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Sergei Bugaev Afrika, "Illustrations to the Russian Book of Dead", 2012

Momentum – Nordic Biennial for Contemporary Art 0

The 7th Momentum Biennial
Moss, Norway
June 22 – September 29, 2013

Since its inception in 1998, Momentum biennial in Moss, Norway, has strived to present the most compelling works of art and the most interesting artistic ventures in the Norwegian and Nordic context. Today the biennial has established itself as one of the most important assemblies of contemporary art in the Northern Europe. 

This year Power Ekroth and Erlend Hammer have been invited to curate the biennial, which will consist of two separate parts, each with its own exhibition title and group of artists. Power Ekroth is curating the exhibition Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, but Erlend Hammer has produced a group show titled Dare 2 Love Yourself. Both Ekroth and Hammer work primarily in a way that relies on close collaboration with the artists, and both have a passion for curating exhibitions based on the selected artists rather than to create definite constraints for the artists to adapt.

Twenty-eight artists have been invited to participate in Momentum from Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Italy, Netherland, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Germany and USA. contacted curator Power Ekroth to learn more about the biennial and the exhibition Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Advocating a romantic thought about contemporary art being worth something beyond an economical value, or a simple marker of social stand, the exhibition Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast challenge the visitors stop for a second and think about what art may be and mean to a society.

It seems that the title of your exhibition stems from the novel Alice in Wonderland. How does it relate to contemporary art?

It is not really from Alice in Wonderland, it is from the second book, also by Lewis Carroll and about Alice, named Through the Looking-glass. The title relates to art, and contemporary art, in a very direct way. Often this is exactly what artists are doing while making art: thinking about impossible things. To me it is also a very human thing that I would like to encourage the audience of the exhibition to do, to try to think about at least six impossible things before breakfast every day. For me that is one of the few things that makes change possible, our ability to think about things that are not yet possible and try to make these things possible, induce changes in our immediate environment and change in a more political way. Utopian perhaps, but nevertheless, it is how innovations are being done. This is of course also how scientists are thinking: how to make the impossible possible?

The exhibition Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast intends to “embrace serious issues with a playful mind and a dash of humor”. Are you not concerned that because of this hint of humor, people will not take it seriously? Should it be taken seriously?

Humor can be a very effective means to make serious matter stand out, become clearer and also helps us to understand hidden things that might not be evident. I don't think that one thing excludes the other, to me it is important not to take things so super-seriously all the time, only then can we see the true colours of things. I do not see the state of affairs in the world as very optimistic at the moment, but even in the darkest hour the human being has not only the ability, but also the need, to smile about things. It is not only a way of shielding oneself of the horror, but it is also a way of making the situation clearer. I would say that on the contrary to what you are implying, the seriousness of the matter is not lessened, but instead sharpened by this dash of humor. 

Should the two exhibitions – Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Dare 2 Love Yourself – be regarded as two separate events or do they have a common ground? How does that influence the format of a biennale?

The parts are completely separated from each other even if they are installed in the very same building, however they both are parts of the biennial structure and both curators has sort of sharpened their differences rather than their similarities here. It is not extremely important that everyone in the audience understands that there are two different exhibitions, but somehow it will be evident for the visitor who wants to know a little bit more about it. The catalogue, for instance, is divided in two parts, one by the color code orange, and one in pink. Erlend's part of the exhibition is very classical in its approach, it has a lot of paintings and is using the existing spaces in a very moderate way, whilst my exhibition is more labyrinthical and includes many films for instance. I have included much more time-based material in Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast than Erlend has in Dare 2 Love Yourself.

What would you call the highlights of Momentum biennale and your exhibition?

The highlights is for the visitor to decide upon for themselves when they see the show... :) 

Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen. “Coffiest”.  2013

Johan Zetterquist. Detail of the “Proposal no 29, A Monument Celebrating the End of Capitalism as we Know It”. 2013

Stine-Marie Jacobsen. Video installation “Direct Approach”. 2013

Frank Schoenfeld. “Faces of Death”. Still from a video

Kira Bulik. “KRIEGERIN”. Still from a video