twitter facebook

Bergen Assembly: Monday Begins on Saturday or Give Us Something New! 0

Natalya Fedorova from Bergen

Bergen Assembly 2013
Monday Begins on Saturday
31 August–27 October 2013

Bergen Assembly is now open to the public. It is a new name and new model for the planned triennial in Bergen. The first edition of the Bergen Assembly is a contemporary rewriting of Boris Strugatskys novel "Monday Begins on Saturday" (1964), conceived as an archipelago of fictitious research institutes. Ekaterina Degot and David Riff are the conveners for the first edition of this event and they mainly put focuss on Russian artists.

You would not expect to encounter contemporary art in modest Bergen, once a fishing town with a thousand-year history and realist sculptures on the streets. Rather you’d be likely to see an expensive opera production of Peer Gynt by Edward Grieg who was born here and whose cult has given rise to a good half of the local sculptures. Yet economic growth dictates certain rules for prestige.  Contemporary art is not necessary for Bergen the same way documenta is for Karlsruhe or the biennale for Venice: the city needs it as a not-so nouveau-riche needs a title.

Ekaterina Degot and David Riff, curators ofthe Bergen Assembly

In Bergen, there are no abandoned factories or workshops that could serve as a location for a biennale and dictate its narrative as it as at the First Industrial Biennale in Ekaterinburg (the previous common project of the conveners Ekaterina Degot and David Riff). Here there are no Stakhanovites and no shockworkers. On Sundays, all the shops stay unanimously closed and the average working day is over by four o’clock. This unanimity should not be confused with the collectivism characteristic of the countries of the socialist camp: it is a consensus of individuals. There is a developed network of small cultural institutions that are closely following the contemporary critical discourse in their area.  In this, they are helped by full or partial financing from the state. In the words of Henriette Gallus, communications director of the Bergen Assembly, it is one of the positions that relates the book by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, “Monday Begins on Saturday” to its embodiment “by way of magic” constructed in imagined space.  


On a Saturday morning, 31 August 2013, eleven more or less well-known institutions of Bergen will change their signs and turn in to eleven branches of NIICHAVO, the Scientific Research Institute of Conjuring and Magic  from the novel by the Strugatsky brothers. The same one where the learned enthusiasts, overcoming certain bureaucratic obstacles, are learning about human happiness. And they are doing it without any days off: after all, Monday begins on Saturday. The following institutions will open their doors to visitors: the Institute of eht Disappearing Future (Bergen Kunsthalle), Institute of Anti-Formalism (KODE 4), Institute of Imagined Countries (KODE 1), Institute of Tropical Fascism (Rom 8), Institute of Love and Its Insufficiency (KNIPSU), Institute of Political Hallucinations (Entree), Institute of Zoo-Politics (USF),  Institute of Endless Accumulation (3,14), Institute of Bumps and Prison Bread (Øste), Institute of Lyrical Sociology (School Museum), Institute of Preventive Magic (Bergen Kjøtt).


Kunsthalle, for instance, will turn into an Institute of Disappearing Future. In the collective of its junior scientific collaborators, there are such comrades as Kilangi Kia Khenda, Gennadi Donskoi and Mikhail Roshal (the “Gnezdo” group), Ritvik Gatak, Uriel Orlov, Minze Tummeshait and Arne Hektor, Constance Schmidt, Ivan Melnichuk and Olexander Burlaka (the “Predmetiv” group), Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Pelin Tan i Anton Vidokle.  The disappearing future will be materialized by comrade Marius Tarkavian, whose task it is to photograph the industrial exhibition in four halls. Two weeks before the end of the work of the assembly, these four halls will close and a fifth one will open that was closed all that time. There the pictures of the four-hall exhibition will be shown.

The rest you’ll find in subsequent reports from the Assembly.