Norwegian Biennale MOMENTUM 11 Opens (Again) After Scandal
The biennale is hoping audiences will grant them a do-over after the initial launch was marred by the ousting of curator Théo-Mario Coppola.
S-AR's Staircase Pavilion (2021) at MOMENTUM 11. Photo: Eivind Lauritzen.
The exhibition, entitled House of Commons, was supposed to begin even earlier, on 12 June, but it was delayed by a breakdown in the relationship between the biennale and its curator, Théo-Mario Coppola, who was fired on 4 June.
'Coppola's proposal was accepted because the ethical principles at the core of House of Commons, with its emphasis on "togetherness" and "horizontality", are aligned with those of our team, and also to those of wider Norwegian society,' said MOMENTUM's director Dag Aak Sveinar in a statement.
However, he said, 'Coppola's professional conduct has caused irreparable damage to his relationship with our team.'
Coppola is accused of failing to meet the terms of his contract by not delivering key texts including a curatorial statement, work descriptions, and artist biographies.
On 25 June, Coppola wrote an open letter stating that the exhibition was not ready to open, with some works still in development and some placed incorrectly.
The same day, Nordic Art Review wrote that ten of the biennale's 27 artists had signed a petition asking for Coppola to be reinstated.
'HOUSE OF COMMONS is a curatorial project I am the author of and the biennale has no right to continue the project without my agreement or to use the title or my name,' Coppola told Ocula Magazine. 'I am exposed to predation and appropriation by a cultural institution that misunderstands its role in the art world and more broadly in society. An articulate and politically committed project deserves a favourable context. I wish that another institution could host it in the future.'
Coppola said artists Marinella Senatore, Karol Radziszewski, Maria Noujaim, Goutam Ghosh, Cian Dayrit, Camilo Godoy, Délio Jasse, and Nina Canell had expressed that they no longer want to take part in the biennale.
A spokesperson for the biennale said, 'The biennale team has used these past weeks since the soft opening to try to personally speak with each of the artist-practitioners, discuss their concerns and questions about the end of the collaboration with the curator. Most taking part in the exhibition will continue to present their work.'
They confirmed that works by Radziszewski and Senatore were removed from the exhibition, and that Apparatus 22 will not participate. They also said Paul B Preciado withdrew due to health reasons, and a work by Núria Güell could not be produced as planned due to the pandemic.
Works in MOMENTUM 11 can be found in venues across the city of Moss, in the exhibition spaces of Galleri F 15 at Alby gård, and on a circuit on the island of Jeløya.
They include three striking wooden pavilions by Mexican architectural practice S-AR to house projects and performances, and Filipino artist Cian Dayrit's Tree of Life in the state of decay and rebirth (2019), an embroidery on textile work that seeks to communicate the roots and fruits of systemic historical oppression.
The other artists that can be seen at the biennale are: Pia Arke, Augusto de Campos, Nina Canell, Goutam Ghosh, Camilo Godoy, Renée Green, Siri Hermansen, Délio Jasse, Daisuke Kosugi, Kollektivnye Deystviya, Maria Nordman, Maria Noujaim, Uriel Orlow, Frida Orupabo, Hannah Ryggen, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Trinh T. Minh-ha.
Charlemagne Palestine will also perform a musical piece on the ferry from Moss to Jeløya in late summer or early fall. —[O]