For the Nordic Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, international curator René Block has selected Toril Goksøyr and Camilla Martens to be included within an expanded project. The project, referred to under the title, Welfare - Fare Well, will include the work, It would be nice to do something political from 2002.
Goksøyr and Martens are both educated as actors and artists, and have been collaborating on developing performance based art projects since 1997. The performative figures into and permeates their work and in the production while also integrating video or photography. These performances have predominantly been staged in the theatre or a gallery space but are not limited to these contexts.
The artistic collaboration of Goksøyr and Martens is a common product. Having started working together still at the Art Academy in Oslo, the artists feel that their shared educational background makes their collaboration easier resulting out of a dialogue arrived to without a need for great negotiation. The artists' intention is for their work, often inspired by the documentary, to be theatrical, political, feminist. Their respective background as actors makes them both aware and frustrated about how theatre is made today, how people working in this field think, and how artists working within performance-based art exhibit little knowledge about theatre. Goksøyr and Martens react to the somewhat exclusive separation of the two fields - theatre and performance - and as such, their inclination is to bring their knowledge from the theatre into performance art. In their opinion, much performance-based art neglects a consciousness about the performer's position in relation to the audience. This doesn't necessarily imply that Goksøyr and Martens perform themselves within a given project or work with professionally trained actors. In particular circumstances, they specifically choose to work with amateurs in an effort to raise awareness about the very utilization of an actor in art.
It would be nice to do something political was originally produced in 2002 and has been shown in various cities since then. It is a project and a work that changes according to where, how and in which context it is shown, at times offering itself as a societal critique, and at others, an institutional critique. It would be nice to do something political was first shown within the window of Tempo Limit, located within the Der Spiegel building in Hamburg. The window faced a heavily trafficked road with few pedestrians passing by. As such, the aspect of duration became essential to the reading of the work, as the viewers were essentially drivers passing by in their cars. Located across the street from the installed work, hung a monumental billboard for H&M that in many ways did not look altogether different from the image produced by Goksøyr and Martens further complicating the reading of the work as an artwork. The project was more recently duplicated in René Block's Belgrade Biennale, which opened in September 2006. Installed in a shop window within the streets of a city less economically well off than Hamburg, it took on another meeting for the viewer. In its future installation in the Giardini within the Venice Biennale, the work will be located in yet an altogether different context than previously. In the upcoming venue, the viewers will clearly understand the work within an art context. This situation may, according to the artists, prompt one to focus on how the artists are trying to communicate and how they are attempting to produce meaning, making the work more self-referential. In this sense, the artists hope to convey the work's more ironic commentary on the correctness in acting politically as an artist. Goksøyr and Martens feel Block's selection of title for the Nordic Pavilion Welfare - Fare Well, amplifies the political dimension of their work.
Goksøyr and Martens are among the few female artists selected to represent Norway at the Nordic Pavilion. Since opening in 1962, the Nordic representation has included only five female artists selected prior to the participation of Goksøyr and Martens. They are only to enthusiastic to accompany a line up of artists in this edition of the Venice Biennale that includes Tracy Emin (British Pavilion), Isa Genzken (German Pavilion) and Sophie Calle (French Pavilion).
Therese Veier, 2 February 2007