Press Releases : 2015/11

Finissage of the Nordic Pavilion, 20–22 November 2015

Published 2015/11/12

Official inauguration of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 6 May 2015. Performance by the Camille Norment Trio. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

A project by Camille Norment

Performances by:

Camille Norment Trio

20 November 2015 at 2.30 pm

Camille Norment Trio and Sofia Jernberg
21 and 22 November 2015 at 2.30 pm

Commissioner: Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA)
Curator: Katya García-Antón, OCA Director, in collaboration with Antonio Cataldo, OCA Senior Programmer

The Nordic Pavilion
Giardini di Castello, Venice

The clear knockout of the Giardini, Norway takes over the Nordic Pavilion with Camille Norment’s aptly named ‘Rapture’, a gorgeous sonic and architectural landscape of broken glass panes and giant microphone-like speakers that emit the soothing, penetrating drone of music composed on a glass harmonica.

– Artsy, 7 May 2015

Multisensory, poetic with an oblique but insistent and powerful political message: bravo!

– The Art Newspaper, 8 May 2015

Following great critical acclaim of Norway’s contribution to the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) is pleased to announce the upcoming and concluding performances within ‘Rapture’. This year Norway is solely responsible for the Nordic Pavilion at the La Biennale di Venezia for the first time in its history. For this unprecedented occasion, OCA has commissioned artist Camille Norment (b.1970) to develop the project.

Norment’s ‘Rapture’ is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist has composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument which 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 by over-exciting its listeners.

In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music sustains today by creating a multi-sensory space within which she reflects upon the history of sound, and contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance. The artist composes a chorus of voices corresponding to the unresolved notes of the much censored ‘devils’s’ tritone of the glass armonica, thus immersing visitors into ‘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, subject to consonance and dissonance.

Throughout the run of La Biennale di Venezia, Norment has been performing new compositions on the glass armonica and has invited artists as well as musicians to participate in a series of performances that echo elements of the installation.

On Friday 20 and Sunday 22 November at 2.30 pm, Norment will present new compositions with The Camille Norment 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 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 was subsequently banned. On Saturday 21 November at 2.30 pm the Swedish soprano, voice-artist, improviser and composer Sofia Jernberg will perform in the pavilion. Throughout her career Jernberg has developed a unique vocabulary of sounds and techniques which include split tone, pitchless and distorted singing which allow her to appear in a broad constellation of music performances across time and genres. Jernberg’s versatile vocalisation will expand the twelve-voice chorus that Norment composed for the soundscape of the pavilion, pushing the limits of sound and music.

The performances are co-produced by OCA, nyMusikk and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, with the kind support of Music Norway.

Another counterpart to ‘Rapture’ is a three-volume publication reflecting on the relationship between sound and the visual arts across time, while complicating the hegemony of vision in contemporary theory and art practice. Rapture Vol.1, 2 and 3 features contributions by an international set of practitioners from various fields in music, research and theory.

These include David Toop, María del Pilar Blanco and Rob Stone (first volume, published May 2015); Anne Hilde Neset, Greg Tate, and Sami Khatib (second volume); Nabil Ahmed and Nida Ghouse (third volume). The publications also contain a series of discussions between Norment and curators Katya García-Antón and Antonio Cataldo, addressing the reasoning behind an artistic practice which seeks to remistify the influence of sound upon our collective consciousness.

For media enquiries please contact OCA's Communications Manager Tara Hassel.

For more information about the artist and performers, please click here.

OCA is a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001 with the aim of developing cultural collaborations between Norway and the international arts scene. OCA aims to become one of the main organs in the international contemporary arts debate through initiatives such as exhibitions, seminars and publications, as well as by providing support to Norwegian artists for their activities in the international art arena, and by inviting international curators and artists to Norway. OCA has been responsible for Norway's contribution to the visual arts section of La Biennale di Venezia since 2001.