CoSA – Concerning the Spiritual in Art (2017-2021)
A project by LATERNA // Marianne Skjeldal and Inger-Reidun Olsen
CoSA – Concerning the Spiritual in Art ( Part Two, 2018-2021) is a 4-year project run by LATERNA //Inger-Reidun Olsen and Marianne Skjeldal, both choreographers and dance artists, now working more towards performance, collaborating trans-disciplinary with other artists. By exploring sites with spiritual reference or history, -and staying with the place, we re-create lost rituals and create new artworks. In dialogue with the place, and people in this place, we include material, objects, sound, movement and actions in relation to each chosen site.
May 2018 the project received funding from the Norwegian Arts Council: Link!
CoSA (2018-2021) is founded in the artistic work and research that LATERNA and LOCUS made during CoSA 2017, when we visited Athens (GR), Monte Verità (CH), Kvalsund/Hammerfest (NO), St. Petersburg (RU) and made performative work in each place. From 2018- onwards LATERNA is running the CoSA project by themselves. CoSA´s aim is still the same: to channel and interpret the spirit of places into our artworks and performances and explore sites with spiritual reference or history (memory). During 2017, we learned that “spiritual”, to us, is mostly related to our connection to nature, to place, to people.Touching borderlands of dance, choreography, ritual and healing, the artworks are relational, make places accessible and open space for dialogue and transformation.
CoSAs Part two consists of site-specific performances, artist books, workshops, cyclic choreographic practices like Tree Talks, the choreographic growing of sister gardens in two countries (NO/RU), sharing of Anna Halprin´s Planetary Dance Ritual, a festival at Black Box Theatre in Oslo, a collective gathering at Monte Verità (CH) and more.
With the CoSA-project, we also draw lines a 100-years back to the artists who were active then, busy with similar topics. By initiating this project we wish to contextualize the spiritual in art today and draw lines and connections to the spiritual in art about 100 years ago. The 2010- and onwards has a profound connection to what happened in the world in the 1910s and 20s. With political, economical and technological changes, we as artists see a strong parallel with the past. Art has always, through the history of humanity, been used as a tool to link the unknown and mystical with the everyday. By writing and publishing the book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”, which directly links to the book with the same name by Wassily Kandinsky published in 1911, we wish to invite a broad specter of artists and scholars to write alongside with our own reflections. The Kandinsky publication had a profound influence on art through history, however the spiritual in artistic praxis and expression has been quite hidden in the mainstream art world for the last 50 years. With newfound work and international exhibitions by artists, such as Hilma Af Klint, new interest in the spiritual in art is on the rise as many contemporary artists, such as ourselves, is influenced and inspired by their work.
Other artists that inspire us are Emma Kunz and the Russian Avantgarde, especially Guro and Malevich. During 2018-2020 we are regularly visiting St.Petersburg, collaborating with the Museum of St. Petersburg Avantgarde in St. Petersburg, were we are re-vitalizing the museum garden, in collaboration with the Botanical Garden, as one of our projects. In this part of the project, which we so far call CoSA Garden St. Petersburg//Pollinary Dances, we invite local contemporary Russian artists, to think and work alongside ourselves, to create art-pieces specifically for the museum garden. Connecting then with now, as well as being influenced by the projects overall thinking based on ecology.
In bringing the Museum Garden back to life, as an art project, we (as artists) look back at the artists who resided and worked at the house on Pesochnaya during the 1910s and 1920s and formed the Russian Avantgarde, to understand the genius loci of this place. We also get information from the museum archive on former plants and trees in the garden (as well as existing ones), as well as researching and learning from the garden itself as place. We are inspired by Elena Guro (1877-1913), with her profound love and insightful understanding of nature. And it is in this spirit we are looking back at the 1910s and 20s, in respect of the house and the garden, with it´s oasis of calm, with a wish to again make the garden a place for people to come together, to interact with plants, to find calm and inspiration as well as elements of play and surprise,- all on nature´s premisses, and in dialogue with nature itself.
CoSA Garden//Pollinary Dances is the choreographic growing of sister gardens in two countries (NO/RU). The project has an overall ecological thinking as it´s foundation, so that the human/plant connection can be explored. As dance artists and choreographers, we wish to think of the revival /(re)building / restoration of the garden as a dialogue with nature, plants, the place, people in this place, the past, present and future, and see how the building and growing of the garden can create movements in smaller - and larger scale, as a choreography/Pollinary Dance between plants, pollinators and people. Sustainability and a listening to nature is a cornerstone in the CoSA project.
Parallel to CoSA Garden St. Petersburg, CoSA Garden BBt/Pollinary Dances is happening and being built at Black Box theatre in Oslo, Spring 2021..
The vertical, outdoor garden wall will be built on the façade of BBt, in collaboration with Skajaa Arkitekter. Involved in the project as collaborator is also Unikum AS and artists-and gardeners Ingeborg S. Olerud and Fernanda Branco.
CoSA Garden BBt//Pollinary Dances is a visionary green supplement to the local community, a living art work, a green lunge, a place to make a pause, to meet people, inviting to interaction between plants, humans and pollinators. We are curious to see how the building and growing of the gardens can create movements in smaller - and larger scale, as a local/trans-national choreography/Pollinary Dance.
As part of the 'Pollinary Dances', pyramid shaped herb-and plant parcels have arrived in the foyer at BBt. The plant parcels are satellites to the coming garden wall. The plant parcels are meant for you as an invitation to engage with plants, care and hope in these precarious times, as an on going tender laboratory.
In June 2019, LATERNA worked, together with Keith Hennessy, Dohee Lee, Geir Hytten and Milla Wexels Riser at Steilneset in Vardø, Norway, side by side with Steilneset Memorial, also known as the Witch Monument, where so many people had to give their lives, being accused of witchcraft and magic. Together we made a performance, in the form of a Closing Ritual, in this very landscape, where so much love and powers went up in flames, asking if it is possible to again gather people in this place - with a new intention- to possibly create healing in this place.
Working at Monte Verità in Switzerland, which has been a huge inspiration for us, with the birth of the counterculture that started growing there, and the years that followed from the early 20´s on, is a way to link our artistic interests to this specific time and place in history, and draw connections from the people, artists and visitors who resided there over decades, their dreams of Utopia, (a better society – a return to nature) and to look at - what could be artistic responses to this phenomena - in our own time? In August 2019 we invite artists to Monte Verità to SHAKE THE MOUNTAIN with us.
SHAKE THE MOUNTAIN became a 3-day ritual where artists again gather in the magnetic place of Monte Verità. Tracing history to get connected with the place, shaking up who we are, to be able to plant new intentions.
We were interested in how the spirit of a place influence how we are in this world, how we make work, how we think of life, the world and ourselves. We see our three days, as a gathering ritual to make ourselves at home in this place, to let go of fixed beliefs, and at last to plant new intentions, that hopefully can reverberate into the world. It sounds perhaps a little bit much for three days, but we worked already on certain practices, exercises and rituals to allow this transformation to happen.
On August 31st we invite to an Open Performance event at Monte Verità, where people from near and far, can come and join us. All are welcome!
As an ongoing practice during these 3 years, LATERNA has invited different artists to engage in the practice 'Tree Talks', the recurring visits of four city-trees, during four seasons, throughout the project period.
June 16th-21st 2021 we will host a 4-day festival at Black Box Theatre in Oslo, were traces from all these works will culminate into some kind of exhibition dialoguing with art works and performances by other artists. The vertical plant wall, will have it´s official opening with a performance made specifically for this place and we will be sharing 'Tree Talks' four mornings. A seminar with round table conversations - where we discuss and reflect on the spiritual in art today, through the lens of ecology, with invited artists and scholars sharing their perspectives, will be framed by workshops open to all audiences, wrapping it all up with a collective healing ritual for peace by hosting Anna Halprin´s Planetary Dance Ritual. WELCOME!!