CoSA – Concerning the Spiritual in Art (2017-2021)
A project by LATERNA // Marianne Skjeldal and Inger-Reidun Olsen
Photos: André Wulf, Fili Olsefski, Rino Engdal, Elisabeth K. Nilsson, Ekatarina Shelganova, Daniel Zimmerman, Marianne Skjeldal and Inger-Reidun Olsen
In 2017 CoSA started out as a collaboration between the artists Inger-Reidun Olsen and Marianne Skjeldal (LATERNA) and Thale Fastvold and Tanja Thorjussen (LOCUS). Through our various artistic practices in performance art, dance, photography and drawing, LATERNA and LOCUS were collaborating throughout 2017 in exploring the spiritual in contemporary art as well as researching the spiritual in art that unfolded 100 years ago in Europe. Through our collaboration we wanted to merge performative- and visual arts traditions and to share knowledge and experience from each other's practices.
In the early 1900s Wassily Kandinskys’ publication “Concerning the spiritual in art” (1911) was published and many other artists such as Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz, was influenced by spiritism, séances and alternative lifestyles, among others vegetarianism. In the last years we have seen a return of the spiritual expressed in contemporary art, especially in connection to ecological and environmental thinking, renewed focus on indigenous knowledge and our relationship to nature.
CoSA 2017 aimed to channel and interpret the spirit of places (Genius Loci) into our artworks. By travelling to and exploring sites with spiritual reference or history, meeting with people and nature in these places, we recreated lost rituals and created new artworks.
Our first journey together took us on a research trip to Monte Veritá in Switzerland, followed by our project initiation in Athens during Documenta 14 opening week (April 2017) in collaboration with The Norwegian Institute at Athens, with performance and book launch. Our next event took place at summer solstice at Áhkánjárstábba/Stalloen, in Kvalsund, Hammerfest, in Norway, followed by a performance and exhibition at the museum of St. Petersburg Avantgarde in St. Petersburg, and another performance-event during Dansefestival Barents in Hammerfest in November. LOCUS pulled out of the collaboration in spring 2018, as the project was awarded funding for another 3 years, due to the workload and engagement that this timespan would demand.
2017 was a lot about ‘planting seeds’ and initiating collaborations. Little did we know that many of these would become long lasting. Much of the methodological work in CoSA can be traced back to LATERNA´s collaboration even before the CoSA-project; an interest in inner work and meditation as a form of deeper listening, stemming from a philosophy and belief in that inner politics become outer politics - and action. We shared a wish to acknowledge inner imagery and intuition experienced through meditations, and to use these as tools in our art practice and creation, as well as in dialogue and community with others. A question we had all this time, and still ask, is; Can we, by making art, tune in and connect to places, people and more-than-human life forms and achieve a condition of connection, conversation, community and togetherness?
CoSA- Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Part 2 (2018-2021)
May 2018 the CoSA project again received funding from the Norwegian Arts Council: Link!
CoSA (2018-2021) is founded in the artistic work and research 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.
CoSA´s aim in ‘Part 2’ is on one hand 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) by recreating lost rituals and creating new artworks. During the years of research in CoSA´s Part two, the work has grown upon us, and more layers have revealed themselves. Layers of listening, community and attention to more-than-human worlds, has made the work develop organically and grow, almost like a funghi-network, where people, places and plants, co-exist in an artistic ecology.
During 2017, we learned that “spiritual”, to us, is mostly related to our connection to nature, to place, to people. Together with other artists, practitioners and scholars, we are tracing history and creating new ways of shaping communities, gathering collectives grounded in an artistic ecology, where everything exists in a context and develops over time through regular practice and methodological investigations. Our works have so far taken place at historical places like Monte Verità, Ascona (CH), Steilneset Memorial, Vardø (NO), the Museum of St. Petersburg Avantgarde, St. Petersburg (RU) and at Black Box Teater in Oslo. 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 teater in Oslo, a collective gathering at Monte Verità (CH) and a return to Athens - were we initiated our project in 2017.
Artists and people involved in CoSA project:
Robert Steijn (NL), Dohee Lee (US/KR), Milla Wexels Riiser (NO), Keith Hennessy (US/CA), Geir Hytten (NO), Lisa Jeannin (SE/FR), Rolf Schuurmans (SE/NL), Ingeborg S. Olerud (NO), Fernanda Branco (NO/BS), Ingvild Langgård (NO), Terje Tjøme Mossige (NO), Daniel Slåttnes (NO), Sara Rönnbäck (NO/SE), Pernille Bønkan (NO), Randi Nystrøm (NO), Riika Storck (NO), Anastasia Zakharova (RU), Anastasia Patsey (RU), Julia Adzuki (AU/SE), Kyuja Bae (KR/NO), Ezra Fieremans (BE), Stephanie Maher (US/DE), Liv Kristin Holmberg (NO/DE), Jakob Schnack Krog (DK), Lilach Pnina Livne (IL), Christoph Leuenberger (CH), Raúl Vargas Torres (CO/NO), Daniel Zimmermann (AT), Ekaterina Shelganova (RU), Liza Bobkova (RU), Anastasya Kizilova (RU), Bill Mobech (NO), Kristian Belgau (NO), André Wulf (NO/DE), Fili Olsefski (GR), Rino Engdal (NO), Tanja Thorjussen (NO) and Thale Fastvold (NO).
CoSA project is supported by: Arts Council Norway, KORO (Art in Public Spaces), Black Box teater, Oslo Municipality - Bydel Grünerløkka Grønne Midler, The Audio and Visual Fund, Stikk.no and The Norwegian Institute at Athens
Collaborators and co-producers: Black Box teater, Varanger Museum, Statens vegvesen and National tourist routes, the Museum of St. Petersburg Avantgarde, Foundation Monte Verità, Skajaa Arkitekter, Bollinger + Grohmann v/ Michael Lommertz, Unikum AS, Kvalsund kommune, Vardøhus fortress and Dansefestival Barents
‘Hidden Connections - Visible Ecologies’ - Festival at Black Box teater - June 2021
June 16th-20th 2021 LATERNA will host a 5-day festival at Black Box Theatre in Oslo, where traces from all the works and collaborations in CoSA will culminate into an exhibition dialoguing with art works and performances by other artists. The vertical plant wall will have its 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!! More info coming up soon!!