Lofoten International Art Festival takes place in the municipality of Vågan in the Lofoten archipelago – August 28 – September 27.
LIAF is a festival for contemporary art taking place in Lofoten a cluster of islands located on the North West Coast of Norway, just above the Arctic Circle, every second year. The festival was first initiated in 1991, as a local art exhibition with a broad range of expressions and with a regional profile. From 1999, the festival was given an international profile changing the name to Lofoten International Art Festival, and since 2009, the festival has been run by The North Norwegian Art Center (NNKS) and LIAF’s artistic advisory board.
LIAF presents works by international artists in a local and site-specific context and seeks to be an open, experimental and including meeting place for artists, audience and locals. LIAF acknowledges the complexity of place and seeks to be a discursive, engaged and social platform for different positions creating a dialogue between the local and global. The prospect of developing and discovering new knowledge and understanding through art is the core of the festival. LIAF is not connected to a permanent location or space, but is invented anew every time by infiltrating and moving into already existing structures: Everything from a garage, a library, a shed, a bunker, a fish drying rack, a private house, a shop or an old warehouse. New curators also develop the festival every time, with diverse backgrounds, ideas and practices and in different ways bringing the familiar and unfamiliar together. By insisting on this open and experimental approach, we believe LIAF can be a place for exchange and involvement on multitude levels, every time revealing new things about our world and ourselves.
LIAF has taken place eight times since 1999 presenting artists like Gillian Wearing, Lawrence Weiner, AK Dolven, Ken Lum, Olafur Eliasson, Mari Slaattelid, Elmgren & Dragseth, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Pipilotti Rist, Geir Tore Holm, Eija Liisa Athila, Jesper Just, Amar Kanwar, Tori Wrånes, Michel Auder, Kjersti Andvig, John Giorno, Lene Berg, Lindsay Seers, David Horvitz, Mahmoud Khaled, HC Gilje, Karl Larsson, Shilpa Gupta, István Csácány, Lisa Tan and many more.
LIAF curators have been Tor Inge Kveum, Per Gunnar Tverbakk, Vibeke Sjøvoll, Gry Ulrichsen, Göran Christenson, Maaretta Jaukkuri, Taru Elfving, Richard Borgström, Helga-Marie Nordby, Thora Dolven Balke, Linn Pedersen, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Bassam El Baroni and Eva González-Sancho.
Kjell Ove Storvik
Disappearing Acts 2015
Titled Disappearing Acts, LIAF 2015 will take its thematic basis on ideas of human agency disappearing through the processes of history, ecology, and technology. This approach is informed by the context of the Lofoten Islands, with its precarious economic-environmental dependency, its highly marketable “screensaver” scenery, and its cultural legacy of self-sufficiency and retreat from the antagonism of the urbanised world. Organised as a large-scale group exhibition, Disappearing Acts will feature 25–30 international artists, with many works commissioned especially for LIAF 2015. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a full public programme and publication.
The “Jern & Bygg” premises in Svolvær serves as the main venue for LIAF 2015. Jern & Bygg was a family-owned hardware store and furniture outlet that operated continuously from 1948 to 2010. The business developed through the decades and new sections were repeatedly added to the original building. When it closed in 2010, it had expanded to a scale of 3,500 square meters across several floors. The history of the premises runs parallel to the post-war history of Norway and Lofoten, from the expansive rebuilding after WWII, the rise of Social Democracy, the re-creation of Norway as a petrostate in the ’70s, the discontinuation of industrial production, monopolization of the fishing industry and subsequently the gentrification and touristification of the new millennium. The building is now the last example of pragmatic waterfront architecture in Svolvær. After LIAF 2015, the building will be demolished.
The North Norwegian Art Center (NNKS) is a juncture institution for Northern Norway responsible for presenting contemporary art and arts and crafts. NNKS is an artist-run institution owned by The North-Norwegian Visual Artist Association (NNBK) and The North Norwegian Craft Association (NKNN).
Curators for 2015
Matt Packer is a curator and writer currently based in Northern Ireland. He is Director of CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art) in Derry~Londonderry, and an Associate Director of Treignac Projet in France. Packer says he is delighted to have the opportunity to co-curate LIAF 2015: What makes LIAF so unique is not only the spectacular scenery and sociability of the Lofoten Islands but also its remarkable history of developing artistic dialogues that extend outwardly from Lofoten and into other arenas. As a festival, it has a restless ambition to think through new models of curatorial approach at a time when the formula for larger-scale biennale-type contemporary art events seems ever more standardized. As such, I’d like to think that curating LIAF 2015 will not only be a conversation about art and artists but a conversational experiment in public practice.
Arne Skaug Olsen is a curator, art critic and writer based in Bergen in Norway. He is a regular contributor to Nordic online web journal for art criticism, kunstkritikk.no, and has published writings in Camera Austria, Klasskampen, Billedkunst and Kunstjournalen B-Post, among others. Skaug Olsen is also excited: It is an honor to be trusted with the task of co-curating the next LIAF, one of the most important recurring art events in Norway. I have followed the biennale closely, and on two occasions been part of the LIAF crew, in different capacities. It´s a privilege to now be a part of the festivals history, and to shape it´s future. Lofoten is truly a unique place, especially because of all the open minded and welcoming people in the region, but also because their outspokenness and their interest in art and culture. Conversations in Lofoten are never dull, and I´m looking forward to participate in the ongoing dialogue with the people of Lofoten about what role art and artist should play in their community, and beyond.
Anna Ådahl (b.1973 in Stockholm, Sweden, lives and works in Stockholm and London, UK) studied at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, France. Her works spans performance, film and installation. Ådahl’s work has been presented at Taiga Space, St. Petersburg, Russia (2014); Botkyrka Konsthall, Stockholm (2013); WELD, Stockholm (2013); FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2012); Centrum för Fotografi, Stockholm (2009); and Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennal, Niigata-Ken, Japan (2006).
Roderick Hietbrink (b.1975 in Gorssel, the Netherlands, lives and works in Oslo, Norway and Amsterdam, the Netherlands) holds a MFA from Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. Hietbrink’s work span video installation, film, performance, objects and photography, investigating aspects of the psychology and inherent conflicts between the rational and instinctive self. His work has been exhibited at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; De Appel, Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Artspace Visual Art Centre, Sydney, Australia; and the 5th Moscow Biennale, Russia.
Sam Basu (b.1967 in London, UK, lives and works in Treignac, France) is the Director of Treignac Projet, an exhibition and workshop project established in 2007 together with Liz Murray. Sam Basu works predominantly with sculptural installation and architectural-research projects, with a particular interest in the relationship between esoteric and activist approaches to counter-culturalism. He often works in collaboration with other artists, including Shahin Afrassiabi, Francis Upritchard, and Matt Bryans. Basu’s work has been presented at Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland; Camden Arts Centre, London; and Laing Gallery, Newcastle, UK.
Jon Benjamin Tallerås (b. 1984 in Oslo, Norway, lives and works in Oslo) graduated from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 2011. His work spans different media, including photography, video, sculpture, performance, text and installation. Tallerås investigates urban space, exploring hidden and often non-used areas of the city. His sculptures are often made out of found materials. Tallerås is one of the co-founders and curators of the project space One Night Only. He has exhibited his work at Akershus Kunstsenter, Lillestrøm, Norway (2014); Kunsthall Oslo (2014); Oslo Kunstforening, Oslo (2013); Gallery BOA, Oslo (2013); and NoPlace, Oslo (2011).
Steinar Haga Kristensen (b.1980 in Oslo, Norway, lives and works in Oslo) studied at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna and at Sydney College of Art. Haga Kristensen’s work seeks to unveil the positive lingual potentiality inherent in the exuberant modernity. He often stages theatricalised spectatorship and mannerist sculptural repetition. He is one of the founding members of the artist group D.O.R. Haga Kristensen has presented his work at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; Etablissement d’en face projects, Brussels; Kunsthall Oslo; Gallery Rod Bianco, Oslo; The Danish Pavilion at the 54th International Art Biennial in Venice; Witte de With, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Dortmund Bodega, Oslo; Gallery Niklas Belenius, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark and Young Artists’ Society (UKS), Oslo; and Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway.
Photos supplied by LIAF.