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Nordic Pavilion: Inauguration

Speech given by H.R.H. The Crown Princess at the Nordic Pavilion Inauguration ceremony at the Venice Biennale 6 May 2015.

ladies and gentlemen,
friends of the arts:

Art is often about ways of seeing. What the eye perceives, determines the relationship between the work of art and the observer. Nevertheless, sometimes art deals more with connections than vision.

The work Rapture by multi-media artist Camille Norment brings together many elements: sculptural, architectonic, performative and sonic. It explores the relationship between sound and the human body. It immerses the visitor in a multi-sensory experience. Through her work, we are asked to consider the impact sound has on our bodies – on our lives. Rapture reminds us that sound is a strong mediator of cultural experience and identity. Sound is a gateway to knowledge and an instrument of power. Sound is a source of pain and joy, and has been used in markedly different ways – in different societies and at different times.

This year, for the first time, Norway is the sole commissioner of the Nordic Pavilion. This coincides with a very diverse and vibrant period in the arts in Norway. Our contemporary arts scene extends from the Arctic north right down to our southernmost coastline. One of its strengths lies in the desire to experiment, combined with the opportunity to do so – in a large number of artist-run spaces all over the country. Many Norwegian artists are creating bridges between different genres. Bringing together visual arts, performance and music to become one expression, is one example. Camille Norment is one of the most inspiring exponents of this practice.

Architecture plays an important part in her project. Her artwork enters into a dialogue with the Pritzker-award-winning architect, Norwegian Sverre Fehn and the Nordic Pavilion from 1962 – which he designed.

Rapture brings to life the hidden sonic potential of this building. It invites us, the visitors, to experience the pavilion as a body. The delicate glass surfaces are brought to life by sound, much like a membrane in a living creature vibrating in response to different frequencies. The unique dialogue between sound, architecture and the human body increases our awareness of sound at a time of growing international interest in this field.

The Nordic Pavilion is in a beautiful setting; the Giardini with its history of more than a hundred years of exhibitions. This history accompanies us as we explore Norment’s project. It is also with us as we view the biennale’s main exhibition – of Okwui Enwezor’s work. Both projects invite us to consider the past, the times we are living in today, and the future that lies ahead. Art seeks to draw connections between the past and the present, to help us imagine the future. This intersection of time, place and being can only be appreciated through our own individual experience.

It is a pleasure to congratulate all of you who has contributed to this extraordinary project, to the commissioners and curators at the Office of Contemporary Art Norway – and first and foremost to the artist herself, Camille Norment.

I hereby declare the Nordic Pavilion open!




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