| EXHIBITION HALL |
"The Anti-Terror Tour"
04.09. - 25.10.2020
Opening Friday September 4th, 14:00 - 20:00
Åpningstale av Reda Foad Bader Al-Shemmari, 20 år, og leder av Grorud AUF. Han er muslim, født og oppvokst i Norge. Forfatter av artikkelen ‘SIAN-lederen og en imam bør ta en kaffe sammen’ (Aftenposten 28. november 2019). Åpningstale avspilles på skjerm gjennom hele åpningsdagen.
Curated by Malin Barth og Gitte Sætre
For Kunsthall 3,14 the proposal within The Anti-Terror Tour given by the artist Peter Voss-Knude is highly relevant. After a self-guided tour of the exhibition, we are left with a sence of radical notion; If we as nations and individuals decide to replace imperialism with collaboration, replace hate with love and fear with trust, we would achieve exactly what NATO and all intelligence services around the world say they are trying to achieve: Provide security, safety and protection for its nation. One of the attributes connected to the large Rose Quartz crystal, placed outside the entrance to the gallery, it is imbued with a sense of safety. And points to a question if we were to accept harmony, would we live in greater safety?
The 1.1 ton Rose Quartz Terror Barricade (2019) introduces this notion subtely but still with a strong physical presence. Its otherworldly presence is massive. It invites people to touch it as they pass by. This particular stone is said to be communicating the secrets of universal love through vibrations. Quartz was also used by the US army in their manufacture of US military radios as seen in the video Crystals go to War from 1943. The movie make us speculate where fantasy meets reality in situations of conflict?
Voss-Knude is inspired by the political theorist Chantal Mouffe's proposal that democracy is built on a constant flux of agnostic negotiation rather than stasis and agreement. The Anti-Terror Tour is a traveling exhibition that explores how we prepare for conflict. The exhibition encourages us to rethink the existing logic of territorial defense politics. The norm still is to reproduce stereotypes of ethnic profiling and fighting terrorist attacks with walls and weapons. We could instead choose to lessen social gaps and build safety based on inclusion and diversity. Furthermore, if we were tuned to the earth's ecosystems, we would create a much safer world.
When entering the exhibition hall you are met by a glass crown; A State of Readiness (2020); in which blue, electric lightning bolts crawl around its insides. As if light rays are searching for a way out. As the visitor approaches, the electric rays within the artwork bend towards them. Seeking to connect to the spectator’s skin. The gallery walls are filled with a series of drawings of Easter eggs with dissolved figures of bats. Painted with a series of Primatek watercolors made from pure semi-precious minerals. Mined from the crust of the earth with amethysts and rhodonite. The range and nuances blend in colors that correlate to a spectre of environments beyond human civilization. Adding to historical portrayals of evil and horror, the bat has become the scapegoat of the current pandemic. Even in our age it has become a symbol of humanity's need to project evil onto something other than ourselves and our neoliberal, globalized profit-driven economy.
Morals and social justice are discussed in Voss-Knude exhibition The Anti-Terror Tour. In this project he leaks from, and takes a critical stand against, a literary phenomenon called KRISØV-17. It is a piece of speculative fiction utilized for national terror exercises and produced by the Danish Emergency Management Agency. In the storyline, all potential terrorists are described solely as Muslim or ‘dark-skinned’. A shopkeeper is the mastermind of the terror cell. Why is he described in erotic terms? A translated excerpt: A drop of water ran down his skin, andsliding down his muscular upper body and along his shaved cock, before falling to the wooden floor leaving a small wet mark that quickly vanished in the hot sun.
The author behind this narrative explained to Voss-Knude, that this plot was inspired by the American Netflix series Homeland. A series widely criticized for its islamophobia. After the exercise was over, the narrative was turned into an erotic crime thriller published privately by the writer. However bizarre this sounds; the main problem is that such texts pass as valid descriptions of who our enemies are and what we should fear. Would we have been better prepared for other crisis’, had our imagination not been based on sexualized, colonial, and market-driven fantasies?
Voss-Knude is not only criticizing stereotypes, but he also points to the fact that this extremely powerful institutional voice from Danish intelligence, paints its scenarios based on pop culture and entertainment. The storyline functions as a tool for reaffirming a white, western and heterosexually patriarchal worldview. Acts of terrorism performed by white, right-wing nationals have created some of the most disturbing events in the West. KRISØV-17 is literal proof that we live in a poorly written Hollywood movie and that world leaders find difficulties in differentiating between entertainment and statistical probabilities. The fourteen songs on The Anti-Terror Album that plays in the exhibition is written as a direct counter-response to this. Protest songs are vibrating the walls in the exhibition hall.
This year we have been terrorized by Covid-19; invisible and without smell or sound, nor carrying any passport. Comparing the threats posed by the virus to threats of a terrorist attack is to some extent relevant by its sheer destructive force, and how the virus has created public and media disruption and fear. The difference is, however, that the terrorist has a political aim whereas the virus may have political consequences. If we were to argue that the virus is a terrorist and holds a lesson to humanity, we would have to adopt ancient Greek or another animistic world views. The Gods would rage against a world out of balance that provides opportunities for the virus to grow. Where can we find visionary leaders with concepts of safety that discourages terror?
On the bat's journey through the artist studio, it merged with the Rose Quartz while Voss-Knude was listening to a press conference by New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern during the pandemic lockdown. To his great surprise, her administration considers both the tooth fairy and the Easter egg bunny as essential workers. Stressing the importance of imagination, play and of creative modes of being there for one another, even more during a pandemic. This worldview exists ‘out there’, and Voss-Knude wants to remind us of that. The relentless optimism of the Prime Minister shines through in her actions based on intersectional, feminist solidarity, and feminist actions that could be an ongoing source of inspiration to others.
Alternative ways of being in the world are not romantically naive, but possible and as real as the other normal dogmas we pursue. Peter Voss-Knude has decided to be quite literal in attributing the thoughts of the New Zealand Prime Minister as part of the actual material that has gone into the production of the exhibition’s visionary strategy. He has donated 20% of the exhibition production budget to her 2020 re-election campaign. This to mimic how Ardern and her ministers gave themselves a 20% pay cut in solidarity with those who lost their jobs during the lockdown.
The exhibition is not only a tour of questioning the structure of our sociological landscape. Its form and content set its sights on dissolving the separation between critical artistic work and the war on terror. Voss-Knude is an artist aspiring to use his artistic practice to contribute to future politics - ambitions that are as difficult as they are bold. The Anti-Terror Tour presents moments of queer emancipation that encourages us to bombard our bodies and minds with speculations on beauty, solidarity, resistance, and song.
- Text by Gitte Sætre
Link to the full album
Music video #1
Music video #2