Press Releases : 2015/08

Staging Two. “They Went Away to Stay”

Published 2015/08/12

Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri and Ben Morea, a time between, 2015. Courtesy the artists.

Norsk versjon




A project by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, with Ben Morea

Opening Reception: Wednesday, 19 August 2015 / 19:00
Staging Dates: Thursday, 20 August–Sunday, 1 November 2015*
Opening Hours: Thu–Sun. / 12:00–17:00

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7, 0551 Oslo I

Office for Contemporary Art Norway is pleased to announce Staging Two. “They Went Away to Stay”, a project by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri with Ben Morea, which is concluding the programme ‘Of Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings.’

Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri are committed to artistic processes and inquiries that actively attempt to transform the world around us. In this broader commitment to interrogate our time, and to imagine other potentialities (through what is called past and future), their practice has evolved and opened to a multiplicity of forms and manifestations such as film, performance, publication, unwork-shops and collective situations, reflecting the vital interplay between research, creation, and presentation.

For Staging Two. “They Went Away to Stay”, they have invited Ben Morea – artist, anarchist, and one of the critical voices to emerge from the radical counter cultural and political struggles of the 1960’s. Together they will attempt to animate and share questions that have been central to the way they engage with not only
this historical moment, but our relation to time itself, and to history. All three artists are interested in the way different historical processes including the intertwining of capitalism and colonialism have shaped the world. Morea has devoted the last 40 years to think through what a radical critique of colonialism could mean in the way life is lived and perceived. Anastas and Gabri have been reflecting upon the notions of development and underdevelopment, two critical terms through which the world continues to be divided and shaped.

As the artists write: ‘Development is the flag flapping on the progressive ship of modernity, sailing and at the same time sinking, yet convincing the world that it is the only way forward. Underdevelopment is the less tarnished word for what used to be called “primitive” or “backward” designating places, countries or communities that do not adhere to the paradigms of progress or modernity and have a different relation to history, time and tradition.’

On the opening night of Staging Two. “They Went Away to Stay”, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, with Ben Morea presented a screening partially based on a research trip they conducted in the north of Norway exploring the relation between culture and environment. The screening subsequently becomes a component of a multi- channel performative film whose various parts, or tracks, such as text, reading, sound, noise and visual are distributed in the entire space, interlinked but not always synchronised. This deconstructed film plays a central role in the staging, and includes notes for the script, continuous takes and superimposed sound-tracks which recur in small and larger screens. The film, is hence apprehended differently by every viewer traversing the physical exhibition space, eluding an unanimous edit and even its completion. (The film will then be presented in the installation thereafter.)

According to the artists, the aim is to reach a gestural cinema. This particular approach to individual re- composition and editing is near to an intuitive knowledge (contrary to rational knowledge) and moves cinema from the realm of aesthetics to the realm of ethics and politics. It is a trace of a capacity, not of a decision, of the ability to act and move without limitations.

The overall project brings together footage and research material from Nepal, India, Anatolia, the Middle East and Norway, to enter into a dialogue with diverse regions around the world about questions of development and underdevelopment in the global advancing of capitalist procedures on lands and natural resources.

Anastas, Gabri and Morea’s visit to Tromsø, and the Troms and the Finnmark counties was initiated as part of the OCA ISP programme. OCA thanks the collaboration support of High North AiR Network of the Troms fylkeskommune, the Tromsø Kunstforening and the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art.

Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri dislike biographies. Currently their work is also on view within the award- winning Armenian Pavilion, in the context of the 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Ben Morea believes in ongoing processes and doesn’t believe on resting on his so-called past.