1. The Partisan Café
Conceived by Nora Sternfeld in collaboration with artists Isa Rosenberger and Jenny Moore. Realised by artists and educators Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Johnny Herbert, Jenny Moore (coordinator), Arne Skaug Olsen during the Bergen Assembly, September 2016.
The Partisan café was an educational/performative/artistic practice as a coffee house in the Museum of Burning Questions – a Para-Museum realised in collaboration with the artist Isa Rosenberger – and one performative platform of the freethought infrastructure project. Located in the occupied historic fire station of Bergen the Partisan café was host as much as guest. It was a shared space and a contact zone. As educators and café workers we thought about radical hospitality. As guests of the resident firefighters we thought about reciprocities and commonalities.
The title ‘Partisan Café’ was related to a choice: partisan instead of participation. It borrowed directly from “the Partisan Coffee House” – a space for gatherings, conversation and debate in London Soho in the late 1950s, organised by the New Left.
PROGRAMME IN THE PARTISAN CAFÉ
During the five weeks of Bergen Assembly 2016 (1 September – 1 October 2016), the Partisan Café hosted a programme of events, discussions, screenings and music curated by freethought to explore the political, urban and cultural dimensions of our infrastructural condition. Another dimension of the Partisan café was a programme that grew out of investigations and desires of the artists Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Johnny Herbert, Jenny Moore,and Arne Skaug Olsen in collaboration with local actors, regular guests and their individual performative and/or educational practices. This programme was made manifest through foam making, film screenings, a feminist reading group, beer labelling, poetry readings to calypso soundtracks, real-time investigations of infrastructural resonances, coffee bean grinding, an online radio station, a sex education workshop, table shuffeling, secret whisky tippling, listening sessions and dance sessions, after-hours band practice, concerts, floor mopping, re-stocking the fridge, interviews, performances, conflict resolution meetings, self-publishing workshops etc.
The programme curated by freethought in collaboration with Brandon LaBelle, artist and Professor in New Media at Bergen Academy of Art and Design, followed four strands:
THE IMAGINARY REPUBLIC
Curated by Brandon LaBelle
The Imaginary Republic looked at questions of public life and civic culture in today’s European environment, and how economic, social and political unrest over the last 10 years have led to an intensification of grass-roots initiatives, artistic activism, and forms of public commoning. The project positioned itself as a creative and critical dialogue within this context, and aimed to investigate strategies and formations of dissident imagination – a thinking and doing beyond.
Curated by Louis Moreno
What does citizenship and the right to the city mean in the early 21st Century ? This strand asked is the realm of infrastructure simply the extending space of economic domination and technocratic expertise, or does it contain within it the possibility for ‘amateurs’ to confront and overcome the cultural logic of neoliberalism and financialisation ?
Curated by Nora Sternfeld
This strand considered the tables and worlds between us, curating and institutions as assemblies and about how to come together and disassemble from within.
Curated by Louis Moreno and Jenny Moore
How do we perceive infrastructure? In this strand we sought to go beyond the visual spectrum to think about how music and sound open up a different sense of what defines our infrastructural condition.
Another dimension of the Partisan café was a programme that grew out of investigations and desires of the artists Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Johnny Herbert, Jenny Moore,and Arne Skaug Olsen in collaboration with local actors, regular guests and their individual performative and/or educational practices. This programme was made manifest through foam making, film screenings, a feminist reading group, beer labelling, poetry readings to calypso soundtracks, real-time investigations of infrastructural resonances, coffee bean grinding, an online radio station, a sex education workshop, table shuffeling, secret whisky tippling, listening sessions and dance sessions, after-hours band practice, concerts, floor mopping, re-stocking the fridge, interviews, performances, conflict resolution meetings, self-publishing workshops etc.
3. The City Seminar on Infrastructure
Since February 2015 freethought has been running a regular City Seminar in Bergen focusing on expanding the notion of infrastructure towards the management of subjectivity and of human labour. The seminar meets at the Public Library of Bergen or at the Literaturehaus for a day of reading and discussion. This form of public collective study forms a curriculum around our shared concerns and introduces a curatorial model achieved through collective public study, research and discussion. In the evening of the seminar day freethought invites… hosts a dinner for the city and a guest lecture aimed at opening up the seminar discussions to wider audiences. Among the distinguished guests hosted have been Territorial Agency, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Tom McCarthy, Laurence Rassel and others.
2. The Infrastructure Summit
THE INFRASTRUCTURE SUMMIT
Sat 3.9.2016, 10.30AM– 2AM
Sun 4.9.2016, 11AM – 6PM
Things that surround us, Public in Private / Clément Layes
Fri 2.9.2016, 8PM
USF Verftet, Bergen, Norway
freethought‘s programme for the 2016 Bergen Assembly launches with The Infrastructure Summit, a two-day discursive and performative event with internationally renowned writers, curators and artists investigating the nature of infrastructure in times of economic disparity, ecological catastrophe, expulsion and forced migration. Talks and intensive discussions led by the freethought collective are complemented by food, film, live performance and music.
10.30AM– 6.30PM Presentations and discussion from Irit Rogoff, Adrian Heathfield, Elizabeth Povinelli, Tom McCarthy, Massimiliano Mollona, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Nora Sternfeld, Fred Moten, Wu Tsang, Hypatia Vourloumis, and Stefano Harney.
11AM – 6PM Presentations and discussion from Tiziana Terranova, Louis Moreno, Andy Merrifield, Stefano Harney, Arjuna Neuman, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Ranjit Kandalgaonkar and The Partisan Café: Nora Sternfeld, Jenny Moore, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Johnny Herbert, and Arne Skaug-Olsen.
Aside each day’s programme of presentations and discussions, The Infrastructure Summit hosts several performative, reflective and communal moments over the weekend:
The debut screening of a new anime film Delete Beach, produced for The Bergen Assembly by artist Phil Collins, will take place in Cinemateket USF. Combining elements of sci-fi and fantasy, the film imagines the infrastructural future of a Bergen without oil.
The Norwegian premiere of Things that surround us, a performance by Public in Private / Clément Layes, takes place in the black box of Studio USF in partnership with BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen). Challenging the complex choreography of everyday life and our habitual relationships with objects, seemingly inert gadgets are brought to life, subconscious routines are shattered and new relations to the world are formed.
Conceived specially for The Infrastructure Summit, INFRASONIC is a night of electronic music in Sardinen USF inspired by and exploring the sonic dimensions of the infrastructural condition with a multimedia live performance from electronic and dub composers Hallucinator (Edward George and Anna Piva), a live set from artist Hannah Sawtell, plus DJ sets from Paul Purgas and Louis Moreno (freethought).
On both days of The Infrastructure Summit, lunch is provided by TASC Ablett & Brafield. Bergen-based artists Amber Ablett and Stacy Brafield’s work and research is based around social choreography; they are currently running TASC Studio Kitchen, located within Hordaland Kunstsenter (Bergen, Norway), which operates as a café, a space for investigation and a studio for thoughts.