The Nordic Pavilion in La Biennale di Venezia 2015

Rapture
Inside the Nordic Pavilion, ‘Rapture’ explores the visceral relationship between the human body and sound, through the visual, the sonic, and the architectural body of the pavilion, in a sensory experience that is both physical and mental. For the installation the American-born, Oslo-based artist Camille Norment works with the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin that creates ethereal music from glass and water - and a chorus of female voices. Weaving these elements together with the resonances of the pavilion itself, Norment develops a new composition based on the unresolved notes of the much censored “devils´s” tritone that correspond to the notes of the glass armonica and creates an immersive, multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice.

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation view of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation view of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Installation shot of Camille Norment's 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion within the 56th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: OCA / Matteo De Fina

Camille Norment playing the glass armonica. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

The Camille Norment Trio
The Camille Norment Trio consist of the glass armonica, played by Norment; the Hardanger fiddle, played by Vegar Vårdal; and the electric guitar, played by Håvard Skaset. Each of these instruments was thought, at various points in history, to invoke a socially and sexually transgressive experience in the body, especially the female body, and subsequently banned.

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by the Camille Norment Trio at the official inauguration day of 'Rapture' in the Nordic Pavilion on 6 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

Camille Norment and David Toop
On 8 May 2015 Camille Norment and David Toop presented an abstracted ‘performance lecture’, encompassing text, the voice and sound, in relation to vibration, the body and hysteria. Hysteria, long deemed a female disease, extended to
‘an epidemic of male hysteria’ with the effects of shell shock during WWI and continues to be pertinent in post-war syndromes today as well as in other instances of socially and culturally induced forms of collective-hysteria. The performance also drew from American poet Sara Teasdale's poem ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’, written after WW1 and reflecting upon the resilience of nature to outlive the catastrophic exploits of humanity.

From the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 8 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 8 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 8 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 8 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

From the performance by Camille Norment and David Toop in the Nordic Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia on 8 May 2015. Photo: OCA / Marta Buso

Credits: Story

Presented by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), ‘Rapture’ is Norway’s contribution to the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. In 2015 Norway is solely responsible for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for the first time in its history. For this unprecedented occasion, OCA commissioned artist Camille Norment (b. 1970) to develop the project.

Norment’s ‘Rapture’ is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water. Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill through over-exciting its listeners.

In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music raises today by creating a multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice. The artist composes a chorus of voices that correspond to the unresolved notes of the much censored “devils’s” tritone and of the glass armonica, and this chorus immerses visitors to ‘Rapture’.

‘Rapture’ explores the relationship between the human body and sound, through visual, sonic, sculptural and architectural stimuli. Today the sonic realm can be both a space of misuse, as we have seen in the militaristic use of sound to abuse the body, and of affirmation, as in the performative utterance of free speech to affirm the right of the body’s very existence. The body can be stimulated and moved by sound, and in Norment’s work, the Nordic Pavilion itself becomes a body in rapture and rupture, consonance and dissonance.

Camille Norment comments: ‘Sound, by its nature, permeates borders – even invisible ones. Throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centraliser of control. Recognised as capable of inducing states akin to sex and drugs, music is still seen by many in the world as an experience that should be controlled – especially in relation to the female body – and yet it is also increasingly used as a tool for control, especially under the justifications of war.’

Katya Garcia-Anton, Director of OCA, Norway and Curator of the Nordic Pavilion comments: ‘We have commissioned Camille Norment to represent Norway at the Nordic Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2015 because she is one of the most innovative, cross-disciplinary artists working in Norway today. Her work is both poetic and physical, and considers sound as an evocative artistic medium. Norment is an American-born artist, who has chosen for over a decade to live and work in Oslo, which reflects the stimulating environment for experimental contemporary art and culture in the Norwegian capital and around the country. We wish to celebrate this on the occasion of Norway's first ever Nordic Pavilion.’

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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