Documenting Unfamiliarity

Returning for the ninth edition, the Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art 2017 presents MOMENTUM 9: Alienation, which exemplifies an exploration of estrangement in current society. Whilst the ever-growing ease of communication makes the world around us appear less infinite, modern progression simultaneously fosters a shared feeling of confusion and isolation. M9 addresses these emotions, interrogating the technological, ecological and social transformations that work to enhance our environments. Pioneering for a more informed understanding of the human condition, the title theme aims to make sense of the foreign processes which are increasingly becoming integrated into our daily lives. Through a variety of forms and disciplines, the featured artists have explored alienation as a condition of contemporary life, unbound by former constraints.

The diverse works encourage audiences to welcome the unknown and abandon preconceptions of the familiar as well as the foreign in the hopes of forging a more extraordinary future. Presenting conflicted ways of experiencing and perceiving our daily domains, the conceptual basis for the show positions the alien as a catalyst for expanding the horizons of modern life. Featured artists consider this within three interconnected areas: Bodies, Objects and Technologies; Ecology; and Structures and Societies. In doing so, the pieces engage with each other through multiple shared concerns: cultural and geographical, as well as social and political. Resonating aptly with the location of Moss, Norway the Biennial instigates discussions which represent the local on a significant, global scale.

Exhibiting at Galleri F 15, Moss, is Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965) whose hyper-realistic creations evoke both fascination and repulsion through the manipulation of bodily forms. The provocative Australian artist, noted for her controversial sculptures, blatantly questions the ethics of genetic engineering and cloning through the application of silicone and human hair. Atlas is characteristic of this style and emulates flesh in a manner that is simultaneously alluring and grotesque. Deliberately manipulating the viewer, Piccinini reforms fantasy creatures, carefully balancing feelings of rejection with an overriding sense of empathy.

Utilising familiar forms, John Kvie (b. 1970) is fascinated by the human condition and the infinite complexity of the universe, often using his practice to make sense of intangible phenomena. The Norwegian sculptor creates works which allude to the abstract sphere of outer space and, yet, are grounded in the physical, concrete world through the use of materials such as marble and bronze. Untitled (Carrier) depicts a kneeling astronaut, exuding a sense of powerlessness through the contradiction of its static, weighty form.

Portraying a similarly alien impression, Jussi Kivi (b. 1959) presents Moon Woods created from nocturnal scenery inspired by expeditions in Northern European wilderness. Combining synthetic and natural materials, the acclaimed Finnish artist contemplates the decline of our ecology in the hopes of inspiring a sustainable future. Responding to the key premise of the Biennial, Kivi studies the concept of solastalgia: the condition caused by climate change in which one experiences an existential separation from their immediate surroundings.

MOMENTUM 9: Alienation runs from 17 June to 11 October across sites in Moss, Norway. Find out more:

1. JUSSI KIVI, Moonwoods, 2017. Detail of an installation. Courtesy the artist