January 10, 2020 - Bergen Kunsthall - Simone Fattal: Fix Your Gaze On Saturn’s Rings
January 10, 2020

Bergen Kunsthall

[1] Simone Fattal, Installing My Sculptures, 2014. Collage. Photograph, ink and watercolour. [2] Adelita Husni-Bey, Agency (still), 2015. HD video, 27 minutes.

Simone Fattal
Fix Your Gaze On Saturn’s Rings
January 31–March 22, 2020

Bergen Kunsthall
Rasmus Meyers allé 5
5015 Bergen
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Thursday 11am–8pm

T +47 940 15 050

Facebook / Instagram

The first major exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall in 2020 is a comprehensive presentation of works by the Lebanese-American artist Simone Fattal. The exhibition features a large number of works from the 1970s until today, presented in a characteristic non-chronologic installation in which a myriad of narrative threads and layers appear through the juxtapositions of works in different media and on different scales. Fattal is mostly known for her work in clay, glazed in luminous colours or shades of sand and brown. The many long-legged figures, assorted vessels or architectural ruins relate to her interest in mythology and archaeology, and chart deeply human themes such as the ravages of war and recovery.

A whole world of memories, ideas and references to history, mythology, poetry and contemporary politics is precipitated in Simone Fattal’s works, which have come to life in close interaction with the sites and experiences that have surrounded the artist. Born in Syria and raised in Lebanon, Fattal studied philosophy in Paris and established herself as an artist at the end of the 1970s in Beirut. In 1982, she moved to California, where she started the publishing venture Post-Apollo Press. The exhibition includes a selection of publications by Post-Apollo Press, illustrated both by Fattal herself and by her life partner, the poet and painter Etel Adnan.

At the end of the 1980s Fattal started to work in ceramics and created her own formal language with sketch-like—barely formed, liminal, but highly suggestive—figurative sculptures. The works visibly exhibit the traces of their own making, spontaneously shaped between two hands on a working table. At first glance the objects are reminiscent of ancient artefacts, souvenirs or idiosyncratic collectibles often found in domestic environments, in which very different objects come together to form a personal story. While these are often modest in size, other works shift the potential of ceramics into large objects on a bodily scale.

As with the often unassuming motifs of the sculptures, the mountain landscapes, trees and fruit motifs of Fattal’s paintings and watercolours point beyond themselves: both to a beautiful, personal landscape of memory and to experiences situated in politics, conflict and destruction. Some of the watercolours are inspired by Fattal’s childhood memories of Damascus—one of the oldest cities in the world, once surrounded by an oasis of rich vegetation. This lost paradise is represented by way of luxuriant depictions of fruit, trees and gardens, as symbols of a non-western cultural diversity. In the same way memories and fragments from history seep into Fattal’s collages, where postcards and magazine cuttings are juxtaposed with drawings, photographs of her own works or images of the artist herself. Fattal’s works possess a timelessness—at once archaic and modern—that places them beyond any stylistic epoch or definable period. First and foremost, they exhibit a profound humanism and a reflection on humanity and its place in the world and in history. 

Simone Fattal (b. 1942, Damascus, Syria) lives and works in Paris. 

Adelita Husni-Bey
January 31-March 22, 2020

Libyan-Italian artist Adelita Husni-Bey describes herself both as an artist and a pedagogue. Her work uses noncompetitive learning models, inspired by pioneers such as the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal’s participatory theater and workers’ education initiatives. Often making use of the workshop as a format to engage groups and schools, her work results in a variety of formats: publications, radio broadcasts, archives, exhibitions and films. Her interest is grounded in imagining change in crucial aspects of contemporary society, to analyze the roots of power relations and exclusion. At the same time, her approach reflects on how tools of learning and participation, with their inherent power dynamics, for example in the school system, play an integral function for the state and its economy.

At Bergen Kunsthall Adelita Husni-Bey presents an installation and workshop titled Maktspill. A film, Agency, in the centre of the installation chronicles a 3-day intensive role-play with students from Manara High School in Rome, produced in 2015, in which the students enact some of the assumed roles in a democracy: politicians, journalists, workers, activists and bankers. Through a set of rules, the participants play out and modify the power relationships between the groups, creating coalitions and negotiating their impact and dependencies through the game. Agency asks the crucial and ambivalent question: how is "agency"—the ability to enact change in society—intertwined with power? During the exhibition period, the screening room will be used as a workspace and classroom for a new iteration of the role-play, involving groups of young people in Bergen. Photographic backdrops are used here both as a screen for the film and as elements against which the workshop takes place and leave its trace during the exhibition run.

The difference in context—Italy and Norway—and the time that passed since the first workshop play a significant role in the exhibition. In some ways the project in Rome predicted developments that are characteristic of contemporary neoliberalism. The participants in Agency anticipated the rise of populist movements and the effects of austerity measures in their reflections on how power is shared and taken, but more importantly: how it can be redistributed. The new iteration in Bergen will draw from its own specific context, through introductory sessions with local experts and the use of news headlines from Norwegian politics. How do these power dynamics play out differently in the context of a Nordic welfare state? What has changed in the past five years that have seen drastic developments in the use of media, and the use of media in politics? In the installation, visitors are invited to follow this process, and speculate on their own. What will shift in order to create new scenarios for coming generations? What is the result of the neoliberal restructuring of sociality?

The exhibition is a collaboration of Bergen Kunsthall and Borealis - a festival for experimental music.

Adelita Husni-Bey (b. 1985, Milan, Italy) works and lives in Italy and New York. She represented Italy at the Venice Biennale of Art (2017) with a video rooted in anti-extractivist struggles.

Related events:

Simone Fattal & Barbara Casavecchia 
Saturday, February 1, 2pm
A conversation with Simon Fattal and writer, curator and educator Barbara Casavecchia.

Eric Baudelaire: Un Film Dramatique

Thursday, February 20, 8pm
A talk with the French-American artist Eric Baudelaire, and screening of his film developed over the course of four years with the students of a middle school in the Parisian suburbs.

Adelita Husni-Bey 
Sunday, March 8, 1pm
A conversation on radical education models. In cooperation with Borealis - a festival for experimental music.

Chto Delat: Border Musical

Thursday, March 12, 8pm
A feature film challenging cultural and social norms of the neighbouring countries, Norway and Russia, through the format of a musical.

Lars Bang Larsen

Thursday, March 19, 8pm
Hot Circuits, Fleshless Bodies, Pear-Shaped Reason. Cybernetics and counterculture.

Bergen Kunsthall
Share - Simone Fattal
Fix Your Gaze On Saturn’s Rings
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York