On November 6th I was lucky enough to be in Bergen for the launch night of Hellebou Vol II. It was great to see Norway again just a couple of months after the Hellebou Residency, this time in the snow!
The launch took place in a building formerly known as Bergen Kampsportsenter (Bergen Martial Arts Centre). It has now become a home for the fine arts - encompassing artist studios and exhibition space. The event was held in an area that previously hosted a boxing ring - a fascinating space for performance. The building still retains many clues to it's previous existence, from the 1920's style ceiling fan to the mirrored walls and wooden barriers that articulated the space for it's original purpose.
The night featured spoken word performance and music. As I entered the party, Dig Deeper were just about to entertain us, and just before I left, the seven piece country orchestra, Empty Bottles & Broken Hearts played us out...although I'm sure the revellry continued way into the night. A recording that Empty Bottles and Broken Hearts made during their stay in the Cabin for the residency can be seen here
This year the book was produced as a sleek black volume, which included two 7" vinyl records inserted into the front and back cover. The recordings included an ethereal piece by Tim Tygg that slightly reminded me of traditional Japanese music, and a 6.22 minute sound piece entitled 'digging a hole OST" by Skrekker, whose mysterious image is on the cover of the book. It seems fitting to choose vinyl as the means of recording the sound pieces when considering Ellen and Johanne's initial drive to start the residency programme. As they say in the introduction,
'Hellebou had lost it's original function and was mainly used for storage space. With a desire to revive and reuse the cabin, we turned it into an artist residence.'
It is, I think, the element of nostalgia which infuses the cabin, that makes the choice to produce the sound in vinyl relevant. During my stay with Dillan Marsh, the vinyl collection left there, which spanned from the late 60's to the early 80's was what kept us company late at night, the warm fuzzy sound of the old record player filling the cabin with the music of previous generations.
Much of the visual work produced for Hellebou, photography, performance documentation, drawing & text, reflects upon the environment of the cabin in the woods. Each book contains a pressed plant, the work of Inger Wold Lund which verifies each publication as one out of an edition of 300.
The work Dillan and I chose for the book were two dyptichs, represented in the book as two double page spreads. We decided that the figure within the photos should only ever be partially revealed. The aim was to indicate physical human presence and action, but not to be specific about identity or character (as in a portrait). We included an image of the tree tops in the sky, as it suggested to us the vastness of the world outside the cabin – what it was to be open to the elements. The images remain experimental, as we had not made a concrete plan of how we wanted them to look, and of course we both had our separate way of seeing things. It was a process of discovering how our individual ways of working could come together. The final stages of editing were a time to make sense of what we had done, and what we had drawn from our time in the cabin.
Hellebou Vol II is currently available through mail order by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or in Norway at Robot, Apollon, Norli Galleriet (Bergen) and in Tiger (Oslo). The price is 120 NOK // 15 € // 12 GBP.
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