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Nordic Outbreak Symposium

The Nordic Outbreak Symposium took place in New York City on April 6, 2013. It presented a program of artists, curators and theorists for a full day of presentations and discussion at Scandinavia House, kicked off by a keynote by UCLA Professor, theorist and curator Erkki Huhtamo.

Keynote by Erkki Huhtamo


Symposium Program


Scandinavia House 58 Park Avenue at 38th Street 9-10 AM: REGISTRATION, coffee and croissant bar 10:00 AM: Welcome by Nina Colosi 10:10 AM: Intro to Nordic Outbreak by Tanya Toft 10:20 AM: Keynote: Erkki Huhtamo 11:10 AM: Coffee 11:40 AM: Screening - Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Fishermen (Études no 1) (2010) 11:50 AM Presentations: Kati Kivinen, Birta Gudjonsdottir, Marit Paasche 12:40 AM: Panel, moderated by Margret-Elisabet Olafsdottir 1:25 PM: Lunch 2:25 PM: Screening – Una Lorenzen, In the Crack of the Land (2010) 2:35 PM: Artist presentation: Vibeke Jensen 3:00 PM: Artist presentation: Egill Sæbjornsson 3:30 PM: Coffee 3:50 PM: Screening - Jesper Just, Llano (2012) 4:00 PM Presentations: Daniela Arriado, Minna Tarkka, Jacob Lillemose 4:50 PM: Panel, moderated by Jonatan Habib Engqvist 5:30 PM: Artist presentation: Superflex

Watch the full symposium below


About the Nordic Outbreak Symposium

APRIL 6, 2013 The symposium examined contemporary aesthetics in Nordic moving image and new modes of exhibition in public space. Based on specific artistic practices and experiences in the Nordic context, artists, curators and theorists presented individual perspectives that addressed ‘outbreaks’ in moving image in the digital age – an outbreak from conventional aesthetic regimes; from white cube exhibition schemes; and from fixed interpretations of works that now travel across local contexts in digital structures and contribute to a global dialogue.

The presenters included: Erkki Huhtamo (keynote speaker), Daniela Arriado (Screen City Festival), Birta Gudjonsdottir (curator and artist), Kati Kivinen (curator at the KIASMA), Marit Paasche (Head of research, The Norwegian Video Art Archive), Minna Tarkka (curator, M-Cult), Vibeke Jensen (artist and architect), Jacob Lillemose (Curator, Transmediale), Superflex (artist group), Egill Sæbjornsson (artist), Margret Elisabeth Olafsdottir (Independent researcher on media art at Reykjavik Academy).

The digital age has infused the art world and stimulated a situation of increased internationalization and departure from conventional notions of artistic practice and curatorial methods. The Nordic Outbreak symposium shedded light on contemporary dynamics in the Nordic art scene(s) for moving image in the light of how these artworks respond to the digital age. How do the issues and themes conveyed in the moving image respond to current issues and conditions in Nordic societies, and in which ways do they reflect international realities and conditions in the digital age? What are the myths that are being confronted in these art works, and how does the artist or curator consider them their contemporary significance?

The symposium focused on examples of artworks included in the Nordic Outbreak program, which were selected for exhibition in public space with attention to the visual noise and audience conditions that characterize urban environments. The artworks were considered in terms of how they responded to different urban installation contexts, with attention to the dialogue created in the meeting between the work and the specific urban context. In this perspective the artwork is not considered as “belonging” to one site, but it enters a global dialogue in an interconnected, digital age, as moving images that engage with various situations in the contemporary city.

The contemporary explosion of media facades – urban screens, architectural walls, mobile displays –  and the role of moving image on these exhibition displays, as an alternative to the white cube was also a topic of discussion. The symposium was part of the larger Nordic Outbreak, a traveling exhibition of moving image curated for public space and accompanying public programs, which look at curatorial schemes and the impact of showing moving image in public space contexts. It is also part of the research conducted by Tanya Toft, Ph.D. Fellow at Copenhagen University and Associate Curator of Streaming Museum, looking at the theory and discourses of curating digital media art in urban contexts in order to gain a more differentiated understanding of these urban-technological developments in curatorial culture.


Pre-symposium lecture

APRIL 4 NYU Tisch School of the Arts 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 674 3-5 PM Jonatan Habib Engqvist Curator/Theorist

Nordic Outbreak – A Nordic History of Moving Images. And Things.

The widespread international exchange over the last few decades naturally means that the question of Nordic identity, if there ever was one, is highly problematic. Looking at a specific regional history, one can however find overlooked albeit essential people and phenomena within the development of a certain media. By presenting some stories, anecdotes and myths from the Nordic region stemming from early modernity and the 1960´s, this talk will explore various connections between these stories, the weather, the current scene in the region, and to New York. The presentation will on one hand contemplate a history of moving things and images related to visual art in the Nordic context, and on the other hand propose a take on the ”Nordic Thing” through a speculative account of how this projection might relate to moving images in and from the Nordic countries.


Jonatan Habib Engqvist is a theorist and curator based in Stockholm. He has previously worked at Södertörn University (2004-07), the Royal Institute (2006 -09), as curator at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2008 -09), and project manager at the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s international exchange program for visual art, Iaspis (2009 -). Engqvist is also editor in mischief at and producer of international programs and exhibitions. Has written for and edited journals like Ars Hypermedia, Glänta, Ord&Bild, Motiv, Input and Divan. Co-editor of books like: Work, Work, Work – A Reader on Art and Labour (Iaspis/Steinberg Press, 2012) and Dharavi: Documenting Informalities (The Royal Institute, Stockholm 2008 & Academic Foundation, New Dehli 2009). Recent free-lance projects have included: (I)ndependent People, The Reykjavik Arts Festival 2012, The Nordic Third World Country? – Icelandic Art in Times of Crises at Färgfabriken, Stockholm and Färgfabriken Norr, Östersund (2010 -11) and Informal Cities at the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay (2009).

Watch the pre-symposium lecture with Jonatan Habib Engqvist below


Speakers and Writers


Professor of Media History and Theory, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Here, There, and Everywhere:

Toward Glocal Media Archaeology

Erkki Huhtamo is Professor of Media History and Theory at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Design | Media Arts. Professor Huhtamo holds a PhD in Cultural History. He has published extensively on media archaeology and the media arts. Media archaeology is an emerging approach he has pioneered since the early 1990s. It excavates forgotten, neglected and suppressed media-cultural phenomena, helping us to penetrate beyond canonized accounts about media culture. Professor Huhtamo has applied this approach to phenomena like peep media, stereoscopy, the notion of the screen, electronic games and mobile media. Professor Huhtamo’s most recent books are a monograph titled Illusions in Motion:  Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles (The MIT Press, 2012), and Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications and Implications (edited with Dr. Jussi Parikka, University California Press, 2011).


Marit Paasche Head of research, The Norwegian Video Art Archive

Marit Paasche is an art historian and Associate Professor of Art Theory, associated with the Oslo Academy of Fine Art and head of research at the Norwegian Video Art Archive. She also works as an art critic, curator and writer. Her field of specialty is American and European contemporary art, with a particular focus on video art and experimental film by artists like Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Gunvor Nelson, Hito Steyerl, Jonas Mekas and Rosalind Nashashibi. She has curated exhibitions like The Human Pattern at Kunsthall Oslo (with Will Bradley in 2011), Deadlock Exhibitedwith Tone Hansen and Anna S. Gudmundsdottir at Kunsthall Exnergasse, Vienna (2008), and The Society of Mind, National Museum of Art, Oslo (2005). Paasche has been an editor of several books, including A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law, and Aesthetics (Sternberg Press, 2011), Urban Images: Unruly Desires in Film and Architecture(Sternberg Press 2011) and An Eye For Time. Video Art and Reality (Pax, 2004). Currently, she is preparing a major exhibition at Henie Onstad Art Center called We Are Living On a Star (2014). Paasche is also working on a book on Hannah Ryggen with the preliminary title From All Sides of the Square(2012/2013).


Minna Tarkka Curator, Director m-cult centre for new media culture, Helsinki Finland

Minna Tarkka is a curator and producer of digital media and art, and director of m-cult, centre for new media culture in Helsinki. She has been involved in building Finnish media art and culture since late 80′s, as founding member of the artist organizations Muu and AV-arkki and as professor at the Media Lab Helsinki, University of Art and Design where she headed the MA in New Media programme 1996-2001. She has brought two international symposia of electronic art to Helsinki, as programme director of ISEA’94 and as m-cult director during ISEA2004. Since 2010, she has curated urban media art in context of the European Media Facades and Connecting Cities networks. Her key interests are in participatory media and open source culture on which she has directed several projects at m-cult.


Vibeke Jensen Artist

Vibeke Jensen is a Norwegian artist with a particular interest in the psychogeographic mapping of the urban scene, and its deconstruction and reconfiguration within the space of digital information. In particular, Jensen has investigated the practice of surveillance, recognizing this as a central structural element of advanced urban cultures. She constructs situations, images and sculptures that provoke a rupture in daily life perception. Jensen works internationally and has shown in galleries and museums in New York, Beijing, London, Vienna, Bogotá, Mexico City and Norway. Her urban interventions have been realized in Shanghai, New York, Oslo, Trondheim and Graz, and she is the winner of international residencies and competitions. Jensen lectures and presents her work at art institutions and conferences, and is currently a visiting professor at the Bergen School of Architecture.


Superflex Artist group

Superflex is a Danish artists’ group founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen. Superflex describe their projects as Tools, as proposals that invite people to participate in and communicate the development of experimental models that alter the economic production conditions. Often the projects are assisted by experts who bring in their special interest, these tools can then be further used and modified by their users. Often their projects are related to economic forces, democratic production conditions and self-organization. Superflex has gained international recognition for their projects. They have had solo exhibitions, among others, at the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland (Supershow — more than a show), GFZK in Leipzig, Germany (Social Pudding in collaboration with Rirkrit Tiravanija), Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main (Open market), the REDCAT Gallery in Los Angeles (Guarana Power), Mori Museum in Tokyo, Gallery 1301PE in Los Angeles and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Superflex has participated in international arts biennials such as the Gwangju biennial in Korea, Istanbul Biennial, São Paulo Biennial, Shanghai Biennial and in the “Utopia Station” exhibition at the Venice Biennale. They contributed to the exhibition Rethink Kakotopia shown at the Nikolaj Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen 2009 and at Tensta Konsthall 2010.


Egill Sæbjörnsson Artist

Born 1973 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Lives in Reykjavik, IS,Berlin, DE. Egill Sæbjörnsson graduated from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (now the Icelandic Academy of the Arts) in 1997 and studied at the University of Paris, St.Denis, from 1995 to 1996. Egill Sæbjörnsson’s work is an approach to experience, a mode of behaviour, a play. creates arrangements that cannot be described as mere “installations”. They are all at once performance set, sculptural accumulations and three-dimensional drawings. Music plays a vital part in his art projects, and he is a musician as much as a visual artist. With an artistic background in drawing and painting, Sæbjörnsson has always been fascinated by video and animation, and his current work can be seen as a (techno)logical continuation of painting. Some of his works incorporate music and projections with everyday objects, in a way that is both comical and poetic. Other works feature complete stage sets and performances, with cut-out figures that talk and sing and interact with commonplace objects or with the artist himself, all with strong references to both contemporary society and cultural and art history.


Margret Elisabeth Olafsdottir Independent researcher on media art at Reykjavik Academy

Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir (1965) is an independent writer and researcher at Reykjavik Academy (2012-). She holds a PhD in Arts and science de l’art from the University of Paris 1 Sorbonne-Pantheon (2013). Margrét taught Media Art Histories at the Iceland Academy of the Arts (2002-2011) and Modern and Contemporary Art in France at the University of Iceland (2005-2009) were she’s also taught courses in translation. She’s worked as an art critic for Icelandic National Broadcasting Services (2009-2011) and as a journalist, freelance writer, lecturer and editor (since 1987). She is a coordinator of Pikslaverk festival of electronic arts (since 2008) and co-curated Perspectives: on the convergences of art and philosophy at the Reykjavik Art Museum (2011). Margrét is a co-founder of Lorna, Association for Electronics Arts (2002), and Lorna Lab, a cross-disciplinary platform of art, science and technology (2010).


Birta Gudjonsdottir Curator and Artist

Birta Gudjonsdottir is an artist and independent curator residing in Reykjavik and Berlin. She holds an MA-degree of Fine Arts from Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. Birta was a director of The Living Art Museum in 2009-2011. In 2008-2009 she was an artistic director of art space 101 Projects,Reykjavik. In 2008 she was a curator´s assistant at MuHKA; Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. In 2007 she participated in the Nordic Baltic Curatorial Platformorganized by FRAME in Finland. In 2005-2008 she was a curator at SAFN, Private Contemporary Art Collection, Reykjavik.  Birta has curated exhibitions in Copenhagen, Kaunas, Oslo, Melbourne, New York, St. Petersburg and numerous art museums and art spaces in Iceland. In 2011 she participated in the Curatorial Intensive at ICI; Independent Curators International, New York, and The Cornwall Workshop, organized by Teresa Gleadowe andTate St. Ives. Since 2002 she has produced art space Dwarf Gallery in Reykjavik.


Daniela Arriado Curator/Producer Art & New Media

Daniela Arriado (b.1982, Chile) works as independent curator and producer of Art & New Media. She is educated within Aesthetics and Art History, and dedicated to the practice of moving image and public space. Her research focuses on art and city development, and the relationship between interaction, new media and public space.  She is an ambassador for PNEK – production network for electronic arts in Norway, and Director of Screen City – festival for moving image. Based in Berlin and Stavanger


Jacob Lillemose Curator and Writer

Curator of the Transmediale exhibition since 2011 with the exhibitions “Dark Drives. Uneasy Energies in Technological Times,” (2012), and “Tools of Distorted Creativity”, “Imaging with Machine Processes. The Generative Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan,” and “Evil Media Distribution Center” (2013). Has curated (with Inke Arns) the travelling retrospective of the web server (2006-2012). Member of the Copenhagen-based collective Artnode, with which he edited the publication We Love Your Computer. An Anthology on Net Art (2008), containing 36 seminal texts on net art. Has written extensively on art, society, and information technology, including texts on artists such as Cornelia Sollfrank, UBERMORGEN, Daniel Garcia Andujar/Technologies to the People, and David Lamelas. Holds a PhD from the University of Copenhagen with the dissertation “Art as Information Tool. Critical Engagement with Software Culture” (2010), which discusses contemporary software art in the context of the legacy of concpetual art. Regular contributor to kunstkritikk and frieze.


Kati Kivinen Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki

Kati Kivinen has worked as curator for temporary exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA since 2003. For 2013 she’s co-curating a solo exhibition by Finnish artist and film maker Mika Taanila. During the year 2010 Kivinen served as the Artistic Director of AV-arkki, the Distribution Centre for Finnish Media Art. Before, she has worked as coordinator for the Finnish Fund for Art Exchange FRAME. Her freelance co-curatorial projects include a.o. exhibition Don’t Worry – Be Curious! The 4th Ars Baltica Triennial of Photographic Art (2007-2008). Since 2011 Kivinen is board member of the IKT – International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (2011-2014), and also board’s consultant member for the HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme. Kivinen received her MA in Art History from the University of Helsinki in 2000, where she’s completing her doctoral research project on 1990′s and early 21st century moving image installations in Finland.


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