Curated by Lina Dzuverovic (Electra)
25 April - 27 June 2009
27 Senses takes as the point of departure the life and work of seminal artist Kurt Schwitters, who spent many years in the area of Møre and Romsdal in Norway during his exile from Germany in the 1930s. Much of his time was spent on the island of Hjertøya near Molde where he lived and worked in a summer hut, now named Schwitters Hütte. 27 Senses is the first contemporary art exhibition to solely engage with the time Schwitters spent in Norway. The project delves into this particular moment in the local history as the selected artists investigate the geopolitical conditions Schwitters had to navigate during these years. In particular, the focus is on the idea of stopping and starting, the notion that Schwitters was forced to rebuild his life (and the Merzbau) several times due to the political situation that led to his exile from Germany to Norway and subsequently to the UK.
Schwitters' eclectic practice spanned across painting, immersive installation, performance, sound poetry, typography, collage and sculpture and has had a crucial, but often overlooked, influence on contemporary artistic and performative practices. 27 Senses takes the form of an exhibition and performance programme, investigating how certain ideas central to Schwitters' oeuvre are manifesting themselves today across the visual arts, performance and sound based practices.
The first stage of 27 Senses took place in the summer of 2007 in the form of a visit to the region by the selected artists. This research trip served as an initial on-site exploration of the presence of Schwitters in the area, and as a basis for the creation of site- specific works. With this context-sensitive orientation in mind, the exhibition will begin with a day of performances around the Schwitters' Hütte located on the island of Hjertøya, not usually open to the public. The hut is covered in Schwitters' collages, small handwritten notes on the walls and the beginning of a Merzbau-like structure along one of the walls. In this way those attending the performance day will not only get a sense of the location but will uniquely be able to access this normally inaccessible breathtaking piece of art history.
The title, 27 Senses comes from the opening line of Schwitters' Merz love poem An Anna Blume. In it Schwitters alludes to the five senses not being enough to describe the object of his desire. This notion of synesthetic experience carries through all of Schwitters' works and is manifested in his wish for Merz 'to create connections, preferably between everything in this world'. In his quest for an experience not unlike a Wagnerian Gesamtkunswerk, Schwitters longed for all of his works to be perceived as one lifelike experience.
It is precisely such an experience that 27 Senses seeks to create through combining the exploration of the local area with the works in the museum. This sense of unity of art and life is central to the show and therefore we aim for the '27 Senses experience' to begin upon one's arrival to the performance day at Hjertøya, rather than upon one's entrance into the museum.
Kenneth Goldsmith is an American poet and the founding editor of UbuWeb, a web-based educational resource for avant-garde material. He teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and hosts a weekly radio show at WFMU. Goldsmith has had many books of poetry published including his American trilogy, The Weather (2005), Traffic, (2007) and Sports, (2008), and is Senior Editor of PENNsound.
Carl Michael von Hausswolff has worked with Electra previously on The Trans-Communication Lab (2006). He is a composer, visual artist and curator based in Stockholm, Sweden. His main tools are recording devices (camera, tape deck, radar, sonar) used in an ongoing investigation of electricity, frequency, architectural space and paranormal electronic interference. He is an expert in the work of Friedrich Jurgenson, electronic voice phenomena (EVP) a researcher who claimed to have detected voices of the dead hidden in radio static. Major exhibitions include Portikus, Frankfurt (2004), the Venice Biennale (2001, 2003 and 2005), Sound Art - Sound As Media Tokyo ICC (2000), documenta X (1997) and the Johannesburg Biennial (1997). Hausswolff received a Prix Ars Electronica award for Digital Musics in 2002. He is the curator and producer of freq_out.
Swedish artist Karl Holmqvist mostly works with text material, publications and readings in which he deals with the ethics and aesthetics of issues such as politics and religion. The resulting gallery based installations of his work are usually minimal and functional; boxes of published texts, computers and listening stations. He also participates in concert-style presentations and has released CDs and 7" vinyls of his spoken work, including Make It Happen, a compilation of young Swedish artists by the record label of the same name. He has had solo and group exhibitions internationally, including GÅVÄNTASTANNA’ (GOWAITSTOP), Sweden (2006); Performa, Switzerland (2005); Hamburger Bahnhof (2004), KW (2001), both Berlin; Galleri Index (2003) and Kulturhuset (2002), both Stockholm; and Utopia Station at the Venice Biennale (2003).
Jutta Koether worked with Electra in 2005 on Her Noise, collaborating with Kim Gordon on the newly commissioned piece Reverse Karaoke. Jutta Koether is a German born painter, performance artist, musician, writer and theoretician based in New York. She has had solo exhibitions across Europe and the US including Thomas Erben Gallery, New York; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and Akademie Der Bildenden Künste in Vienna as well as partaking in numerous group shows internationally. She regularly contributes to publications such as Artforum and Afterall and is the former editor of German culture and music publication Spex.
Born in Norway, Eline McGeorge graduated from Goldsmiths College, London in 2000. Her work is drawing-based, using collages, montages, sculptures and animated drawing. Travelling Doubles 2 was her first solo show in Denmark in 2008; previous solo shows include Fotogalleriet, Norway (2007); Hollybush Gardens, London (2007 and 2005) and Possibilities of Another Place, Display Gallery, Prague (2004). Group exhibitions include Berliner Kunstsalon, (2004 and 2005); B Hotel at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2001/2); Break in Theatre 2 (touring major spaces in Japan) and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, 2001.
Kunstmuseet KUBE is located in Ålesund, a town on the fringe of the Norwegian "Geiranger" fjord. SAS flies directly to Ålesund Airport from numerous destinations and from there it is a short bus/ taxi ride into the town centre. The museum itself is situated on the waterfront in the town's central harbour area, on Apotekargatan 16 which can be found here.
On the very same road is the Clarion Collection Hotel Bryggen , a comfortable, sauna-equipped hotel with excellent service. Whilst being in the area, it is very worth visiting the island of Hjertøya where Schwitters spent his summers and where the remarkable Schwitters' Hütte is located. The island can be accessed by boat from Molde with frequent departures from mid-town during the summer.
Please do not hesitate to contact Electra, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any enquiries about the exhibition or surrounding practical details.
Image: Simon Wågsholm