Jean Dubuffet: L'Art Brut a prfr aux arts culturels

jean dubuffettondo

The Compagnie de l'Art Brut was formed in June 1948 initially to manage the collection of artefacts held at the Galerie Drouin, and in addition, to promote the exhibition of works embodying similar tendencies but produced by professionals artists. Founder members, as well as Dubuffet, included Andr Breton and Michel Tapi. 'L'Art Brut prfr aux arts culturels' was the title of the group's major exhibition held at the Galerie Drouin in October and November 1949. It included over 200 works by sixty-three artists. Dubuffet's essay constituted the Preface to the catalogue, and came to be regarded as the group's manifesto. Reprinted in Dubuffet (Prospectus et tous crits suivants, Paris 1967), from which the present translation is made. (Art in Theory, 2003)


Anyone who undertakes, as we do, to look at the works of the Irregulars, will find his notion of the approved art of the museums, galleries and salons- let us call it cultural art- totally transformed. This type of approved art will not seem representative of art in general, rather merely the activity of a particular clique: a cohort of careerist intellectuals. What country lacks its small clique of cultural arts: its troop of careerist intellectuals? It is obligatory. From one capital to another, they ape each other marvellously; they practise an artificial, Esperanto art tirelessly copied everywhere. Is art the right word? Does it actually have anything to do with art?
It is fairly widely thought that in considering the artistic production of intellectuals one is at the same time grasping the flower of production in general, since intellectuals, being drawn from the common people, cannot lack any of their qualities, having rather those additional qualities acquired by wearing out their trousers on the schoolroom bench- without allowing for the fact that intellectuals think themselves by definition far more intelligent than ordinary people. But is this really so? One also meets plenty of people with far less favourable opinion of the intellectual type. The intellectual type seems to them directionless, impenetrable, lacking in vitamins, a swimmer in pap. Empty, without magnetism, without vision.
Perhaps the solid seat of the intellectual has been pulled out from under him. The intellectual's labours are always carried out while seated: at school, at conferences, at congresses. Often while dozing; sometimes while dead. Dead in one?s seat. For a long time, intelligence has been highly valued. When one says of someone that they are intelligent, has not said everything? Nowadays people are growing disillusioned with this; they are beginning to demand other things. Intellectual qualities are less prized. People now value health and vitality. One can see that what was called intelligence is nothing more than a modicum of knowledge in the manipulation of simple, false and pointless algebraic formulae, having nothing to do with genuine vision (but rather obscuring it).
One cannot deny that on the level of vision, the light of the intellectuals is far from bright. The imbecile (or those the intellectual calls imbeciles) shows greater aptitude. It might even be that this vision gets worn out by the school benches, along with the seat of the intellectual?s pants. Imbecile perhaps, but sparks fly from him, unlike Mr Grammar School, who doesn?t spark at all. Good for the imbecile! He is our man! [...]
There are still people, particularly the intellectuals, who do not clearly see that the intelligent are hopeless cases, and one needs to rely on the so-called imbeciles for moments of lucidity; indeed, they just laugh at the idea. They cannot take the idea seriously.
The intellectual is of course crazy about ideas; he loves to chew them over, and cannot imagine any type of chewing gum.
One can with justification call art a chewing gum totally devoid of such ideas. One can sometimes lose sight of this. Ideas, and the algebra of ideas, may be a level of knowledge, but art is another means of knowledge, whose levels are completely different: they are those of vision. Ideas are an inert gas. It is when vision in blinded that the intellectual pops his head up.
Art exists to be a way of operating that does not involve ideas. When it is mixed with ideas, art becomes oxidized and worthless. Let there be as few ideas as possible! Ideas do not nourish art!
There are people (the present writer for example) who go so far to maintain that the art of these intellectuals is false art, the counterfeit currency of art, which is intricately ornamented but unsound.
Certainly the ornament is of some slight interest, but whether it sounds true is more interesting. Many slight works, brief, almost lacking form ring very loudly indeed; and for that reason they are preferable to many monumental works by illustrious professionals. It is enough for certain people just to tell them that the creator of a work is a professional artist, so that the spell is immediately broken. Amongst artists, as amongst card-players or lovers, professionals are a little like crooks. [...]
True art is never where it is expected to be: in the place where no one considers it, nor names it. Art hates to be recognized and greeted by its name. it runs away immediately. Art is a person in love with anonymity. As soon as it?s unmasked, as soon as someone points the finger, it runs away. It leaves in its place a prize stooge wearing on its back a great placard marked ART, which everybody immediately showers with champagne, and which the lecturers lead from town to town with a ring through its nose. That is the false Art. That is the art that the public knows, the art of the prize and the placard. The real Mrs Art no one recognize. She walks everywhere, everyone has met her, jostled her at very junction, but no one thinks it could be her, Mrs Art herself, of whom so much has been said. She does not have the right air about her. You see, it is the false Mrs Art who has the air of being the true one; it is the real one who lacks this air. That means that one is deceived! So many people deceive themselves! It was in July 1945 that we undertook in both France and Switzerland, then in other countries, methodical research into the relevant ways of producing that which we now call Crude Art.
We understand by this works crated by those untouched by artistic culture; in which copying has little part, unlike the art of intellectuals. Similarly, the artists take everything (subjects, choice of materials, modes of transposition, rhythms, writing styles) from their own inner being, not from the canons of classical or fashionable art. We engage in an artistic enterprise that is completely pure, basic; totally guided in all its phases solely by the creator?s own impulses. It is therefore an art which only manifests invention, not the characteristics of cultural art which are those of the chameleon and the monkey.
Before concluding this essay we want to say a word about the mad. Madness gives man wings and helps his power of vision; many of the objects (almost half) that our exhibition contains are works by people in psychiatric hospitals. We see no reason to segregate them, unlike others. All the numerous dealings that we have had with our friends have convinced us that the mechanisms of artistic creation are the same in them as in so-called normal people. This distinction between normal and abnormal seems to us to be quite far-fetched: who is normal? Where is he, your normal man? Show him to us! The artistic act, with the extreme tension that it implies, the high fever that accompanies it, can it ever be considered normal?
Finally, mental 'illness' are extremely diverse- there are almost as many of them as there are sick people- and it seems quite arbitrary to label them all in the same way. Our point of view is that art is the same in all cases, and there is no more an art of the mad than there is an art of the dyspeptic, or an art for those with bad knees.

Dubuffet at Louisiana, Humlebk, Denmark

Arrivals/Departures, Global Experiences in a Local Context: CATALOGUE

side 2 copy

Curator: Paolo Manfredi (IT 1968)

Supervisor: Tone Olaf Nielsen (DK 1967)

Artists: Anne Berntsen (NO 1967); Britt Sorte (NO 1957); Cristina David (RO 1979); Gunn N. Morstl (NO 1963); Heidi Rdstl (NO 1973); Ingvild Fagerli (NO 1968); Liv Dysthe Snderland (NO 1967); M. Fjrtoft (NO 1957); M. S. (NO 1958); Sada Tangara (ML 1981) & Kurt Schwitters (DE 1887-GB 1948)

Writers: Adriano Bugliani (IT 1967); Erlend Hammer (NO 1978); Olaug Haugen (NO 1964)

The Exhibition at KMR, Molde Norway- Jan19th / Feb24th 2008

Room 1: Who Are We, Where Do We Go?
Anne Berntsen; Liv Dysthe Snderland; Paolo Manfredi

kunsthall molde 01

kunsthall molde 08

kunsthall molde 13

kunsthall molde 06

Room 2: Perspectives
Britt Sorte; Cristina David; Heidi Rdstl; Marianne Skjong

kunsthall molde 30

kunsthall molde 31

kunsthall molde 32

kunsthall molde 27

Room 3: Habitations (Housing Problems)
Magnar Fjrtoft; Marianne Skjong; Paolo Manfredi [& Kurt Schwitters]; Sada Tangara

kunsthall molde 22

kunsthall molde 29

kunsthall molde 28

kunsthall molde 19

Room 4: There Are Two Beds
Anne Berntsen; Magnar Fjrtoft; Sada Tangara

kunsthall molde 17

kunsthall molde 16

kunsthall molde 15

kunsthall molde 09

Room 5: Keepsakes
Cristina David; Gunn N. Morstl; Ingvild Fagerli; Magnar Fjrtoft; Sada Tangara

kunsthall molde 37

kunsthall molde 40

kunsthall molde 38

kunsthall molde 41

kunsthall molde 44

Arr/Dep (catalogue) Acknowledgements


I wish to thank all the artists and friends who has contributed to this project, especially Tone Olaf Nielsen who has given a structure to the work with devotion and competence; Jorunn Veiteberg and Sissel Lillebostad at KHiB, for giving methe opportunity to develop my project.

This labour is dedicated to my wife, Marit Linberg: without her support it would have been impossible to realize it.
This catalogue is published with the support of Fritt Ord, The Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo, Norway.
kaskrakkminiPaolo Manfredi
fritt ordlogo mini

Arr/Dep (catalogue): "Freedom's Gate" by Kurt Schwitters

schwitterstondoYour passport please.

You are German.


A German citizen.


Born in Hannover.

Not a matter of choice, I assure you.

You speak Norwegian very well.

A little, not so well.

You are a spy, perhaps.

Is that a question?

You have been to Norway before.250012

Yes, often.

'36, '35, '34 . . .

I spend summers on Moldefjord,

I love it there.

It is not summer now, Herr ...


It is not summer now, Herr Schwitters.

Yes. No.

Your stay will be a short one?

I don't know.

Like the others?

A holiday, yes.

But you don't know how long.


You are not seeking asylum?merzbau3320

No, I hope to return home.

You are not a member of the Nazi party.


Any other party?


You belong to no party.

Yes. No.

You will fill out these forms please.


You will report to the police, this address,

tomorrow morning at nine.


You understand, failure to report will mean . . .

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Welcome, Herr Schwitters, to the land of freedom!

(Translation: Colin Morton)

2650056Merzbau at Hjertya

Kurt Schwitters, b. Hannover, Germany, June 20th 1887 - d. Kendal, England, January 8th 1948

Schwitters is surely one of the most influential artists of 1900. His work ranges from collage to sound art, from painting to installations/sculpture, from poetry to typography.

After discovering Norway during a cruise in 1929 Schwitters passed various summers here from 1930, painting landscapes in Geiranger at Djupvasshytta and on Hjertya Island near Molde, where he hired a stone hut from 1932. The inside of the building is frequently regarded as a Merzbau* but the hut has been more or less left to rot since 1940.

With consolidating of nazism in Germany in 1930s, life began to be more and more intolerable. The "suspicious" activities of Schwitters and many of his close friends and colleagues, finally forced Schwitters to leave Germany for Norway in January of 1937, barely avoiding arrest (officially stated as a request for an interview) by the Gestapo. The same year 13 of his works were confiscated from various museums and four of them included in the infamous "Degenerate Art Exhibit" (Entartete Kunst) in Munich.

His son, Ernst, had also been in jeopardy for some time and had left Hannover via Hamburg for Oslo in the early hours of December 26th 1936, thereby preceding his father's immigration by several days.

While being in exile in Lysaker nearby Oslo, Schwitters started a second Merzbau, that was subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1951.

When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, father and son were again on the move, travelling further to the north. After a short period of internment on the Lofoten Islands, Schwitters fled to Great Britain on the same boat as the Norwegian Government, and was initially interned in Douglas Camp, Isle of Man, for eighteen months.

After their release, Schwitters and his son lived in and around London, but he suffered a stroke and retreated finally to Ambleside (Westmorland) in the Lake District in June of 1944. Meanwhile, Schwitters, who enjoyed notoriety in England and the United States, continued his work, attempting to recreate his destroyed assemblages. In 1945 his wife died in Hannover.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York which had exhibited his works since 1936, provided him a grant to recreate the Merz Column. In August 1947, he began to work on the last Merzbau, which he called the Merz Barn.

His exile in Norway, followed by his escape from the German troops to England, where his isolated position, from which he already suffered back in Norway, did not improve significantly. While the degenerate and difficult conditions of his internment resulted in extensive physical and emotional scars, the war and subsequent exile from Germany left him destitute and disoriented in the most literal sense.

After prolonged illnesses, Schwitters died in Kendal on January 8th 1948.

The Merzbau in Hannover was a fantastically constructed interior, as bewildering as it was abstract. The walls and ceiling were covered with a diversity of three - dimensional shapes and the room itself was crowded with materials and objects - or "spoils and relics", as Schwitters himself put it - which were contained in countless nooks and grottoes, some of them totally obstructed by later additions to the work, with the result that their contents then existed only in one's memory of the Merzbau in one of its former states. The Merzbau was - "on principle" - an uncompleted work and continued to grow, changing constantly.

(Web-patchwork by P.M.)

Arr/Dep (catalogue): "Roads"


The road opens up towards the surrounding world.

At the same time it leads the world towards our local


The road leads us towards somewhere, but at the

same time away from somewhere.

The road turns, and divides. We can choose where to

go, or stay where we are.

If we seek out, we lose our local roots. By not

seeking out, we loose our surroundings.

Footpaths, curved mining roads, motorways,

electronic roads. Physical movement and mental


The map gives us an overview. At the same time it

represents a simplified image of the roads,

conveying nothing about what takes place around

them. Or our experience of the adjoining scenery.

When we move towards the unknown - over the

mountain or across the sea - we bring our own

conceptions, and regard unfamiliar surroundings


M. Fjrtoft

Arr/Dep (catalogue): "People Power"


Well, nobody's perfect
Joe E. Brown to Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot.

The problem with power is that it always seems to be alien to us. We know that we may exert it because we are used to the idea that we fall into temptation, even though many of us no longer believe in God. Nevertheless, the temptation of power and its downfalls are judged differently from those concerning money or sex. It is unlikely that none of us has ever committed a transgression in terms of money, however small; and it is impossible that none of us has ever exceeded the limits of sex: we need to cheat, in our imagination at least. These ordinary transgressions are condemned, but tolerated.

However, comprising power is not considered an everyday thing, and it is not tolerated. It is judged harshly, without exception. Downfalls regarding money can be a sign of intelligence, and those regarding Eros may even inspire fondness. Total uprightness does not. On the contrary, the abuse of power seems to be totally negative. There are many everyday, perhaps indispensable transgressions, because they underline our common humanity: double parking, not paying taxes, lying. Who has never desired the woman or man of another? On the contrary, figures in power - politicians, capitalists - tend towards exceptionality. The average person acknowledges their sins, but not those concerning power. I submit to power, I don?t inflict it. Power is on-high, far-off. No-global campaigners are convinced that President Bush and the multinationals exercise much more power than them, and much worse, who would dare to deny it? No, in all likelihood, they think they don?t exert any power, except what is minimum and good.

But here I'm talking about bad power. No one is ashamed of being a good representative of the people, educator or parent. Instead, very few admit that they are bad parents because they abuse their power over their children ? that is, when they use it as an end unto itself. Parents recount that they lose their patience, they're tired, they don't give their children enough attention, not that they oppress them more than is inevitable, and beyond all reason. Because we know that power is an end unto itself. And yet common sense fails to acknowledge that oppressing others and even family members is part of our ordinary baggage of faults. Power is inflicted on me more than I inflict it on others. I am the one who is victim to, subject to, exploited by power.

Betrayal and cheating can stay in the world, but socio-political utopia would like oppression to disappear. The plan for a free and just world means purifying humanity of power, and the intensity of this ideal reveals that it is thought to be real. Not that humanity can free itself from all its stains. We know that some torments will never leave us, and to understand this all we have to do is experience long-term, intimate relationships. On the contrary, the majority think that humanity can become inhuman with regard to power, and indeed this is what they hope for. The inhumanity of the absence of power. Nevertheless, Hobbes claimed that power resides in the people, the ones who give the sovereign authority. In the Leviathan he writes that every particular man is Author of all the Soveraigne doth; and consequently he that complaineth of injury from his Soveraigne, complaineth of that whereof he himselfe is Author; and therefore ought not to accuse any man but himselfe. Hobbes says that power is ours, and we cannot shirk it. Democracy completed the job, because there are no longer any sovereigns upon whom to place the prerogative of power. In theory, and in part in reality (since we vote), we are the power.

The contradiction comes about from the fact that power has not lost its negative quality now that it is close to us. There is an almost pathological split between the reality of power, that is, also its democratisation, and our enduring repulsion towards it. The distinction between subjects and sovereign remains, but its perception is mystified now that there are only voters and representatives. (And we fail to underline that fathers and mothers have always exerted power over their children). The difficulties of democracy and its political class are a screen allowing the people to hide that the situation has changed: the problem is no longer that the people have no power, but that they do. Evidently, it is not simple to separate good from bad power: it is a distinction that exceeds human possibilities. We do not demand love and friendship to be pure, and we accept relationships of affection despite their faults. (Psychotics do not accept that people are good and bad at the same time and therefore lurch between exaltation and contempt for others). Love for children can be possessive and susceptible. The perfect parent does not exist, and if they did, they would do damage. But let's not deny the value of being parents or friends even though we can't be perfect. (Who would want the perfect friend, and what would they be like?)

Instead we expect power to be perfect, which it is not. Unlike other situations, which alternate between black and white, power must be deprived of its disturbing side. Dark power does not belong to me, or to just people. In close relationships we quickly lose our illusions of perfection, while from society we continue to expect absolute justice, enlightened government. But why do we set ourselves an ideal precisely where it is most difficult to achieve? Everyone is capable of loving, in one way or another. And yet we do not cherish false hopes as to love. Why do we place our expectations of absolute happiness upon power instead of upon love? After all, power is a mere capacity without contents, an instrumental energy. We deceive ourselves into believing that it is full, but it is empty. (Power over children would not make sense if it was not at the service of love). Finally, why is it so difficult to accept that this emptiness- which Freud calls Thanatos- is part of us alongside Eros? There is no good emptiness, nor any human who is full of love alone. Power is a tool, and when it is not, becoming an end unto itself, it becomes evil. Not insofar as it is at the service of evil, but because it is at its own service. Unfortunately, no one is able to keep it to the exclusive service of love, because no one is perfect, in this as in other circumstances. It is inevitable that power will fulfil its monstrous possibilities in each of us, more often than we may care to think.

Bugliani (philosophy researcher, University of Florence)

Arr/Dep (catalogue): "Women Setting Things in Motion"


You see some women from Tingvoll - women setting our local region in motion. But what are they moving?

Is it power and decisions - about which direction to develop our local community?

Is it our attitudes - and who shapes our presentation?

Is it our emotions - that we have an opportunity and a responsibility to influence our society, as individuals?

We observe that these women make a difference - something that many of us are able to do.

We constitute our local community through our choices.

We are personally responsible for these choices, and in a small community these choices become very important.

We are both vulnerable and powerful.

We act in close relations, but we are part of the bigger scheme.

One of the pictures shows my daughter Maria. Her father is from West Africa. I hope she will remain confident in her multicultural background, and that she will be met as an individual with her strengths and weaknesses. People are not categories.

The global world is a part of everyday life. The Ivory Coast in West Africa is the world's largest producer of cocoa.
My children's uncle produces cocoa. He has seven small children. Is there a part of his cocoa in my cup?
When I buy cocoa in the shop here in Tingvoll, I check the price. What's the price at the international cocoa stock exchange? When I pay 12.90 NOK pr. package, what was his wages? What was his daily income when the cocoa costs 2.90 NOK pr. package? My world is his world.

The father of my children works in West Africa. France contributes to the destabilization of West Africa because French economical interests are at stake, and the president is opening the country to other economical Great

Powers. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens in the Ivory Coast demonstrated against France. As a result of

this, French military troops attacked the civilians in the capital Abidjan, killing women and youngsters. An act made by the old colonial power. This didn't take place during the sixties, it happened three years ago, while France strongly critisized the American engagement in Iraq.

Pierre was there. All Western embassies were immediately evacuated , and Pierre was brought out in the last group together with the Norwegian ambassador.

No Norwegian media reported this.

Who creates our reality?

What you do, and what you don't do, makes a difference.

My attitudes, my actions, your attitudes, your actions, our experiences, our opinions, our understanding, our possibilities, our power...

Olaug Haugen
(Executive officer, Tingvoll municipality)

Arr/Dep (catalogue): Some Words About the Works and the Artists


Anne Berntsen
(Norway, 1967)
The camera's eye shoots a steel bullet through the room where the individual is the investigated object. Home is here the platform where individuality is become deformed, in the attempt to find an existential stability. We watch through the key-hole, turned into voyeurs, stuck inside the chaos of everyday life, submitted myriads of inputs to which we do not lend more attention because they are too familiar to be notice, too common. And like our glances, we too are fleeting, open to all seductions from a world that doesn't waste sweetness really, knowing that this is all we are, and that we are it in a ridiculously short time-span.

Britt Sorte
(Norway, 1957)
An investigation into the rural environment : The women who set local life into motion. Britt has portrayed the women who with their engagement influence the local environment. All of them, each bringing her own experiences, origin and social position - from the kindergarten assistant and the lady at the checkout counter, to the politician and the administrator - they trace the outlines of a rural society in constant development: The limited geographic space where different localities, like those these persons represent, are met. Britt's portraits bring us on a journey between different realities, expanding our experience of the world we inhabit.

Cristina David
(Bucharest, 1979) comes from a non-central country, in the Western European sense. Her cultural references are nevertheless shared by an increasing number of people, and these are references defining our world as a global society. Tingvoll Kunsthall presented three videos where conceptions in connections with mass media engages with experienced reality, unveiling a gap between reality and our conception of it. She discloses in a simple, direct and poetic manner the states of our existence.

Gunn N. Morstl
(Norway, 1963) has documented with a video work her friendship with Karl Wrs, a man living a frugal life at his overgrown farm, entertaining his guests with old stories and old hymns sung with empathy - knowing that his life soon will turn into dust. The project has taken some years, and testifies a world bygone and lost. But the video not only testifies a local world attached to farming, with a taste of fairy-tale because it belongs to a lost era: The story about Karl and his special way of life, suggests a perspective in a time without a sense of past as well the present age, where we are transformed in even better units of consumption.

Heidi Rdstl
(Norway, 1973)
Heidi has sewn women's dresses using camouflage material, and the patterns which originally were produced for hunting and sporting return in the everyday clothing in an unexpected way. The camouflage thought in metaphorical sense and adopted to the human society suddenly can acquire an other value, from an ideological, political or economical camouflage, to the individual need or desire to disappear into the background, vanish. Or perhaps it is the imprint of a social imaginary which in the landscape finds a shelter from a present too complicated.

Ingvild Fagerli
(Norway, 1968)
Her video work Devotion examines one among many small events occurring inside the frame of the private sphere.

Sada & Cristina at KMR, Jan 19th 2008

Liv Dysthe Snderland
(Norway, 1967)
In the back seat is a video story where imagination is the bridge linking the everyday life world with a vaster one. The daily drive out and home again becomes a journey in time and geography: At the end of the tunnel waits the Promised Land. Imagination is the vehicle taking us far away, dampening the yearning and the gap between wishful thinking and reality.


Magnar Fjrtoft
(Norway, 1957)
Because rain is pouring and winds from the ocean are raging in the western parts of Norway, the walls facing southwest are seldom equipped with windows. When Magnar points at this aspect through a series of pictures depicting closed-off walls and well-kept gardens, our attention is drawn towards our environmental surroundings. The walls' astonishing incommunicability lead us spontaneously to suspect that the photos truly comment the people?s attitude towards the world. This impression deepens when we understand that these pictures show areas threatened by depopulation: Perhaps behind those walls the empty one is alone, because the daily life disappearing from the outskirts is substituted by an unstable presence - the one which a holiday place can offer.

mariannetondoMarianne Skjong (Norway, 1958)
Location exercise
I home (norw: m1 heim- from norr heimr): the world.
II a. An environment offering security and happiness.
b. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.

The global displacement of populations from rural to urban areas - from agriculture to industry - shapes new geographies, and people in motion forms hybrid territories and localities mingling with the old, cultural homogenous boarders. What is home in a world of global connections where every centre or home is someone else's periphery or Diaspora?
Returning home involves movement to and from places: Towards one place belonging to recollection, from another which is the present (but which soon will return to memory). You find yourself searching in the dust of an out-dated vocabulary. "Home" becomes a misunderstanding from muddled experience, events, meetings, places where we find ourselves in constant dislocation : A non-place. Maybe that's where we all belong.


Sada Tangara
(Mali/Senegal, 1981) came to Norway as a political refugee with a handful of photographies from his past in his luggage. These memories constitute his dearest vocabulary. In his hands the camera becomes an instrument to document misery and social degradation. When this photographic documentation was presented in the press, he was persecuted in his homeland.The pictures of neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Dakar bear witness of a global policy based on economic and cultural imbalance. The pictures' disenchant has nothing to do with an aesthetic approach on reality. This is not the work of the travelling photographer with a taste for the picturesque: the cabins of the urban and human outskirts, erected behind grand houses, and the children sleeping on the pavements of the African metropolis, isn't a distant phenomenon in time and place, but a harsh reality experienced by the photographer. It is the tale of the world we move through, a time where different social realities live in symbiosis - simultaneously, but without

Kurt Schwitters
(Germany 1887- England 1948)
Schwitters is surely one of the most influential artists of 1900. His work ranges from collage to sound art, from painting to installations, from poetry to typography. From the Artists Center in Molde (KMR) you can see the island of Hjertya: Schwitters lived there for the most part of the 1930s, first as a tourist then in exile from the Nazis, before fleeing further to England in 1940.

The whole world is your palate.
But only if you touch it -- take hold!

Paolo Manfredi
(Italy, 1968) is the project's curator:
The borderline work of culture demands an encounter with "newness" that is not part of the continuum of past and present. It creates a sense of the new as an insurgent act of cultural translation. Such art does not merely recall the past as social cause or aesthetic precedent; it renews the past, refiguring it as contingent "in-between" space, that innovates and interrupts the performance of the present. The 'past-present' becomes part of the necessity, not the nostalgia, of living.
H. K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 1994

Tone Olaf Nielsen (Denmark, 1967), supervisor:
Tone Olaf Nielsen is an independent curator, educator, and co-founding member of the artist-curator collective Goll & Nielsen and the curatorial collective Kuratorisk Aktion. For the past ten years, her practice has critically engaged notions of difference and resistance, and could be seen as a continual attempt to unpack questions of diversity and otherness, intolerance and conviviality, agency and protest in the age of global capitalism, migration, and war. To that aim, she has developed a transnational, interdisciplinary, and site-specific exhibition format, which provides a collective but agonistic space for the articulation and exchange of alternative representations of the world. Merging postcolonial, feminist, queer, activist, pluralist democracy, and sustainable development theories, Nielsen?s methodology stresses the socio-political dimension of curatorial work and its potential to promote positive social change through the transformative process of acquiring new objects of knowledge. Her most recent projects include: Democracy When!? Activist Strategizing in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, 2002), Minority Report: Challenging Intolerance in Contemporary Denmark (different locations in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, 2004), Niagara Falls Artist Host Program (Mercer Union, A Centre for Contemporary Art, Toronto, 2004), Rethinking Nordic Colonialism: A Postcolonial Exhibition Project in Five Acts (Iceland, Greenland, The Faroe Islands, Finnish Spmi & the Scandinavian Centers, 2006), and Those Who Control the Past Command the Future ? Those Who Command the Future Conquer the Past (Overgaden, Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, 2007). Nielsen holds a Cand.Phil. in Art History from the University of Copenhagen (1994) and a MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from UCLA (2002). She has held various fixed-term institutional positions, most recently as curator at NICFA, Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art and as lecturer in art theory and criticism at the newly established Troms Academy of Fine Art in Norway.

Arr/Dep (catalogue): Intro italiano

Global Experiences in a Local Context

But the same thing happens in the mass society and during mass hysteria, where everybody behaves as being members of a enormous, unanimous family, and hysteria emerges as one aspect is exaggerated in gigantic proportions. In both cases we deal with radical phenomena of privatization, i.e. conditions where none can see or hear, let alone be seen or heard any longer. Everyone is left withdrawn into their own subjectivity, isolated, and this subjectivity does not become less subjective and the experiences one makes here not less singular by being endlessly multiplied. A common world disappears when it's observed from only one point of view; It can only exist in a multitude of perspectives.

Hannah Arendt

Understanding Nowhere:
per sopravvivergli

Gi dallo Spleen di Charles Baudelaire e ancora prima con la costruzione delle grandi industrie tessili inglesi (di cui si rinvengono le ceneri nel permafrost dell'Antartide) la modernit si delineata come un contesto confuso e privatizzante (nel senso che al termine d Hannah Arendt) in cui l'individuo estraneo a se stesso, agli altri e al proprio ambiente. L'abbondanza di eventi negli ultimi due decenni- dalla migrazione di intere popolazioni da una parte all'altra del mondo, alle crisi internazionali e locali e il susseguirsi di conflitti bellici, hanno rafforzato maggiormente questa sensazione. Non certo una consolazione vedere inoltre come alle tragedie umane faccia da sfondo la rovina dell'ecosistema, di cui la maggior parte sono partecipi.
Il trionfo di una economia del modo di vivere resa commestibile e digeribile da una cultura egemonica che di questi problemi raramente si f carico, da una parte ha generato un senso di impotenza, dall'altra una necessit di opporsi decisamente a questo stato di cose.
Non raramente le due parti possono alternarsi, e non vi via di scampo: siamo noi stessi prodotti di una civilizzazione che sembra consolidarsi come un sempre pi perfetto non-luogo- un insieme di unit parcellizzate, parte di un intero di cui non si individuano n i fini n i confini.
Arrivals/Departures (A/D) si inserisce in questa disputa con la certezza di essere un tentativo di riflessione (ma di essere almeno questo). Ci possiamo consolare pensando che negli ultimi trentacinquemila anni l'arte in fondo non ha fatto altro che raccontare gli uomini a se stessi. Questa concezione dell'arte come attivit di caratterere mondano (cio di attivit interessata al mondo e non all'espressione di una tecnica o di un s e quindi di un mercato) sta alla base di A/D e dello spazio progettuale Tingvoll kunsthall, The Art Space in the Middle of Nowhere- la struttura che, in mancanza di strutture, ha reso possibile questo progetto di avanguardia.

Paolo Manfredi - curatore

Arr/Dep (catalogue): "Imagining Tingvoll"


Inbetween specific non-sites and non-specific places
For a few months, during 2007, an old post office on Nordmre hosted Tingvoll kunsthall. This small town on the north eastern coast of Norway temporarily became the surroundings of what actually felt like one of the most important art events in Norway in 2007. At least to some of those very few people who heard about it. I never went to Tingvoll kunsthall and now that it's closed I'll never be able to. I wanted to go, but Tingvoll is a difficult place to get to. You have to fly to Kristiansund airport, to which the only available flights are by SAS. Given this monopoly situation tickets are always expensive. If you're in Oslo or Bergen it's easier and cheaper to go to London or Berlin. So I never went. During the period Tingvoll kunsthall existed I went to New York, Berlin, Seoul, Kassel, Mnster, Lyon, Istanbul, Stockholm, Miami, but I never made it to Tingvoll.

Arrivals/ departures
is an exhibition that seems to locate itself in between two of the most excessively used terms in recent art theory: the site-specific and non-place. The site-specific artwork grew out of a desire to break free of the conventional gallery space and the limitations of its imagined objectivity; the idea that anything placed here, within this pure space, was related to something on the outside only by the relative power of the imagination of (first) its creator and (later) its spectator. This idea made way for lots of interesting representational art, and even more interesting non-representational art, but it became a problem when artists started wanting to do something a little more context-driven, something that could exist for a certain period of time in a certain geographical space. The idea was that the artist would be able to highlight how any particular artwork always exists within one particular framework of potential meaning, and the site-specific always draws attention to this framework.

Thus the work will have one particular set of limitations and possibilities that is intimately connected to the when and where of its presentation. Artists began to create works that explicitly referred to this when and where. Today this is so commonplace that you also see it in commercial settings where the primary goal is to sell art. Works that attempt to criticise the situation in which they are presented, such as works that intentionally draw attention to the fact that the works are being shown in a commercial gallery or at an art fair, are examples of what is usually referred to as institutional critique. Art that attempts to reveal certain aspects of the artworld, such as power structures that are inherent in the relationships between artist, gallery, museum, collector and spectator is one kind of site-specific work, where the specific site is the artworld.

Tingvoll kunsthall, and Arrivals/ departures, on the other hand, are different kinds of site-specific work. They are also motivated by the desire to inject a specific meaning into a particular situation, but their way of doing so is only partially based on a critical desire. Here we find a critique only insofar as the exhibitions present an alternative to what already exists in this situation. It is not the situation that is important, but how this new addition can open up for something different. New ways of reflection, new ways of understanding. In the case of Tingvoll kunsthall it is perhaps as simple as the distinction between absence and presence. Before the kunsthall there was little to none contemporary art practice in Tingvoll. During the existence of the space, however, there has been a kind of activity that usually is only found in bigger cities. Of course there is always "art" in these areas, but it is always art of a variety that doesn't really relate to the contemporary art discourse as it is practiced elsewhere. The meaning of the project thereby comes from where it is carried out more than from exactly what it is doing there.

This is what has been important about the space; the existence in this place of a social practice of the kind that we know as contemporary art, the presence of forms of discourse that would otherwise have remained absent from this particular place. Whatever art has been shown there has, at least to some extent, been incidental to this, and the project as a whole seems much more important than the sum of its parts.

The artspace in the middle of nowhere
Because Tingvoll truly is a kind of non-place. There are many such places, of course, and they are non-places only in the sense that they are places that don't really exist because no one goes there. Within the art-world, Tingvoll, is such a place. It could even be argued that Norway as a whole is such a place. But the non-place is usually talked about in connection with spaces such as airports, waiting areas, different kinds of semi-public spaces in which we sometimes spend time that is frustratingly non-productive and pointless, so it actually really means something very different. As such, I?m sure, Tingvoll is in many ways the complete opposite. Small places, places "off the beaten path" (as travel guides love to call them) are usually places that have exactly the opposite qualities of non-places; they are not devoid of special character at all. They do in fact have so much character that anything that happens there can't help but be coloured by the qualities of the surroundings. This is what makes it so easy to label anything that happens in such a place as "site-specific", like I did just a few paragraphs ago. Because we are so used to things happening within the relatively well-behaved spaces of galleries, or big cities, anything that takes place elsewhere becomes a novelty, "site-specific".

But this is not what is important about either Tingvoll kunsthall or Arrivals/ departures. There has been, and continues to be a great deal of discourse into the question of "periphery" in the parts of the artworld where there is interest in theory. Periphery can most easily be understood as anything that is not close to a centre, or not part of the mainstream. The importance that is now placed on what we might call "periphery awareness" can perhaps be traced to feminist theory and later, more commonly, via Edward Said's work on Orientalism, what became known as post-colonial theory. Inherent in all this theoretical work is the idea that the consensus-based culture brought forth by the European Enlightenment, over the years consistently contributed to the exclusion of minor voices from the public conversation. The first to react to this were the workers in France, then women followed, then the non-Western world. Feminst theory, post-colonial theory and queer theory are all based on the philosophically similar idea of creating the understanding of variety where the commonly held theories had previously only found many examples of the same. It is a call for the appreciation of complexity where one had attempted to claim simplicity. This is important because it has often been misapplied when used in attempts at heightened periphery-awareness. Perhaps particularly in Norway.

"Look to Lillehammer"
Norwegians are a funny people. The closest thing we have to a national opus (our Hamlet, perhaps, and please note that the content of this parenthesis is a clever kind of telling by showing) is a story that was intended to parody our national identity, 'the uncreated conscience of our race' if you will. Norwegians love nothing more than attention from the outside world. Whenever something important happens abroad, the Norwegian angle is sought, at all costs. Did you, for example, know that the Titanic carried a large container of Norwegian toys, on its way to poor American children? "Ship sinks, Norwegian goodwill thwarted". This is counterproductive. The periphery doesn't need attention from the centre. The periphery needs the balls so say, simply, this is our centre. That is what Tingvoll kunsthall did. It's not really important if anyone from Oslo or Bergen every flew in to see the space, or if they will fly in to see this exhibition in Molde. It's not important that I'm sitting in Berlin writing about it. This is where people too often get the importance of post-colonial theory etc wrong. People too often get caught up in the idea that getting attention ("being seen") is important enough to be a goal in itself, when clearly what is really at stake is always simply people?s freedom to not get screwed out of the possibility of doing whatever it is they want to do. This is what's wrong with all the little backwater-places that want "biennials" so that they can become, for a short period of time, the "centre of attention". This is what made Tingvoll kunsthall different. It wasn't about getting people from other parts of Norway to come to Tingvoll, it was about creating a self-sufficient local practice. And then paradoxically, what always happens if a project like that is successful, people start showing up. If you build it, they will come. But attention from the outside world is never the goal. What's important when it comes to the question of "global" and "local" is that local activity does not have to be globally recognised to have value. Tingvoll kunsthall was intended to function like this. First and foremost as a place where people who are normally far removed from the contemporary art world could get a taste of another kind of life. The project attempted to create a social context in which particular kinds of behaviour could take place. The question was primarily what it would entail to enter into this kind of life practice, and the space was simply an experiment into making it happen. This is what I think Tingvoll kunsthall, ever so briefly, offered Nordmre. May a thousand flowers bloom.

Erlend Hammer (art historian and critic)

Arr/Dep (catalogue): A Space of Freedom

tingkunsthall copy

Global Experiences in a Local Context

The project Tingvoll kunsthall (Tingvoll Art Hall) lasted eight months and opened the possibility to exhibit interdisciplinary contemporary art in Northwest Norway. Due to the geographic location the topics that the exhibitions faced were not determined by chance but related to the outskirts as cultural phenomena and mental construction.The basic idea for the project arose from the experience of periphery as a geopolitical and cultural zone that very often seems to be like the rear of the world- where nothing happens and life fades out slowly, disintegrated. But nevertheless the outskirts are part of a whole that is in continuous change, where new human geographies demand a rethinking of social production of space and culture. Tingvoll kunsthall had two aims: The one was to prepare a larger exhibition (Arrivals/Departures) concerning a complex subject difficult to grasp; the other was to problematize a context and little enough move something into change. Because it was interesting to know how people think about and react to their own specific environment within a modern globalized society, the invited artists were mainly local artists. But to balance a point of view in danger to be too local and circumscribed, in addition to those local, two international artists were invited to expand the field of vision with their contributions. During its time the kunsthall functioned like a gallery but it was actually something really different: nothing to buy or sell, but on the contrary nine spring-board-exhibitions and talks that pointed out several aspects inherent in our local society.The Art Space in the Middle of Nowhere has been a space of freedom and in this space artists and visitors met each other in a common need to make sense of their surroundings.
Paolo Manfredi
plantegning kat

Arr/Dep: Catalogue's Intro


Global Experiences in a Local Context

But the same thing happens in the mass society and during mass hysteria, where everybody behaves as being members of an enormous, unanimous family, and hysteria emerges as one aspect is exaggerated in gigantic proportions. In both cases we deal with radical phenomena of privatization, i.e. conditions where none can see or hear, let alone be seen or heard any longer. Everyone is left withdrawn into their own subjectivity, isolated, and this subjectivity does not become less subjective and the experiences one makes here not less singular by being endlessly multiplied. A common world disappears when it's observed from only one point of view; It can only exist in a multitude of perspectives. Hannah Arendt, Vita activa

Understanding Nowhere, and Surviving
Already with Charles Baudelaire's Spleen and even earlier with the construction of the big English textile factories (whose ashes are still to be found in the Antarctic permafrost), modernity took on a confused and privatising (in the sense that Hannah Arendt gives to the term) hue in which the individual is removed from himself, from others and from his surroundings. The abundance of events in the last two decades- from the migration of entire populations from one part of the world to another, to international and local crises and a whole series of wars - have made this feeling even stronger. And what is more, it is not exactly reassuring to see an ecosystem going to rack and ruin, helped along by the great majority, providing the backdrop to these human tragedies.The triumph of an economy with a way of living made swallowable thanks to a hegemonic culture which rarely takes these problems into account, on one hand has generated a sense of impotence, and on the other a need to make a firm stance against this state of affairs. It is not rare for the two sides to alternate, and there is no way out: we ourselves are the products of a civilisation that seems to be taking the shape of an increasingly perfect non-place- a group of separate units, parts of a whole of whom we can make out neither the aims nor the limits.Arrivals/Departures (A/D) takes its place in this debate in the certainty that it is at least an attempt to stir up a degree of reflection. But to what extent the public will be given access to this voice we do not know. We can console ourselves by thinking that in the last thirty-five thousand years, in the end art has done nothing but narrate mankind to themselves. This conception of art as a wordly activity (that is, an activity interested in the world and not in the expression of a technique or a self and therefore a market) is what provides the basis for A/D and the Tingvoll Kunsthall, The Art Space in the Middle of Nowhere, the facility that, in the absence of others of its ilk, has made this avant-garde project possible.
Paolo Manfredi


An example of image-cannibalism (The Heroes, the Healing): pictures picked from the web

Arrivals/Departures: Catalogue

plakatfalset copy



Arr/Dep (catalogue): Exhibition's Elapse

arrdep entranceweb

Global Experiences in a Local Context

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

Arrivals/Departures (A/D) is an orchestral work. Each artist with her or his distinct voice contributes in creating tones, with the premises of Kunstnersenteret as a historical resonance room. The gallery is not only a container of 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 present 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 into the exhibition room. A/D circles between two extremes, represented by Gunn N. Morstl'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. 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 Hjertya 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 mankind (Paolo Manfredi). In the Back Seat (video 6'14'') by Liv Dysthe Snderland, 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).



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 Rdstl, 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 end. 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 Friend, a fictitious conversation with characters from the movie world, where the sites are hard to recognize, implying wherever.




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 Fjrtoft'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, a braiding by Marianne Skjong, hangs as an additional comment to the photos. The window-frames pointing towards Hjertya, 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 an 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 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 Fjrtoft) attached to it; Further along the wall in front of you there are three framed pictures of children without beds to sleep in (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 Fjrtofta by Magnar Fjrtoft, 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''- dialect from Romsdal 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



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. However we know that in more or less the last hundred years people has marched in the opposite direction.
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 Aug, Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, Editions du Seuil 1992
The colour orange stands out from its surroundings and demands attention. The colour is closely linked to the operative work and 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 Mre & 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?
But there are only two ideas or forms of them ? One the idea of a bed, the other of a table.
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