Well now. Here’s one for the diary for many an Art North reader, I’m sure, but you don’t have long. LIAF, (Lofoten International Art Festival), is a migratory biennial in the archipelago of Lofoten in the Arctic Circle and is Norway’s longest running visual arts biennial, originating in 1991. Organised by the North Norwegian Art Centre, this year the festival will take place in Svolvær, a harbour town on the island of Austvågøy with 5,000 inhabitants, and will open on 30 August and run until 29 September 2019. The timing’s a bit tight, I know, but if it weren’t for the fact that it coincides with the launch of issue 3 of Art North, I’d be considering it myself.
LIAF has firmly established itself as an arena for international art, with a vision of the wider world and a particular focus on our own northern region. The biennial has no permanent form and each edition re-establishes itself in Lofoten exploring new modes of discovering the potentialities of art. LIAF 2019 will be presented across four venues in Svolvær and will present an expansive public programme titled High Tides, kicking off during the opening weekend, and including a major weekender in September: The Kelp Congress.
The Kelp Congress (in fact all things Kelp) get Art North’s Editorial Assistant, Lar Magregor rather excited, as anyone who attended her Kelp event in Ullapool for the Scottish Wildlife Trust last weekend will testify. LIAF’s Kelp Congress is set to take place between 20-22 September, but Ms MacGregor will not be going. Nonetheless, attendees in Norway will be focussing on the lesser explored artistic and cultural dimensions related to kelp and other macroalgae, with the event encouraging interest in the consideration of the performative, narrative, conceptual, and material approaches towards kelp. Throughout The Kelp Congress, seaweed will be promoted as a protagonist and collaborator within artistic and curatorial ways of making, and as a partner for cultural response within current and future ecological and environmental discussions.
Additional events include the Tides Residency. As the organisers note, “the tide follows the rhythm of the moon, not the sun.” Well, this much we knew (bit of a no brainer really) but a connection is here made with the manner in which the LIAF year has gone through its own cycle – “the artists-in-residence have come and gone, like the tide,” it says in the literature I have here, and “their works are linked to various local communities and can now all be experienced in the LIAF exhibition in Svolvær.” Included is the work in the village Digermulen of that group of practitioners known as Futurefarmers (I used to follow their work closely but seem to have lost touch with their output over recent years – Note to Self: reengage with FutureFarmers). Again, the literature tells me that they started at LIAF with an exploration of wind with the construction of a portable windmill, and throughout this year they expanded this to include a larger windmill and printing press.
Meanwhile in Valberg, the artist Trygve Luktvasslimo wrote, shot and edited his upcoming film Shallow Water Blackout, taking place in and around the intertidal zone (see trailer below). The artist duo João Pedro Vale and Nuno Alexandre Ferreira immersed themselves in the tiny island community of Skrova, where their work centered around cod and migration in a wide perspective, and the long, white beach in Ramberg provided a stunning backdrop to artist Signe Lidén's 28-meter long sounding canvas, erected in the intertidal zone where she recorded the sound of the tide.
To go on would probably overdo it, but there’s plenty here to capture the imagination, allow for a reimagining of such a beautiful location through contemporary art interventions, and to generally enthral on so many levels. Indeed, the opening weekend includes a programme of performances, screenings and artist talks, too (check out the website for details).
Getting there is pretty tricky at short notice, I know, seeing as LIAF occurs on that cluster of islands located on the Northern Coast of Norway, just above the Arctic Circle. Since 1999, LIAF has presented works by international artists in a local and site-specific context, however, and by all accounts it’s a real draw.
Since 2009, the festival has been run by the North Norwegian Art Center (NNKS) and LIAF’s Artistic Advisory Board. LIAF and NNKS receive operational support from the Arts Council Norway, the counties of Finnmark, Troms and Nordland, and the municipality of Vågan. The Lofoten archipelago, though lying within the Arctic Circle, experiences one of the world’s largest elevated temperature anomalies relative to its high latitude and is known for its distinctive scenery with mountains, peaks, open sea and sheltered bays and beaches.
Above: The featurette Shallow Water Breakout by Trygve Luktvasslimo is based on the legend of Amelia and Steven, two children who committed mutiny on board luxury cruise vessel The World.
Curated by Hilde Methi, Neal Cahoon, Karolin Tampere and Torill Østby Haaland, the roll call of participating artists is pretty long: Anna Boberg, Michaela Casková, Devil’s Apron (Kåre Grundvåg and Trond Ansten), Futurefarmers (Amy Franceschini and Lode Vranken), Signe Johannessen, Toril Johannessen, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Jackie Karuti, Damla Kilickiran, Signe Lidén, Trygve Luktvasslimo, Tricia Middleton, Soundcamp, Kateřina Šedá, Morten Torgersrud, Paola Torres Núñez del Prado and João Pedro Vale & Nuno Alexandre Ferreira, Bob L. Sturm, David Grubbs and Susan Howe, Diana Deutsch, Elatu Nessa, Éliane Radigue, Green Music (Francesco Cavaliere and Tomoko Sauvage), Heike Vester, Laurie Spiegel, Pauline Oliveros & Ione, Tomoko Sauvage, Cecilia Vicuña (amongst others).