice. Newcomer or professional artist, self-taught or highly educated – what we experience is real.

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the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 23

art, curating, recent work, time-out

“Dare to be green!” A note left from one of yesterday’s evening guests greets me. Visitors come in small groups, we talk while moving things around; about the male gaze, and implications of setting frames and work titles – among other subjects. Meanwhile, I keep thinking about being green… What could it be?
A little later, Soundtower colleagues Karin, Katt and Julia arrive for a sounding session, with Margaretha and Åke joining in. A sonic meditation is followed by voice improvisations, lullabies and a love song, as Margaretha’s peony quietly blushes.


Then the large green canvas unfolds, just like spring bursts into full summer… Voices and violin take turns in responding. Daring, tapping into the green!

the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) / day 22

art, curating, recent work, time-out

There’s no way this day could be summarized in a few sentences. Moments shared; fully lived, not recorded. A lengthy, intimate dialogue; an almost wordless collaboration; follow-up surprises around the corner; a shared meal; an open, gracious exchange on faith and art from pagan, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and non-confessional perspectives. What could I say, other than: Thank You – Innar, Em…

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…Per, Maria, Marcus, Vladan, Omol, Nina, Minas, Elisabeth and Bengt!