Bergen Assembly 2016
6.2. Opening

Bergen Assembly is a perennial model for artistic production and research that is structured around public events taking place in the city of Bergen every three years. Originating from the “Bergen Biennial Conference” in 2009 and its critical thinking around the biennial format, the Bergen Assembly seeks to devise alternative timeframes, densities, and relational economies for public presentation and perception today. The flexible model is reinvented for each edition, responding in particular to a perceived need for alternative temporalities of art production and experience within an oversaturated information culture where attention itself is increasingly commodified and subject to pressure. Pointing to the multitude of practices in contemporary art and related research, the Bergen Assembly 2016 offers three distinct propositions, expanded and developed in different temporal registers by the artistic directors: Tarek Atoui, freethought, and PRAXES. Exhibitions, live events, and publications are continually introduced and produced throughout the year, with a convergence of activities taking place in September, 2016.

Opening on Saturday, February 6, 2016, PRAXES presents its two inaugural installments by Lynda Benglis and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, marking the beginning of a yearlong sequence of exhibitions, events, and publications at the Bergen Assembly.

Diving straight into her humorous rebuke of her male contemporaries, Primary Structures (Paula’s Props), (1975) by Lynda Benglis will be on view in Tårnsalen at KODE Art Museum of Bergen for three weeks. The installation—an odd collection of campy ready-made objects: velvet cloth, broken columns, a toy car, a ficus tree—is simultaneously a time-stamped (post-modern) face-off and a early foreshadowing of today’s installation art. A stand-alone work in an artistic practice that has continuously valued fast turns, foreign materials and wild experiments, this is the first of six exhibitions  tracing the grand gestures and unorthodox detours of Lynda Benglis.

Opening with a cruel craft party, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd invites audiences to participate in Iron Age Pasta Necklace Workshop, (2002–ongoing), a performance workshop presented for one night only at Bergen’s central event venue, Landmark. For this joyous Iron Age X-Factor, audiences create necklaces that are then ceremoniously judged by the Discerning Eye. Drawing inspiration from educational programs and the imagery of precious ancient crafts. The event is the first in a series of old and new performances by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, which will be conceived and developed throughout 2016. The Iron Age Pasta Necklace Workshop will be followed by an Opening Party at Landmark, hosted by Bergen Assembly.

Lynda Benglis (b. 1941, US) first gained recognition in the sixties with her poured latex and foam works, a precise retort to her minimalist contemporaries. Continuing her pioneering practice, she developed vibrant biomorphic shapes in a bold range of materials, expressing a deep concern for the physicality of form and how it affects the viewer. In Bergen, Benglis’s prolific production is distilled into single-work installations, reconstructions, group shows, and one-night screenings.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (b. 1973, UK) celebrates popular culture. She has adopted elements from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Miyazaki’s Catbus, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in exuberant collective performances and films that merge irreverence and joie de vivre. In Bergen, Chetwynd will create a new work presented in installments throughout the year, while a series of exhibitions-events probe her long-term involvement with social anthropology, humor, and performance traditions.

PRAXES

At PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin 2013–15, Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel presented half-year cycles of consecutive exhibitions, publications, and events, revolving around two unassociated artistic practices. For the Bergen Assembly, PRAXES expands the modular investigations to a full year and episodically inhabit a variety of sites throughout Bergen in an itinerant material discussion around the practices of Lynda Benglis and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.