Presented by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), “Rapture” is Norway”s contribution to the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. In 2015 Norway is solely responsible for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for the first time in its history. For this unprecedented occasion, OCA commissioned artist Camille Norment (b. 1970) to develop the project.
Camille norment has realized a site-specific installation within the nordic pavilion at the venice art biennale 2015. “rapture”, curated by katya garcía-antón, unfolded during the opening days of the international art exhibition as a set of performances by musicians and vocalists at specific times; and a three-part publication which explores the relationship between the human body and sound, through the visual, the sonic and the architectural body.
the oslo-based artist works with the glass armonica – an 18th-century instrument invented by benjamin franklin that creates ethereal music from the touch of fingers on glass and water – and a chorus of 12 female voices. weaving these elements together within the pavilion itself, norment 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.
Music has long been used to facilitate both the forging and transgressing of cultural norms. sound permeates all borders. throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centralizer of control. recognized as capable of inducing states akin to sex and drugs, music is still seen by many in the world as an experience to be controlled – especially in relation to the female body – and yet it is also increasingly used as a tool for control under the justification of war.
“rapture” reflects on how the body can be defined and potentiated by sound, with the pavilion speaking of the tensions between harmony and dissonance. Music lives in the span between poetry and catastrophe”, the visitor to the nordic pavilion walks into a sculptural and sonic installation torn between these two ideas, a space between a body in trauma and a body in rapture.
Spanning performance, installation, drawing and sound, norment”s work explores how the body is connected through sound with our environment, contemplating the power of dissonance and its ability to carve out a space for new, affirmative thinking. “camille norment is one of the most exciting artists working in norway today, creating work to be experienced viscerally and poetically. her practice is unusual in that it crosses the fields of art and music, mining historical and sonic dichotomies to trace unresolved social dialogues that continue today.
Camille Norment (born 1970) is an Oslo-based multimedia artist who works with sound, installation, sculpture, drawing, performance and video. Camille Norment is one of the most innovative, cross-disciplinary artists working in Norway today. Her work is both poetic and physical, and considers sound as an evocative artistic medium. Norment also works as a musician and composer. She performs with Vegar Vårdal and Håvard Skaset in the Camille Norment Trio.
Camille Norment was born in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1970. She studied interactive technologies at New York University and literary science and history of art at the University of Michigan. In the late 1990s, Norment worked at Interval Research, a research and development technology laboratory co-founded by Paul Allen and David Liddle. There, she worked on haptically manipulating media, among other projects.
In 2015, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) selected her to represent Norway in the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where she presented her work “Rapture”.
Additionally, Norment has completed several commissioned works to public spaces, amongst others the sound installation “Within the Toll” (2011) for Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and her 2008 work “Triplight”, which in 2013 was featured at the entrance of the MoMA exhibition “Soundings: A Contemporary Score.”
In 2017 Camille Norment presented a solo exhibition at Oslo Kunstforening. This constituted her first solo presentation in Norway.
“Dead Room”, 2000, The Project, New York.
“Triplight”, 2008, September Gallery, Berlin, Germany
“Within the Toll”, 2011, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
Within the Camille Norment Trio, Norment notably plays the glass armonica, electric guitar, and the Hardanger fiddle. Her own armonica is composed of 24 glass bowls ranging two octaves. Norment has described the sound of the armonica as “…extremely visceral. It’s a very pure crystalline sound.”
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.
Norment”s “Rapture” is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water. Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill through over-exciting its listeners.
In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music raises today by creating a multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice. The artist composes a chorus of voices that correspond to the unresolved notes of the much censored “devils”s” tritone and of the glass armonica, and this chorus immerses visitors to “Rapture”.
“Rapture” explores the relationship between the human body and sound, through visual, sonic, sculptural and architectural stimuli. Today the sonic realm can be both a space of misuse, as we have seen in the militaristic use of sound to abuse the body, and of affirmation, as in the performative utterance of free speech to affirm the right of the body”s very existence. The body can be stimulated and moved by sound, and in Norment”s work, the Nordic Pavilion itself becomes a body in rapture and rupture, consonance and dissonance.
Sound, by its nature, permeates borders – even invisible ones. Throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centraliser of control. Music is still seen by many in the world as an experience that should be controlled – especially in relation to the female body – and yet it is also increasingly used as a tool for control, especially under the justifications of war.
Throughout the run of la Biennale di Venezia, Norment is performing new compositions on the glass armonica and invited artists and musicians to participate in a series of performances that echo elements in the installation.
The Camille Norment Trio consists 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 performs 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.
The Swedish vocalist Sofia Jernberg will also perform with Camille Norment. While Norment plays the glass armonica, whose sonic vibrations permeate the space and the broken glass (which has sonic exciters attached to it that send vibrations through it), Jernberg”s versatile vocalisation will expand the 12-voice chorus that Norment composed for the soundscape of the pavilion. Both will push the limits of sound and music.
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.
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.
Camille Norment and David Toop
On 8 May 2015 Camille Norment and David Toop presented 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 drew 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.
Camille Norment Trio, constituted by Vegar Vårdal, Håvard Skaset, and Camille Norment, investigates the visceral qualities of resonance, noise, and overtone. Their performances are an organic movement between the composed and the improvised, creating a dynamic soundscape that defies a fixed genre reference. The Camille Norment Trio”s performance credits include The Kitchen, New York, NY; Cleveland Museum of Art; Ultima New Music Festival, Oslo; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK). Their first release, Toll, is available on Prisma Records. Reviews of their work have appeared in The Wire, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Aftenposten and KuNordische Musik.
Sofia Jernberg is soprano, voice-artist, improviser and composer. She studied jazz at Fridhems Folkhögskola, Svalöv, Sweden and trained at Gotlands Tonsättarskola, Visby, Sweden, a school exclusively devoted to music composition. Jernberg was the 2008 Royal Swedish Academy of Music Jazz Award recipient and she co-leads and composes for modern jazz octet Paavo and contemporary Lieder quartet The New Songs. Throughout the years she developed a unique vocabulary of sounds and techniques which include split tone singing, pitchless singing and distorted singing which allow her to appear in a broad constellation of music performances across time and genres.
David Toop is a composer, author, curator and Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at the London College of Communication. He has published extensively. His first book, Rap Attack, is now in its third edition. Since the publication Ocean of Sound in 1995 he had recorded five solo albums, including Screen Ceremonies, Pink Noir and Spirit World and published Exotica: Fabricated Soundscapes in a Real World.
Pavilion of the Scandinavian countries
Nordic Pavilion to its presentation at La Biennale di Venezia, The pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn, was built between 1958 and 1962. The open space was designed to let in light reminiscent of that of Nordic countries. Fredrik Fogh extended the building in 1987.
The cooperation between Finland, Norway and Sweden in Venice was initiated in 1962 after the completion of the Nordic Pavilion. Until 1984, the representation of each country was organized nationally. From 1986 to 2009 the pavilion was commissioned as a whole, with the curatorial responsibility alternating between the collaborating countries.
Between 2011 and 2015, Sweden, Finland, and Norway took turns curating the pavilion alone. In 2017, they began joint curation again.
Venice Biennale 2015
The 2015 Art Biennale closes a sort of trilogy that began with the exhibition curated by Bice Curiger in 2011, Illuminations, and continued with the Encyclopedic Palace of Massimiliano Gioni (2013). With All The World’s Futures, La Biennale continues its research on useful references for making aesthetic judgments on contemporary art, a “critical” issue after the end of the avant-garde and “non-art” art.
Through the exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor, La Biennale returns to observe the relationship between art and the development of human, social and political reality, in the pressing of external forces and phenomena: the ways in which, that is, the tensions of the external world solicit the sensitivities, the vital and expressive energies of the artists, their desires, the motions of the soul (their inner song ).
La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008, and before that from 1998 to 2001. La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions, festivals and researches in all its specific sectors: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its activities are documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that recently has been completely renovated.
The relationship with the local community has been strengthened through Educational activities and guided visits, with the participation of a growing number of schools from the Veneto region and beyond. This spreads the creativity on the new generation (3,000 teachers and 30,000 pupils involved in 2014). These activities have been supported by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. A cooperation with Universities and research institutes making special tours and stays at the exhibitions has also been established. In the three years from 2012-2014, 227 universities (79 Italian and 148 international) have joined the Biennale Sessions project.
In all sectors there have been more research and production opportunities addressed to the younger generation of artists, directly in contact with renowned teachers; this has become more systematic and continuous through the international project Biennale College, now running in the Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema sections.