Tromsø Kunstforening

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Tromsø Kunstforening is a premiere arena for
contemporary art in the circumpolar north, and the oldest
art institution in Northern Norway.

Muségata 2
Tromsø, Norwegen


The Festival Exhibition 2021:

Artists' Film International: Language

January 15–April 18, 2021

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Miguel Fernandez de Castro, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Amina Dryabee, Bojan Fajfric, Mohamed A. Gawad, Evgeny Granilschchikov, Vika Kirchenbauer, Daisuke Kosugi, Dominika Olszowy, Raqs Media Collective, Lerato Shadi, Anastasia Sosunova, Rhea Storr, Lisa Tan, Yao Qingmei, Yu Guo

Exhibition curated and designed: Vsevolod Kovalevskij
Lead technician: Erik Fallgren
Technical team: James Lee, Ruth Alexandra Aitken, Robert Julian Badenhope Hvistendahl

Tromsø Kunstforening is very proud to be able to present AFI as a comprehensive group show filling the upstairs galleries of our buidling with works by some 17 artists, exploring the theme of language.

Artists' Film International (AFI) is a collaborative project featuring film, video and animation from around the world. Each organisation selects an exciting recent work by an artist from their region which is shared amongst the network. The programme is adapted to every venue and is shown over the course of a year. Established by Whitechapel Gallery in 2008.

WORKS: Participating artists:

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain
Inscriptions (One Here Now), 2018

HD video, 14:54 min
Selected by Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Inscriptions (One Here Now) by Ailbhe Ní Bhriain draws us into the vertiginous depths of a quarry interior. The camera traces the deep-time of geological sequences, the scars left by machinery on the rock surfaces, and the sprayed industrial notations that codify the commodification and disappearance of landscape. In these disparate forms of inscription the film finds a metaphor for the Anthropocene – the current geological era in which human behaviour is the dominant force shaping environment and climate. A composition of filmic and computer-generated images, Ní Bhriain's work creates also encounters with animals that are now threatened with extinction, and that look back at the viewer.

Miguel Fernandez De Castro
A Grammar of Gates / Una Gramática de las puertas, 2019

HD video, 20:31 min
Selected by Ballroom Marfa, Texas

Miguel Fernández de Castro’s video Grammar of Gates / Gramática de las puertas is a dynamic visual and aural collage that traces the overlapping territories, languages, and conflicts that mark the border between Mexico and the U.S. within the sovereign Tohono O’odham Nation. The artist weaves together excerpts from the 1970 movie Geronimo Jones with drone and surveillance-like imagery of the landscape and an affectless recitation of phrases out of A Practical Spanish Grammar for Border Patrol Officers.

Ergin Çavuşoğlu
Desire Lines / Tarot and Chess, 2016

Single channel HD (2048 x 853) video, audio 29’ 3’’
Selected by Istanbul Modern, Istanbul

Courtesy of the artist, Extra City Kunsthal, Platform 0090 and FLACC Produced with the additional support of SAHA Association

Engin Çavuşoğlu frequently creates videos and installations that are situated in urban areas where private and public spaces intersect. These spaces, which the artist defines as "thresholds," serve as a border between individuals and their environment.
Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s work titled “Desire Lines / Tarot and Chess” centers on the universal qualities of human behavior and their relationship to past, present and future. Depicted through the lens of the literary expressions in Italo Calvino’s Castle of Crossed Destinies (Il castello dei destini incrociati, 1973), the video is transformed into a multi-layered narrative with various elements borrowed from literature. “Desire Lines / Tarot and Chess” alludes to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear as well as to Faust, Oedipus and other classics.

Amina Dryabee
Determinism and Free Will, 2019

Video, 2 mins 51 s
Selected by Centre for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan (CCAA), Kabul

Amina Dryabee’s work Determinism and Free Will, 2019 offers a philosophical reflection on our forms of knowledge and destinies. Is life predetermined, or do we have agency to control our futures? As we emerge from COVID lockdown to new horizons of thought, her work makes manifest the cycle of writing and erasure of histories. Within the artists’ context in Afghanistan, this question is particularly poignant for women, as much of CCAA’s work revolves around empowering young people through training in the medium of video and the visual arts.

Bojan Fajfric
The Cause of Death, 2015

HD video, 13 min
Selected by Belgrade Cultural Centre, Belgrade

Bojan Fajfric’s The Cause of Death looks into the Black Wave cinema and the unfinished Cultural Revolution of 1968 as a way to understand our present times. The ‘Black Wave’ was a prolific phase in the Yugoslav cinema in the mid 1960s and early 1970s that introduced the failure of the protagonist as a means of critical examination of the society rejecting the norms and ideals of an optimistic official socialist culture. The artist is appropriating texts and actions from five major Black Wave characters from Yugoslav film history and inserting them into the settings and conditions of his personal life. The work unites a collective and personal experience, while playing with the limits of theirs recognition in different contexts and challenging the belief in language of art as an agency of change in the social reality.

Mohamed A. Gawad
betalpha (Balbalah), 2018

HD video 5:31 min
Selected by Mahera and Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh Foundation, Amman

Bal-balah, بلَبلة (noun)
Befuddlement; Clutter; Discomposure.
A language deconstruction exercise, where sentences of different linguistic origins morph through different mother tongues/ears.
A hypothetical situation of a post-historic moment of loss of language: “At a time before time, a Big Bang in Babel sat the uni-logos into a perpetual process of language breeding. At one point, that expansion expires. What follows is a recoil; where dialect-ic-s coalesce, and separates overlap.”

Bal-balah, noun. 1- Befuddlement; Clutter; Discomposure. 2- A language / óÈáóÈáÉ deconstruction exercise, where sentences of different linguistic origins morph through different mother tongues/ ears. 3- A hypothetical situation of a post-historic moment of loss of language: “At a time before time, a Big Bang in Babel sat the uni-logos into a perpetual process of language breeding. At one point, that expansion expires. What follows is a recoil; where dialect-ic-s coalesce, and separates overlap.”

Evgeny Granilschchikov
Courbet’s Funeral (still), 2014

Single-channel video shot on a mobile phone, 11:33 mins
Selected by Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow

Composed of mobile phone footage from February – April 2014, Courbet’s Funeral is a collage blending video poetry with documentation as the artist explores a personal and political moment in Moscow during emerging protests against the war in Ukraine. Filmed like a video diary, the work captures a mood of anxiety and uncertainty about the future amongst the artist’s group of friends, alongside dreamy semi-documentary recordings of everyday life; conversations in cafes and bars, flipping through art books and carefree nights out dancing.
The screens and interfaces of laptops and mobile phones illuminate the murky interior scenes of the film, while the sun floods the streets and squares of Moscow suggesting hope in the air. Evgeny Granilshchikov based his contemporary collective portrait on a specific historic event, referenced in the title of Gustave Courbet’s painting, A Burial at Ornans (1849) – a pictorial frieze, revolutionary in its prosaic truthfulness as it conveyed the sadness of a community in mourning.

Vika Kirchenbauer

approx. 14 min
Selected by n.b.k., Berlin

YOU ARE BORING! (2015) by Vika Kirchenbauer investigates ‘looking’ and ‘being looked at’ through the perspective of five performers. By subverting the language of marketing, the artist draws attention to commodified bodies and actions.

Daisuke Kosugi
A False Weight, 2019

HD video with sound, 48 mins
Selected by Tromsø Kunstforening, Tromsø

A False Weight by Daisuke Kosugi (b. 1984, Tokyo) is an experimental portrait closely based on the filmmaker’s ailing father (Masanori Kosugi) and partly filmed in his apartment in Tokyo. The film’s observation of daily routines is the product of an intensive behind-the-scenes collaboration between Masanori Kosugi and Toru Iwashita, who plays the protagonist. Toru is a Butoh dancer whose movements are inspired by the freedom found in the body’s limitations.The character’s ongoing struggle for dignity and self-reliance unfolds as the language of everyday routines and gestures becomes the most intimate form of drama.

Dominika Olszowy
Wanda Wanton, 2016
SD video, 9:14 min
Selected by Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw

Wanda Wanton is an aspiring artist from Wieliczka / Poland, working as a teacher of polish language. After work, Wanda devotes herself to a peculiar passion: she just loves to destroy things, and calls her acts of vandalism “acts of art” or simply “sculptures.” Vandalism becomes her life philosophy: destruction creates new order, therefore all creation has to be based on destruction. Wanda Wanton can be seen as an alter ego of Dominika Olszowy. By bringing her to life, the artist expresses her socially unacceptable desires. However, “Wanda Wanton,” first and foremost, casts a spotlight on the relationship between human and the surrounding matter, and asks a question: can vandalism be an act of emancipation, freeing an individual from the oppression of the enforced order?

Raqs Media Collective
Passwords for Time Travel, 2017

HD video, 9 min
Selected by Project 88, Mumbai

Passwords for Time Travel consists of a suite of text and image videos that propose a set of terms that anticipate and rehearse conversations with the near and distant future. Combining the enigma of a spell with the precision of a dictionary entry, these unexpected lexical combinations are presented along with images that elaborate upon the multiple meanings of the texts.

Lerato Shadi
Mobogo Dinku, 2019

HD video, 6 min
Selected by Friends of Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town

In Mobogo Dinku, the artist’s hand makes enigmatic gestures and she sings a folk verse in Setswana, a South African language. But she provides no subtitles or guidance on what the words and gestures mean because she is narrating the un-narratable, the history of her people, marginalized during apartheid South Africa. The history she was taught at school is the history of the coloniser, which she rejects, so what history can she tell?

Anastasia Sosunova
Demikhov Dog, 2017,

7:21 mins
Selected by CAC Vilnius, Vilnius

Demikhov Dog is a video-installation based on the experiments of Russian scientist Vladimir Demikhov. A pioneer in organ transplants the surgeon conducted controversial tests in order to create two-headed dogs. Demikhov, termed a “mad scientist” by some, was nevertheless awarded an order of merit as well as a USSR state prize. Anastasia Sosunova uses the figure of Demikhov in order to reflect on cultural differences between countries of close proximity. The installation was originally presented at the Ignalina Culture and Sports Center close to the Lithuanian/Belarusian border interacting with the site and a mural from Soviet times which depicts local animals in an exotic African-savanna graphic style.

Rhea Storr
Junkanoo Talk, 2017
HD video and converted Super 16mm, 12 min
Selected by Whitechapel Gallery, London

The imagery in Junkanoo Talk unfolds like a language without words. Junkanoo is a carnival of the Bahamas; vivid shots of festival fringed paper costumes are accompanied by sighs and clicks, sounds made on the body to the beats of Bahamian Rake ‘n’ Scrape. The work is part of British-Bahamian artist Rhea Storr’s investigations in how to represent cultures on film.

Lisa Tan
My Pictures of You, 2017–2019
HD video, 23 min
Selected by Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

In the film My Pictures of You, American-Swedish artist Lisa Tan looks at photographs taken on Mars by NASA expeditions. These pictures are interwoven with filmed sequences from Earth, and Tan muses over the bewildering similarity of the topography on the two different celestial bodies. At the same time, she talks with a researcher who is responsible for the operations of measuring water, soil, and atmosphere on the Mars expeditions, and she lays out for him some poetic speculations about the two planets. Tan thinks of Mars as Earth’s death mask, imagining that we can see our own future in the desolate, dusty red planet.

Yao Qingmei
Sanzu Ding and its Patterns: Hypotheses on the Origin of the Hammer – Sickle Sign, 2013 –

HD Video, 20 min
Selected by Para Site, Hong Kong

In Yao Qingmei's Sanzu Ding and its Patterns: Hypotheses on the Origin of the Hammer – Sickle Sign, Professor Yao, a specialist in ancient Chinese ideograms, presents six hypotheses on the origin and development of a mysterious symbol based on her extensive research in the fields Archeology, semiology and psychoanalysis. The symbol was used on ancient ceramic vessels (“Sanzu Ding”) and has a surprising resemblance to the communist motif of hammer and sickle. The work and the fictional character “Professor Yao” evolved from a series of performances and lectures at universities and art centers in China, France, and Germany.

Yu Guo
Selected by KWM artcentre, Beijing

Yu Gou explores Jiéjiè (Enchantment) (2019), a Buddhist term describing the protective ‘zone’ created through a collective consciousness. Guo analyses this concept within heavily mediated urban environments.


Arbeid på vegg i Mondo Books, Tromsø Kunstforening.

”Partition Wall”

Arbeidet består av tegninger i ulike størrelser satt sammen og montert opp på vegg. Det er tegnet med fargeblyanter på papir med innslag av malte flater.
I arbeidene er det inndelte soner eller områder – markering av en vegg, forsiden på en bok, et ark, tekster, en åpning ut eller inn, natur, speiling i en tv-skjerm, mellomrom. Det er deler som er flat og det er deler som indikerer et perspektiv innover eller utover. En vegg bestående av bilder, dører, mellomrom, tomrom, flekker, skygger, lys, kanter - ulike oppdelte soner.

Konkret er veggen en flate med en funksjon, et skille mellom noe utenfor og noe innenfor, en innside og en utside. En grense mellom to soner. I arbeidet representerer veggen også et skille mellom ulike tilnærminger, fra en overflate og til hvordan man går inn i det man ser. Overgangen mellom forsiden på en bok og innholdet, hvordan man forholder seg til, ser og leser bilder og tekst, eller hvordan man oppfatter illusjon av det tredimensjonale på en flate. Veggen blir et område som er konkret men som også åpner opp i ulike retninger.

Papirene henger ubeskyttet på veggen, som flater, men også som fysiske objekter der en kan veksle mellom å se det som er tegnet på papiret, og se selve papiret, papiret som ikke er helt flatt men bølger seg enkelte steder og påvirkes av varierende fukt i rommet. Papiret er et materiale som er egnet til å samle tanker og ideer. Papiret er også det materiale som er utgangspunktet for de andre arbeidene i Mondo – bøkerne.

Sissel Fredriksen