Last September, at Space 4235, inaugurated Intermezzo, first solo show in Italy by Norwegian artists Øystein Larssen and Andreas Olavssønn Rongen. Intermezzo is “a collaborative project where the performative notions of self representation and artistic production are inflicted upon a site specific, social and spatial backdrop”.
We asked some questions to the artists.
ATP: In the press release we read that in this project “the performative notions off self representation and artistic production are inflicted upon a site specific, social and spatial backdrop”. Could you please tell me further about that?
Øystein Larssen and Andreas Olavssønn Rongen: Well, initially it’s an attempt to open up the idea of what a performance could be. Or, how to translate a performative attitude into the production of works that transitions between the private and public sphere. We spent two weeks in Genova, where our attempts of producing a show was overlapped by the fact that we obviously were tourists. And not very bright ones either; falling for every trick in the book, continuously misunderstanding, visiting the same shops day after day using pictures or mimicry to communicate, and getting lost on the way home. The boundaries between our artistic intentions and the different roles we were given, or choose to take, as social participants, gradually merged. Trough this self induced confusion we opened up the city for ourselves, mapping it by collecting or stealing objects left behind, carrying everything trough the streets, and trying to capture these ephemeral interventions in some meaningful way. These actions, perhaps insignificant, still serves as the foundation of our collaborative practice. Working on site and with the site, the social spheres of interaction are shaping factors for the works. Like including gestures in the show, that the gallerists need to repeat every day, or using the sidewalk as a studio. We don’t work from a self-biographical point of view, but clearly find interest in how our own positions and intentions influence the artistic choices we make – and how a performative attitude towards artistic production might lead to an escape from our preconceived ideas.
ATP: Which influence did the city of Genova have on the show? How would it have been different if you made it in another city?
ØLandAOR: The show is in some sense about Genova, or rather, about how it shaped and changed our project. Every movement, every interaction, every choice, and every material expands from this – where we are both participants and observers, consumers and producers. The relation towards the city, and the situations we walked blindly into, became a narrative that motivated the production of the show, and gave it a relevant context. To let ourselves be immersed in the situation was a crucial point, and what we initially were interested in examining. That way, the project could only happen once, and in Genova – but, the methodology could be recycled and imposed upon another city with a totally different outcome. Maybe.
ATP: Could you introduce us to the artworks in the show?
ØLandAOR: The show is compromised of a few different elements, some sculptural, some performative and others more pictorial – all collapsing into each other. We tend not to be media specific, rather attempting to create works that have some liminal qualities, transitioning from one media to another. In the main room of the show, this kind of attempt is visible in the stacks of plastic crates – where each crate is a closed composition of objects that we wore, used or collected from our walks. These sculptures, made from assemblages of materials that archives our attempts and sketches also became the scenography in a performance we did the day after the opening. This exemplifies our way of thinking about the works, that they could be different things depending on our interactions with them. Transitioning between two sculptures, an archive of ideas, seven assemblages or parts of a performance, the different roles of these works in some sense mimic our own malleable attitude when producing them. There’s also a bag of sand we brought with train from the beach, a textile work hand coloured with moss we scraped of walls and stairs around the city, a window painting, photographs from a tourist bus ride trough town, some stacks of euro cents we found on a train platform in Bogliasco (and recreated from memory), two wax carvings, and the keys to the gallery.
ATP: Above the gallery entrance you draw arrows pointing in different directions. Could you tell me more about this piece? Why did make it there?
ØLandAOR: It’s a fairly simple piece, that we’ve done some variations of in earlier projects. Called Culture blinds, these window paintings consists of a bacterial culture, in this case from yoghurt, that somehow obscures or redirects our gaze. The arrows in this painting were among our starting points for this project, and could represent this idea of movement trough terminologies, through the room, and trough the city. Seen from the inside of the gallery, the arrows contain the colours and dynamics of the buildings outside, whereas seen from the outside, a more static and clinical light fills them. There might be some criticality there, but it’s perhaps more interesting to see how a context changes depending on your physical viewpoint. The movements the arrows suggest is actually an instruction for how to correctly put on a life west. Seeing as we came from one harbour town to another, it seemed like a good idea to remind ourselves about that – if we somehow got ourselves into too deep waters.
ATP: Why did you decide to work in collaboration and how is it different from when you work individually?
ØLandAOR: We both come from the same town in Northern-Norway, and grew up as neighbours. So, we have some shared experiences, anecdotes and memories. Then we just happened to apply to the same art school, and it grew from there. The collaborative works and projects are a continuation of this, where we look for a language to intersect our experiences and cultural background into an artistic discourse. We are both interested in the performative aspects of artistic production, and how small gestures and interventions might have some aesthetic value – or at least a poetic one. But, we do not usually work in the same way. Where one might work from a literary perspective, the other works from a pictorial one – which is what makes the dynamic in the collaboration interesting.
ATP: Are you working on any new project?
ØLandAOR: Nothing concrete as of today, but we stared a new project when we were in Genova, which could follow us for some years. We usually meet up a few times a year to workshop and share ideas, and we try to do shows frequently. At the moment, we live in different countries, one researching and traveling, the other back in school. Maybe something could evolve from that?
Until October 17.