October 27, 2014 - National Museum of Norway - Sofie Berntsen and Karl Holmqvist
October 27, 2014

Sofie Berntsen and Karl Holmqvist

Karl Holmqvist, eyeseyes (detail), 2008. Courtesy of the artist. Right: Sofie Berntsen, Norvège (detail), 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Rameau’s Nephews: Sofie Berntsen and Karl Holmqvist
7 November 2014–8 March 2015

Opening: 6 November, 18h
Featuring performances by Ei Arakawa and students from the Academy of Fine Art Oslo, Sofie Berntsen, Sofia Jernberg and Karl Holmqvist

National Museum of Norway
Museum of Contemporary Art
Bankplassen 4
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11–17h, Thursday 11–19h, Saturday–Sunday 12–17h


The Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to present the first exhibition in the new series Rameau’s Nephews. In this series younger Norwegian artists exhibit alongside a conversation partner who may be a fellow artist from abroad, an architect, a poet, musician, designer or something else entirely. Each exhibition will have its own unique form. The only constant will be the dialogue to emerge between the Norwegian artist and the conversation partner.

The title of the series is a reference to a manuscript by the French Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot (1713–1784) titled Rameau’s Nephew, or the Second Satire (Le Neveu de Rameau, ou La Satire Seconde), which was published posthumously. This somewhat contradictory and satirical text tells the story of Rameau’s nephew and his fictitious dialogue with a narrator taken to represent philosophy. Diderot casts Rameau’s nephew as an ironic and, at times, inconsistent agitator.

The nephews Sofie Berntsen and Karl Holmqvist
Sofie Berntsen (b.1968) and Karl Holmqvist (b.1964) will be the first artists to present their work in Rameaus Nephew’s. They have never previously collaborated, but a shared interest in how language, text, symmetry and classification systems can be manipulated to give meaning as art, makes for an interesting dialogue.

Sofie Berntsen
The spoken and written word represents both traditional and unorthodox science, popular and high culture. Sofie Berntsen uses textbooks on art and science as the foundation of her new paintings. The carefully selected textbooks have been found in secondhand bookshops. She uses the book covers as a canvas for her oil and pastel paintings, in which small gaps in the painted surface hint at the nature of the book. The brushstrokes, which respectfully spread paint across the book covers, demand that the readers change their approach to leather-bound knowledge. Colours and shapes devour the book’s content and transform it into pure form. Past and present dissolve into one. The subject stands over the object and shows that knowledge per se is in constant flux. In many of Berntsen’s works she investigates the historical association between spiritualism and art, and draws parallels between the justification of alternative scientific approaches and the demands for the autonomy of the art object.

Karl Holmqvist
Karl Holmqvist includes a broad spectrum of mediums in his artistic practice, including performance, text, posters, installation and sculpture. Visually his black and white imagery is reminiscent of the Concrete Poetry of the 1950s and 1960s, in which the typographic arrangement of text was as important for the overall experience as phonetic sound effects and the actual meaning of words. By giving words their own lives within a visual creation, they could be liberated from their circumscribed existence as signifiers. However, Holmqvist also takes inspiration from Beat generation artists such as Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs and the cut-up technique they developed in the late 1950s. Holmqvist has published several books, but insists that he is not a poet. He is, instead, an artist who writes poetry. In addition to the written word, the spoken performance of the text is a central part of his artistic practice.

I am Your Telephone, and I Love You!
I am Your Telephone, and I Love You! represents a sidekick to the exhibition. For the duration of the exhibition anyone can call a toll-free number, 800 400 50, from anywhere within Norway and listen to artist poetry.

The physical component of this project can be experienced in the museum. A classic red telephone booth is equipped with a screen where you can watch video and listen to audio recordings. Twelve artists working with text have contributed answering machine messages: Sofie Berntsen / Nils Bech, Caroline Bergvall, Lars Mørch Finborud, Marthe Ramm Fortun, Iselin Linstad Hauge, Ebba Moi / Anna Carin Hedberg, Karl Holmqvist, Kristian Skylstad, Vibeke Tandberg and Arne Vinnem.

I am Your Telephone, and I Love You! is an homage to the American poet and performance artist John Giorno’s (b. 1936) work Dial-a-Poem from 1969. Giorno’s objective was to bring poetry to a wider audience. People throughout the USA could call a number free of charge and hear poems by John Ashbury, Bobby Seale, Ed Sanders, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, John Cage, Jim Carroll and many others. The original poetry recordings can be heard in the museum cafe.

I Am Your Telephone, and I Love You! has been produced in collaboration with Telenor Kulturarv.

Concurrent public programme
“Life is a killer!” 
John Giorno in conversation with Quinn Latimer
Thursday 20 November, 17h

Performance of Rio Recordings (2014) by Arto Lindsay and Karl Holmqvist
Wednesday 21 January 2015, 18h

Further programme details will be announced on www.nasjonalmuseet.no.

The exhibition is accompanied by two catalogues combined in a special edition box, only available for sale for the duration of the exhibition. The the two lavishly illustrated catalogues contain texts by curator Stina Høgkvist, artist and writer Henrik Plenge Jacobsen and art critic and editor Line Ulekleiv. 

For images and further information please see www.nasjonalmuseet.no or contact Eva Engeset at eva.engeset [​at​] nasjonalmuseet.no.


Sofie Berntsen and Karl Holmqvist at National Museum of Norway
National Museum of Norway
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