In the North Atlantic Pavilion we present three artists from West Nordic region: Hanni Bjartalid from the Faroe Islands, Sigurdur Gudjonsson from Iceland and Jessie Kleemann from Greenland - each representing a city as part of City States 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.
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 www.curatedplace.com
The North Atlantic Pavilion is open until the 25th November 2012 as part of Liverpool Biennial's City States in the Old Sorting Office, Copperas Hill, L3 1AA.