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Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Camille Norment
9 May–22 November 2015

The Nordic Pavilion
Giardini di Castello
Commissioner: Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA)
Curator: Katya García-Antón, Director, OCA, in collaboration with Antonio Cataldo, Senior Programmer, OCA

Rapture is Norway’s contribution to the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2015. Developed by artist Camille Norment, the project encompasses a site-specific sculptural and sonic intervention, which unfolds into a series of performances in the pavilion echoing elements in the installation, and a three-part publication exploring the broader contextual framework of her investigations.

About the installation in the Nordic Pavilion
Inside the Nordic Pavilion, Rapture explores the visceral relationship between the human body and sound, through the visual, the sonic, and the architectural body of the pavilion, in a sensory experience that is both physical and mental. For the installation the American-born, Oslo-based artist Camille Norment works with the glass armonica—a legendary 18th-century instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin that creates ethereal music from glass and water—and a chorus of female voices. Weaving these elements together with the resonances of the pavilion itself, Norment develops a new composition based on the unresolved notes of the much censored “devils’s” tritone that correspond to the notes of the glass armonica and creates an immersive, multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice.

About the performance by the Camille Norment Trio
The Camille Norment Trio consist of the glass armonica, played by Norment; the Hardanger fiddle, played by Vegar Vårdal; and the electric guitar, played by Håvard Skaset. Each of these instruments was thought, at various points in history, to invoke a socially and sexually transgressive experience in the body, especially the female body, and subsequently banned. In these performances Norment will perform new compositions with her trio whose instrumentation parallels the artist’s investigations into the relationship between vibration and the body as perceived during the Enlightenment period, and today through social and scientific discussions.

About the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop
Camille Norment and David Toop present an abstracted “performance lecture,” encompassing text, the voice and sound, in relation to vibration, the body and hysteria. Hysteria, long deemed a female disease, extended to “an epidemic of male hysteria” with the effects of shell shock during WWI and continues to be pertinent in post-war syndromes today as well as in other instances of socially and culturally induced forms of collective-hysteria. The performance also draws from American poet Sara Teasdale’s poem “There Will Come Soft Rains,” written after WW1 and reflecting upon the resilience of nature to outlive the catastrophic exploits of humanity.

The performances are co-produced by OCA, nyMusikk and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival.

About the publications
Rapture includes a three-part publication that reflects upon the relationship between sound and the visual arts, across time, as well as how it complicates the hegemony of vision in contemporary theory and art practice. In the first launching for the opening of the Biennale, authors David Toop, María del Pilar Blanco and Rob Stone contribute essays reflecting on how sounds shapes our environment, our bodies and our minds. This first publication also includes a discussion between curators Katya García-Antón and Antonio Cataldo with artist Camille Norment, unfolding her artistic perspective on how sound has the power to act as a mediator of cultural experience.