The Mountain Body is an interdisciplinary art and research project based on geological formations that connect all life and non-life on our planet and in the universe, and in which the mountain becomes the focus for various imaginaries. The project explores re-articulations of entangled relationships of body, nature and culture, taking into account
The current climate and environmental challenges, and is based in local contexts. The Mountain Body centers around a series of choreographic and sculptural interventions with, by and in various mountain sites in the world, which together form a new ‘mountain range’.
The project is inspired by the late mountain climber and philosopher Arne Næss’ perspective on the mountain, and his many stays in the mountains, which contributed to his (and his colleagues) radical philosophy from the 1970s, Deep Ecology. A philosophy that calls for a radical shift in human – nature – culture relationships.
The Mountain Body originates from Nodes on rocks and other social landscapes (2017), curated by Høstscena, Jugendstilsenteret and KUBE. The project included various choreographies of a performative and sculptural character over four days, in nature and in the city, and was created with the participation of several local artists and partners in and around Ålesund (Norway). Its development was informed by regular conversations between Helle Siljeholm and landscape painter Ørnulf Opdahl, related to alternative perspectives on landscape, nature and culture.
A central part of the work was a choreography developed for six climbers from Ålesund Climbing Club, executed on a mountain hillside. The composition of the choreography was based on everyday movements such as walking, sitting, standing and sleeping, and manifested itself in different variations and patterns, creating horizontal and vertical ‘journeys’ in the mountainside. The traces of these positions and journeys were marked with natural and environmentally-friendly pigment by the climbers. The temporary imprint of this choreographic structure remained as a gigantic, temporary ‘rune painting’ that could be viewed from the sea, tourist paths and from airplanes approaching Alesund. The performance alternated between the meditative, contemplative and spectacular. The physical and practical encounter of body, mountain and structure pointed to historical and contemporary relationships of bodies, nature and culture, being colonial and occupational, as well as vulnerable and in need of protection. The ‘painting’ was to be washed away by nature itself, a natural consequence of weather and wind. After about two months, it had disappeared from the mountain.
«Naturen er kulturens hjem» (Nature is the home of culture)
– Nils Faarlund (friend and colleague of Næss, founder of friluftsliv as an academic discipline)
In The Mountain Body, the aim is to reduce, or rid ourselves, of an anthropocentric gaze orienting towards the mountain, and to listen, experience and learn, with mountain matter such as (such as (star)dust, minerals, rocks and mountain ontology as a starting point. Mountains form the context for investigations of complex relationships between body, nature and culture. These meetings with various mountain sites, (human and non- human) species and communities established on, in or by mountains will help articulate different mountain imaginaries. These will inform the choreographies as well as audiovisual works, talks, seminars and essays.
The project is created by visual artist and choreographer Helle Siljeholm, and will be developed with a range of artists, academics, climbers, partners and diverse communities in and around mountains over the coming years.
Artistic Director (concept, choreography, installation)
Helle Siljeholm is a choreographer, performer and visual artist, based in Oslo. She holds a BA (hons) from London Contemporary Dance School in 2003. In 2016 she graduated with an MA in Visual Arts from the Oslo Academy of Art (KHiO). Her artistic practice involves film, installation, choreography and performance. More on: www.hellesiljeholm.com
Guro Vrålstad is a producer and project manager based in Oslo with a special focus on cross-disciplinary contemporary art projects. She currently works for Susie Wang and Helle Siljeholm. From 2011 she has worked on various art projects, often with geographical emphasis on the Far North, such as Dark Ecology and the annual arts festival Barents Spektakel.
Annette Wolfsberger is a producer based in Amsterdam facilitating collaborative interdisciplinary arts projects that relate to technology, society and the environment. She was producer of The Kelp Congress for LIAF – Lofoten International Arts Festival, Sonic Acts and Dark Ecology and has managed and co-curated various international artistic exchange and residency programmes, a.o. for Trans Europe Halles and the Netherlands Media Arts Institute. More on: aaaan.net
Hilde Methi is a curator based in Kirkenes, Norway. She builds up long-term collaborative projects infusing artistic ideas in local contexts. Recently she co-curated Hábmet hámi, Lofoten International Art Festival-LIAF 2019 including the Kelp Congress, and Dark Ecology (2014-2016) – a series of temporary site-responsive works in the Norwegian-Russian border area.
Theatre scholar and dramaturg
Kai Johnsen is a director and a dramaturg, and currently professor in directing at The Academy of Theatre at Oslo National College for the Arts. He was educated at The National Academy of Theatre and The University of Oslo. He is considered to be one of Norway’s leading figures in the development of essayistic and innovative scenic arts, and has directed more than 60 performances on leading Norwegian and foreign stages, in a variety of genres and often in collaboration with leading contemporary writers.
Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay is Associate Professor in Global Culture Studies at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, Norway. He is Principal Investigator of the European Research Council project ‘CoFutures: Pathways to Possible Presents’ and the Norwegian Research Council project ‘Science Fictionality’. More on: http://cofutures.org
Performer and climber
Pernille Holden works as an artist within the field of dance and choreography. Collectivity, sensuousness and musicality are driving forces in her artistic practice. Holden has collaborated with a wide range of choreographers and performing artists. Holden is educated at The School of Contemporary Dance in Oslo.
Performer and climber
Marianne Kjærsund is a freelance contemporary dancer. She has worked as a performer and teacher all across Scandinavia, and collaborated with a wide variety of performing artists. Kjærsund has also been an assistant to theatre director Kjersti Horn at The National Theatre and Riksteatretet, and director Birgitte Strid at Nordland Theatre.
Performer and climber
Mads Gausdal is a System Integration Manager, and an Alpine climber based in Ålesund. While his professional life focuses on putting chaos into systems, his private life focuses on exploring our world through mountains, the never-ending chase for the perfect crack-line. His favourite place to be is Molladalen.
Performer and climber
Henrik Burvang is based in Ålesund and has a mechanical engineering, science system and product design background. He works for the Coastal Administration on climate and environmental aspects within sea transport. Outdoor enthusiast with broad experience from both steep and flat outdoor life, steep skiing and freeriding on snowboards and climbing in particular. He has competed nationally and internationally as a snowboarder, and has established a dozen new climbing routes in the high mountains at home and abroad, as well as arranged expeditions to inaccessible and demanding areas. Henrik is a member of the Norwegian Peak Club.
Istvan Virag´s artistic practice concerns the social and economic aspects of globalisation, development and mobility – and the impact of these on the personal, private sphere of human life. His latest works explore post-growth theories and interferences between themes such as urban development, architecture, biopolitics and the “myth” of limitless economic growth. Virag received his BFA from the Academy of Fine Art at the Oslo Academy of the Arts in 2016. (www.istvanvirag.com)
Ørnulf Opdahl is an internationally renown Norwegian painter and educator based in Ålesund. He is represented in several art collections, including the National Gallery of Norway, the British Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary art in Oslo, Bergen Art Museum and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. He was appointed professor at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts from 1985 to 1992.
Silje Opdahl Mathisen is a collection manager at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. She has a master´s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and holds a Ph. D on contemporary exhibitions of Sámi culture and history (2014). Her research interests revolve around archaeology, museology in general the history of archaeological and ethnographical collections and exhibitions.
The Mountain Body
c/o Helle Siljeholm
Westye Egebergs gate 3A