For this year’s Venice Art Biennale, Norway is solely responsible for the Nordic Pavilion for the first time in its history. For this occasion, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) has commissioned artist Camille Norment to develop the project. Camille Norment conceived a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation entitled Rapture. In this video, we have a look at the installation and talk with Camille Norment and the exhibition curator and Director of OCA, Katya García-Antón. The video above is an excerpt, the full-length video is available below.
Camille Norment: Rapture. Nordic Pavilion at at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Interviews with Camille Norment and Katya García-Anton (Exhibition Curator and Director, OCA), May 7, 2015. Interview: Mirjam Baitsch.
PS: Coming soon: Coverage of the performance by Camille Norment and English musician and author David Toop at the Nordic Pavilion.
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Complete video (19:57 min.):
Exhibition text (excerpt):
Norment’s ‘Rapture’ is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist has composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water. Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill through over-exciting its listeners.
In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music raises today by creating a multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of harmony and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice. She is composing a new chorus of voices that correspond to the notes of the glass armonica, and this chorus will surround visitors to ‘Rapture’. She will also perform a new composition on the glass armonica during the opening days of the Venice Biennale. Additionally, throughout the run of the Biennale, she will invite artists and musicians to participate in a series of performances that echo elements in the installation.
‘Rapture’ will explore the relationship between the human body and sound, through visual, sonic, sculptural and architectural stimuli. Today the sonic realm can be both a space of misuse, as we have seen in the militaristic use of sound to abuse the body, and of affirmation, as in the performative utterance of free speech to affirm the right of the body’s very existence. The body can be stimulated and moved by sound, and in Norment’s work, the Nordic Pavilion itself becomes a body in rapture and rupture, harmony and dissonance.
Camille Norment comments: ‘Sound, by its nature, permeates borders – even invisible ones. Throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centraliser of control. Recognised as capable of inducing states akin to sex and drugs, music is still seen by many in the world as an experience that should be controlled – especially in relation to the female body – and yet it is also increasingly used as a tool for control, especially under the justifications of war.’
Katya Garcia-Anton, Director of OCA, Norway and Curator of the Nordic Pavilion comments: ‘We have commissioned Camille Norment to represent Norway at the Nordic Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2015 because she is one of the most innovative, cross-disciplinary artists working in Norway today. Her work is both poetic and physical, and considers sound as an evocative artistic medium. Norment is an American-born artist, who has chosen for over a decade to live and work in Oslo, which reflects the stimulating environment for experimental contemporary art and culture in the Norwegian capital and around the country. We wish to celebrate this on the occasion of Norway’s first ever Nordic Pavilion.’
About Camille Norment
Camille Norment (b. 1970, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA lives and works in Oslo, Norway) works as an artist, musician and composer. Norment’s practice includes performance, installation, drawing, writing and sound, and draws from the artist’s training in music, dance, the visual arts and literature. Norment is concerned with investigating the relationships between sound, music and the visual arts and questioning the meanings of harmony and dissonance. Her art explores the socio-political encoding of sound historically and in the present, reflecting upon the power of dissonance to carve out a space for dissent and creative thinking.
Currently, Norment is part of the exhibition ‘Poor Art – Rich Legacy. Arte Povera and Parallel Practices 1968–2015’, opening at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo on 13 March 2015. She has exhibited and performed extensively, including at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), New York (2013); The Kitchen, New York (2013), Transformer Station (The Cleveland Museum of Art), Cleveland, OH, USA (2013), The Museum of Contemporary Art (The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design), Oslo (2012, the museum commissioned a new performance to accompany the exhibition tour in Norway); The Thessaloniki Biennale, Thessaloniki, Greece (2007); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland (2009); UKS, Oslo (2004); Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden (2004); the Charlottenborg Fonden, Copenhagen, Denmark (2003); Radioartemobile, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003); The Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2001); and The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York (2001). Among several public artwork commissions, a permanent outdoor sound installation was commissioned by the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK), Høvikodden (outside Oslo), Norway, in 2011.
In addition to her work as an artist, Norment performs as a soloist, with other musicians in selected projects, and with her ensemble, the Camille Norment Trio, consisting of Vegar Vårdal (Norwegian hardanger fiddle), Håvard Skaset (electric guitar), and Camille Norment (glass armonica).
About the Nordic Pavilion
In 1958 Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn won the competition to design the Nordic Pavilion for the Venice Biennial. The building was completed in 1962 and has since been a space for collaboration between three nations—Norway, Sweden and Finland. Built on a plot between the pavilions of the United States and Denmark, it is centrally situated on one of the main arteries of the Giardini. Fehn was later awarded the prestigious Prizker Prize for architecture in 1997. In 2015 Norway will be in sole charge of the pavilion for the first time in its history.
About Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA)
OCA is a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001 with the aim of developing cultural collaborations between Norway and the international arts scene. The foundation aims to become one of the main organs in the international contemporary arts debate through initiatives such as exhibitions, seminars and publications, as well as by providing support to Norwegian artists for their activities in the international art arena and inviting international curators and artists to Norway. OCA has been responsible for Norway’s contribution to the visual arts section of the Venice Biennale since 2001.