Arrivals/Departures is a discovery journey in the present tense — a world that is constantly changing where people are always heading back and forth somewhere, bringing their supply of memories in a suitcase.

Arrivals/Departures, Global Experiences in a Local Context
Molde (Norway), Jan. 19th – Feb. 24th 2008

The artist must immerse himself in his own anxiety, dredging up everything that is alien, imposed or personal in the derogatory sense, in order to arrive at the authentic zone of values. [Piero Manzoni, For the Discovery of a Zone of Images, 1957]

Exhibition’s Elapse Arrivals/Departures (A/D) is an orchestral work. Each artist with her or his distinct voice contributes in creating tones, with the premises of the gallery as a historical resonance room. The gallery is not only a container for the exhibition, but an integrated part of it. We can say that the exhibition has a site specific relation to the exhibit space.[1] During the course of the exhibition, you will find different works by the same artist in different connections. A/D doesn’t feature each work of art individually, but makes them interact in a dialectic manner. The works discuss each others content by mutual deconstruction. It is the content of each one of them in fact, which decides its place within the exhibition room. A/D circles between two extremes, represented by Gunn N. Morstøl’s video Karl in the basement, and My Best Friends by Cristina David on the ground floor. While the original Karl is a fragment of a pure, locally attached and obsolete world connected to agriculture, My Best Friends shows the hybrid, global aspect, i.e. the transient room often appearing as a non-place,[2] belonging to the present time. Both places are, nevertheless, an arena for encounters and acknowledgement. These perspectives are widened historically through the memory of Kurt Schwitters, the avant-garde artist who fell in love with Norway ( Room 3): You can see Hjertøya through the windows, where the cabin he rented up to 1940 is decaying. A/D develops through five themes or chapters, directly inspired by the works of art: In the hallway the visitor is received by two questions, suggesting that we are on a developing journey. Who are We? Where Do We Go?: Five small photos by Anne Berntsen tell us about the hesitation before a journey. To the left of the entrance a collection of images picked from internet gives a panoramic view of the last forty-fifty years of history and its impact on humankind (Paolo Manfredi). In the Back Seat (video 6’14”) by Liv Dysthe Sønderland, is a fantasy travel in time and space; A trunk of wood used as a bridge leads you into the next room through the orange painted door frame (Paolo Manfredi).[3] A fire-axe is stuck in one end of the trunk as a warning (a memory from working in the Norwegian woods). Perspectives is the chapter hinting towards our surroundings. Here, different points of view are opposed: The Portraits by Britt Sorte give a picture of the Norwegian rural district as a multicultural society; The camouflage dresses made by Heidi Rødstøl, describe the natural scenery as a background for human activity, but also as a refuge from the world, i.e. an area in which human perspectives cease. This ambiguity, which often implies an existential loneliness characterising modernity, is confirmed by Marianne Skjong’s paintings inspired by nature, and in a different scale also in Cristina David’s My Best Friends, a fictitious conversation with characters from the movie world. Within Habitations – Housing Problems (Room 3) the concept home is discussed: The four walls of a house represent a zoning between private and public space. Magnar Fjørtoft’s houses and Sada Tangara’s shacks report from two opposite worlds and very different socio-economic realities. In both cases we are nevertheless confronted with walls without apertures. The sentence Where is home (Hvor er hjemme), a braiding by Marianne Skjong, hangs as an additional comment to the photos. The window-frames pointing towards Hjertøya, are painted orange. Nearby you can read a short biography on Schwitters, the art comet living there in the Thirties inside a stone cabin, first as a tourist and later as a exile. Two of his poems from the period links together then and now with their raw actuality.

In the next room There Are Two Beds contemplates rest as an important aspect of human life – but also illuminates how our conception of the environment is based on social status and geographical origin. The chapter’s title is loosely inspired by The Republic, book 10 of Plato, in which Socrates and Glaucon discuss the notion of reality, its imitation, and the conceiving of the idea about things as foundation for human production of things.[4] Here you are confronted with two big interior photos by Anne Berntsen to your left; On your right a fascinating picture of a children’s body asleep with a grown man’s head (Magnar Fjørtoft) attached to it; Further along the wall in front of you there are three pictures of children sleeping on the street (Sada Tangara). From this chapter you move on through the hallway again, and down the stairs. The basement is dedicated to another part of our experience of the world, which contrary to what we have seen previous, deals with recollection. On your way down to Keepsakes, you are confronted with Devotion by Ingvild Fagerli (video 1’37”): A small, valuable detail from everyday creativity. Some steps ahead you see a photo from the island of Fjørtofta by Magnar Fjørtoft, signalizing that the journey continues, but this time as a lonely experience. On your right down the corridor you can sit down and listen to The Square (video 5’34”- in English without subtext) by Cristina David. It is the story about a mathematical problem solved after the death of the protagonist’s father. A hand playing with a toy bouncing between the edges of the screen. The song and the sound will lead you to the last part of the exhibition. The room you enter seems to be the cellar of an ancient residence house. These are the ideal surroundings for displaying Karl (video 15’03”- Romsdal dialect without subtext): An intimate portrait of an outsider in the local community. While the world of My Best Friends is coloured by the notion of global rootlessness, this video work shows that some individuals, despite being locally rooted, still may find it hard to adapt to their own community. In the same room, three pictures from the outskirts of Dakar (Sada Tangara) will jolt you back to the present.

Paolo Manfredi – curator
Pictures & texts from the exhibition here and here: Lokalisere kulturen: en erfaring

Notes ————-
[1] This exhibition contributes to a reviewing of the White Cube’s alleged purity, which concretely refers to a conception of art as a realm separated from world’s matters.
[2] «If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, concerned with identity will be a non-place.» «But non-places are the real measure of our time; with the aid of few conventions between area, volume and distance – by totalling all the air, rail and motorway routes, the mobile cabins called ’means of transport’ (aircraft, trains and road vehicles), the airports and railway stations, hotel chains, leisure parks, large retail outlets, and finally the complex skein of cable and wireless networks that mobilize extraterrestrial space for the purpose of a communication so peculiar that it often puts the individual in contact only with another image of himself.» Marc Augé, Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, Editions du Seuil 1992
[3] The colour orange stands out from its surroundings and demands attention. The colour is closely linked to the  world of work — for instance the off shore-industry. It is used in a consistent manner in this exhibition and in the catalogue as an allusion to this environment and with references to the maritime industry of Møre & Romsdal. Because art too is work.
[4] «Let us take any common instance; there are beds and tables in the world — plenty of them, are there not? Yes. But there are only two ideas or forms of them? One the idea of a bed, the other of a table. True. And the maker of either of them makes a bed or he makes a table for our use, in accordance with the idea – that is our way of speaking in this and similar instances – but no artificer makes the ideas themselves: how could he? Impossible. » Plato, The Republic, Book X

The exhibition was supported by: Fritt Ord, The Freedom of Expression Foundation – Oslo, Norway; Tingvoll kommune [Municipality of Tingvoll, Norway]; Norsk Kulturråd [Arts Council Norway]; The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest, Romania.