IN THE BEFORE OVER SHORE

for 

MOMENTUM 10: THE EMOTIONAL EXHIBITION

2019

 

In the before over shore is a silent communal writing ritual developed for the beach Bredebukt, at the southernmost tip of Søndre Jeløy in Moss (NO). Performed on selected dates throughout the Momentum biennale, each event takes 10-15 people.

The work is composed of a walk through the nature preserve between galleri F 15 and Bredebukt (approx. 10 mins each way), and a digital communal writing session, for the duration of an hour and a half in total. Once on site, it is possible to log on to a Local Area Network with a chatroom with personal mobile devices, while still remaining anonymous in the chat. A prepared text is performed by the artist in real-time in the chatroom. This text leads the focus and direction of the otherwise unscripted conversation. 8 symbols of protection are hand carved into two four-sided wooden benches, that circle two lit bonfires. Two buckets filled with sea water stand by the benches. 

 

With contributions by artists Damla Kilickiran, Hannah Mjølsnes and Valentina Desideri, and assistance and participation of the Momentum Blikkåpnere (age 16-19). 

Additional performance dates with conversations are scheduled for teen, family and school groups, in collaboration with Momentum educational and communications program.

 

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Elements gathered from the present day location, and relics from history still present on site inform the narrative that informs the chatroom conversation. The rare volcanic rock Rhomb-porphyry that lies scattered about on Bredebukt plays the protagonist in the narrative that spans geological epochs. The forest, a remnant of the historic Alby garden with its flora, has been scavenged by the artist for plants selected by Mjølsnes for their protective properties, and subsequently represented as drawings. 

The protective symbols are carved into the four corners of two, existing, wooden benches, sat around two fire pits on the beach. Facing in towards the fire, four of the symbols are protection of a physical kind, and four are symbols protecting and guiding in the immaterial. Together they are thought to give access to a history and tradition of magic or spiritual symbols, as well as to suggest a protection of the people, plant- and animal life on the beach from the biennale onwards. 

The act of carving them onto the benches channels the kind of stagnant aggression that I am interested to explore with this work. The gesture alludes to longing, love and the wish for their permanence. A literal mark of time in time, that will age and fade as the wooden surface is weathered. It suggests a spell has been cast or the workings of some cult — which are both interesting ways to me of thinking about the biennale in the context of Moss, as well as how the work will be present for biennale goers and townsfolk alike, this summer and indefinitely after.

 

In the context of ‘The Emotional Exhibition' I am looking to discuss anger and apathy as conditions of contemporary life, that reverberate through political language, our interpretation of recent historical events, and our projections into the future. Anger is the ‘clickbait feeling’ of our time. The beach with it's carvings, the chatroom, the fire, the ocean view, are all sites to vent, but with nowhere to go. The volcanic rock, symbolic for it's grounding and calming properties.

 

Telescoping outwards from from the word 'before'*, the work is designated time to freely, openly and anonymously think communally (expressed as one voice) about presence, time, anger and possible reconciliation. The session ends when the bonfires are extinguished with seawater.

*Informed by Raheedah Phillips’ ‘Dismantling the Master(s) Clock (Work Universe)’ as a strategy of Black Quantum Futurism that places the subject in a ‘time-free’ state, from where time can be thought differently. In example, on can both use ‘before’ to speak of being situated prior of something in time, and ‘a before’ as past.