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Open today 11-22 (Restaurant 11-22)

JA as long as I can

Performance and artist talk with A K Dolven
Wednesday 24.11.21
AK Dolven J Aaslongas Ican Performanceat Rio Cinema Dalston 8500kb

In collaboration with Cinemateket in Oslo and OSL contemporary, we present JA as long as I can - a transatlantic dialogue and duet with A K Dolven and John Giorno as performers. It has earlier been performed at, among others, Rio Cinema in London, Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Hebbel-Theater in Berlin.

The performance (22 min) will be followed by a conversation in English between A K Dolven and curator and broadcaster Gaby Hartel.

TitleJA as long as I can
TypeSound installation on vinyl
VoicesJohn Giorno and A K Dolven
CuratorGaby Hartel
Duration22 min
ProducedNew York 2011/Edition Block

Gaby Hartel on the performance

JA as long as I can is a transatlantic dialogue, a duet with A K Dolven and John Giorno as performers. Both utter and vary the word «ja», the Norwegian equivalent of «yes», for as long as their energy spans to give the word different shades of colour, of energy and meaning.

John Giorno (1936-2019) was an American poet and performance artist. He founded the not-for-profit production company Giorno Poetry Systems and organized a number of early multimedia poetry experiments and events, including Dial-A-Poem. He became prominent as the subject of Andy Warhol’s film Sleep (1963) and as a poet performing internationally. Giorno and Dolven did meet in Lofoten, Norway, summer 2011.

The work is an exploration into the quality of sound as a potent signifier of many things at the same time: of corporeal and temporal presence, of emotional as well as informational meaning, of the acute experience of spatial presence and absence, of harmony or dissent amongst human beings, as well as of the passage of time.

A K Dolven’s sound piece also invites reflection on the different ways to experience time and to think about time: different time levels are being explored here alongside with a reflection of how psychological processes structure time: exhaustion and fatigue, impatience, the will of expression, of filling and structuring the flow of air, of struggling for air.

As an artistic endeavour, JA as long as I can is also a study of the human voice as the oldest instrument and medium of mankind. Dolven’s sound piece poignantly shows that the human voice is, at the same time, markedly physical and highly ephemeral. Here sound literally travels in time and space: from Norway to the East coast of the USA, from a female European visual artist in her fifties to a male, North American spoken word artist in his seventies. Both performers stand for their respective cultural time, and both their voices are consequently tinged by time, by their differing gender, their respective upbringing, by a varying life experience as well as by their emotional proximity or distance to the Norwegian language.

In Dolven’s use of the single affirmative word «ja», she explores the material qualities of the male and the female vocal cords in motion, and the many different emotional hues these qualities can transmit to the listener. In letting these two unseen bodies physically interact with each other to the rhythm of the different lengths of breath it takes to utter the word «ja» with varying expressions, A K Dolven provokes the perceptual effect of watching movements of two shadows. This is, of course, reminiscent of her film work vertical on my own (2011).

But there are many other ways, in which this work binds together themes that A K Dolven has been developing over a long period of time: the formal, material, perceptual and emotional effects of artistic expression bordering on the immaterial, the unseen. Here, «soft» forms of expression are applied, such as bright and soft light, hazy whites, shadows, ambient sound, the sound of the human voice, movement, atmosphere, as well as the energies triggered by the interaction of humans with each other – be it in conversation, movement or, generally, in the manifestations of friendship. Dolven’s art has also been for a long time «performative», «participatory» and «site-specific» in a broader, more abstract and subtler sense of the word than it is mostly used in the art world.

About the artists

A K Dolven (b. 1953) lives and works in Oslo and Lofoten, Norway. Dolven’s practice involves a variety of media; painting, photography, performance, installation, film and sound. Recurring themes in her production are the representation of natural forces and their resonance with human sensibilities. Her work alternates between the monumental and the minimal, the universal and the intimate. Interpersonal relations and interactions are central to her practice, and many of her performance-based works involve collaborations with other people.

A K Dolven has exhibited extensively internationally at a wide range of institutions and galleries including: Kunsthalle Bern; Philadephia Museum of Art; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; IKON Gallery, Birmingham; Platform China, Beijing; The National Museum of Art, Oslo; KIASMA, Helsinki; CCC Tours, France and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

John Giorno (1936-2019) was an American visual artist and poet. He starred in Andy Warhol's film Sleep, but was best known for his efforts to bring poetry into the modern age. He was one of the artists in the group exhibition Seeable/Sayable at Kunstnernes Hus in 2016.

Dr. Gaby Hartel (b. 1961) is a curator, translator and award-winning broadcaster based in Berlin. She has published widely in the fields of media, literature and contemporary art, with a special focus on sound art. Gaby teaches sound art and sound theory at Arts University Linz, Austria, and she will be curating the German version of John Giorno’s 1968 telephone art work DIAL-A-POEM.

See also