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In the North Atlantic Pavilion we present three artists from West Nordic region. Hailing from the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland each represents a city that, though small in population, is fierce in their strength of identity. In small nations the experience of the city differs drastically from the image of the sprawling metropolis that readily springs to mind with the notion of the urban. In Tórshavn, Reykjavík and Nuuk the edge of town is never too far away, the idea of community not lost in a mythologised past. In these cities hospitality plays a central role, not just in the shared personal lives of their inhabitants but also in the building of the nation. Each city sits on the coast, each with a long history of welcoming visitors. But with any unknown visitor, particularly one backed by a greater power, there’s an inherent anxiety, a desire to impress and yet a necessity to keep a distance until intentions and allegiances are known. The rituals and acts of hospitality are like a dance revealing the culture and expectations of the host whilst creating an environment to encounter the hosted on home turf. The notion of hospitality is inherently a welcoming gesture but it creates and maintains a barrier between those inside and those out. In extending hospitality to another a host-guest relationship is created, a power relationship. However, the context is crucial - where hospitality is extended inherently one party is on unfamiliar ground and so, within this limiting context, existing power relationships of the wider world can be negotiated, played with and subverted – at least for a time. Focusing on work that raises questions about surface appearances of hospitality, the exhibition explores this tension between host and hosted. A common theme running throughout the work is the creation of space that welcomes audiences. Each artist creates their own stage for the encounter of hospitality to take shape, within which duration and experience beyond the visual is key – whether considering that experience through stasis, anticipation or degradation. In this accompanying film the artists reflect on their works. It is our aim to reveal a little more about how the encounters can be read from an insiders perspective in order to create an environment where relationships might go beyond the initial surface encounter to create deeper, lasting connections. Curated by Andy Brydon & Ingi Thor Jónsson The North Atlantic Pavilion is supported by the Kulturekontakt Nord Culture and Art Programme, the Nordic Culture Fund and Arts Council England’s grants for the arts. Special thanks are also due to Samskip and the Embassy of Iceland in the UK. City States is presented by Liverpool Biennial in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University. For more information on Curated Place and our ongoing international residency programme visit curatedplace.com+ More details
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Sassuma Arnaa was performed by Jessie Kleeman at the North Atlantic Pavilion, part of City States, Liverpool Biennial 2012. Vocal by Iben Mondrup and sound by Niels Lyngsø. September 14 2012. Part of Inuit mythical canon the story of the Mother of the Sea is told throughout the Arctic. Though variations exist at the tale's heart lies the story of a young woman taken out to sea only to be betrayed by her family and cast to the bottom of the ocean where she now lies presiding over her domain. Common in each version is her brutal demise. Whether known as Sedna, Arnaqquassaaq, Nuliajuk or Satsuma Arnaa she always meets her watery fate clinging to the side of her father's fishing boat only to have him sever her fingers one by one to save his own life. Legend has it that each of her severed fingers became one of the great sea mammals that sustain inuit life, with her now ruling over them all from ocean floor. A vengeful goddess she commands the creatures that are the very lifeblood of all Inuit people, demanding that hunters pray to her to release her creatures from the ocean depths and seeing them make offerings to placate her fiery temper. Even when customs are followed and taboos observed sometimes the hunt may continually fail. When this happens a shaman must transform themselves into a fish to visit Sassuma Arnaa, soothing her anger by cleaning and braiding her hair - something she cannot do herself having had her hands so violently and horribly disfigured. Accompanying her installation Jessie Kleeman performed live at the launch of the North Atlantic Pavilion seeking to explore the spirt of Sassuma Arnaa allowing her body to become both shamanic vessel and an embodiment of the Mother of the Sea. For her the performance is not narrative driven, that exists elsewhere, it is rather an attempt to connect with archaic and deep-seated notions of space, place, community and nature that seem so central to the human condition yet increasingly illusive in their expression and reverence. To find out more about Jessie's work in the exhibition, her practice and the other Nordic Artists exhibiting see: https://vimeo.com/channels/northatlantic or www.curatedplace.com.+ More details
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