When we had our first meeting in August last year to discuss what we wanted to do for our Bachelor project and the year that lay ahead of us, it seemed like an overwhelming, almost too open situation. In May something would have to be articulated and presented in public, that’s for sure. But how to reach that point and what it should be like – this was our task to define. We decided to start with the “yes-phase”, to open up for ideas without caring for realistic aspects at all. A suggestion to have a white cube exhibition on The North Pole came up. To make an event in Tokyo and to send our material to outer space were other suggestions. Susanne told us that her father works as a pilot for NATO, and therefore crosses the North Pole and other remote places regularly. Maybe he could help us getting there? Kjetil did some research on flights to Tokyo, and found out that there actually is a regular non-stop airline between Tromsø and Tokyo (although it has closed down now due to a lack of passengers). Erlend had already visited and prepared for a collaboration with a research station outside Tromsø where radio waves are sent to outer space in search for extraterrestrial life. Elisabeth contacted the coordinator of the university’s polar expeditions, and it seemed possible also for art students to join.
We did have great fun brainstorming, and I don’t think I was the only one who was surprised that our far out ideas didn’t seem so far from being possible to realize after all. And maybe this also was the reason why our excitement for the far out slowly faded and bounced back at ourselves and our micro-level desires and struggles of everyday life; the situation we are actually living in. Some weeks passed with a rather low energy, maybe confusion. Tina got into reading Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and started to produce sculptural bodies of text on paper. Sigrid disappeared into her studio, experimenting with smoke, dust and clouds. Elisabeth wrote a text on the mental state of being in motion, of losing oneself in the motion, or how a feeling of belonging, of being at home can be produced by this very motion when it becomes a rhythm. Tor Erik went back to the island where he was brought up, to reconsider his long time desire to make a large artistic intervention there, how to reconnect/confront his childhood home with who he has become. This was a time of reconsideration and dwelling upon, of hesitation and being rather silent.
I came back to Tromsø, having been away for some weeks. Susanne was sitting in her studio looking out of the window. I asked her what she had been doing since last time we met, and she answered; “Not much.” We needed to move on, advance, find some common ground again and get some action going together. We decided to make a publication in just one week’s time, with a reception and events at the end. We should make it as simple as possible, in order not to lose the light feeling of an open process and not take decisions that were too definite.10 Black and white A4-pages from each student were stacked in a pile and were printed into 100 double-sided copies. We held the reception event at Gallery 4235 in Tromsø. The publications were piled up on a table in the middle of the room. In a corner Alice placed a cardboard model house, whose ungraspable universe could be seen only through a peephole in the wall. Ida put a video documenting herself doing yoga at the bottom of a metal tube, the image floating in infinite blackness. Kaja and Susanne finally got over their hesitation and held their much talked about Mud Queen + Chat Roulette performance. Packed together in the intimate space, the audience became hypnotized by the mixture of mud, naked skin, pink sugar lollipops and the virtual appearance and disappearance of young boys from Brazil, Finland and wherever they were sitting by their computers, alone in their bedrooms horny for adventure. With the publication and our different gestures blended together, this evening we suddenly found a level and vibe to work from where what we did felt important. We had brought it all together and at the same time there was enough space for each of us.
In January we visited institutions and funding bodies in Oslo to prepare for life after school. It was just around this time that the minister of culture had announced that students from the new Academy in Tromsø wouldn’t be awarded a grant after finishing education, only students from the older academies were given this grant. We were moved and surprised by the strong commitment for our cause in the Oslo art community. For some of the students it became a wake up call to understand that there is a large community that cares about their situation and that
what they do is taken seriously. Soon this understanding was emphasized even further, when Tromsø-based businesses and institutions decided to cover up for the ministerial irresponsibility by funding the stipend from their own pockets. These gestures were very important experiences for us, and the spring became a time where we kept on working on our small and big tasks, never losing the challenging awareness of the fact that what we do will be received by a committed and curious community.
Along the journey we were fortunate enough to have several persons and groups help us bringing this large project to a brighter ending than we ever could have done by ourselves. We made our first encounter with NODE graphic designers during our study tour to Oslo, and we were lucky to have Anders Hofgaard and Andread Rød Skilhagen guide us during the development of the publication. Also Geir Haraldseth and James Hoff were of great assistance by sharing their knowledge and ideas about publications with us. Halvor Haugen helped the students with their written material. Nicolas Siepen, Unni Gjertsen, Kate McNamara, Børre Sæthre and Michel Auder have guided the students in their individual works. Helga Marie Nordby has shared her knowledge on curating with us. Trond Håvard Gamst and Nicolas Horne have been our indispensable technical guides, and Line Solberg Dolmen our coordinator throughout the whole production process. And without the constructive dialogue with Lita Ellingsen and Svein Ingvoll Pedersen at Tromsø Kunstforening, we would never have gotten very far.
The bachelor project in whole consists of an exhibition at Tromsø Kunstforening, a publication and three receptions in Kirkenes, Oslo and Venezia. It is important for us to share the result of the student’s three year long process with the community of Tromsø. We want to give something back and show our appreciation for the steady support we have gotten. Kirkenes and Finnmark are also important regions nearby, where we have made several projects and excursions. We would like to reconnect with the Oslo art community where we have experienced strong solidarity. Venezia we’ll visit to have a great ball. After all, that’s a pretty ok ending of an extraordinary journey.
No Problem is saying yes to a problem. Come Problem, yes! That’s where we begin.
Professor and supervisor for the 2010 – 2011 Bachelor project