Bergen Assembly has appointed three distinct positions to present separate projects. Artist Tarek Atoui will develop one part of the Assembly, while a second component will be convened by Rhea Dall & Kristine Siegel, founders of PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin. In parallel, freethought will produce a research, discourse, and display platform on “infrastructure”.
As a perennial model for artistic production and research, Bergen Assembly is structured around public events taking place in the city of Bergen every three years. The flexible model, reinvented for each edition, responds 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 tasked. The radical expansion of time-based art forms during the past decades is at once a symptom of this situation and the locus for a critical reflection on contemporary timescapes that may also inform the creation of new and more situation-responsive institutional structures.
To this end, Bergen Assembly outlines a model for a reflexive temporality, so as to open up to alternative timeframes, densities, and relational economies of production and experience.
In order to experiment with diverse forms of research strategies, the Bergen Assembly advisory board has invited Rhea Dall & Kristine Siegel of PRAXES and the artist Tarek Atoui to each convene their independent parts of the 2016 edition. The Assembly has simultaneously invited the group freethought to realize and stage the project “infrastructure”.
Tarek Atoui was born in Lebanon in 1980 and 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).
Founded in 2013 by Rhea Dall & Kristine Siegel, PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art is a not-for-profit venue for international art and research presenting half-year cycles of consecutive exhibition modules, publications, and live activities around two unassociated artistic practices. Located in Berlin, 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 came together in 2011 as a platform for research, pedagogy, and production. It is a collective of six persons (Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Louis Moreno, and Nora Sternfeld) who combine intellectual work with creative practice and large-scale public organization. freethought aims 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. By looking at many different understandings of this keyword—from the legacies of colonial and early capitalist systems of governance to current conditions of the financialization of the cultural field to the subversive possibilities of thinking and working with infrastructures as sites of affect and contradiction—“infrastructure” emerges as the invisible force of manifest culture today. By prodding the term with critical concepts gleaned from the study of management and political economy, from urbanism and visual culture, from performance and curating, freethought hopes to produce it as a series of events, publications, artistic commissions, and gatherings that will furnish it with multiple meanings and dissonant presences.
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.