An Evening with Knut Ãsdam

An Evening with Knut Åsdam

Introduced by Kaja Silverman, followed by a discussion between Åsdam and Homay King.

Knut Åsdam is one of the most internationally recognized Norwegian artists today, having represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Åsdam makes films, installations, and photographs that question our degree of conditioning through urban space and incite us to live in a more conscious manner. In his photographs, his principal subject is architecture that he considers to be at the “conjunction of the social, of the personal, of the paranoiac, and of the public.” Recent exhibitions include: Tate Modern, London (2011); The Depo, Istanbul (2011); Kunsthalle de Bergen, Norway (2010); Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam (2007); Tate Britain, Glasgow (2000); Biennale de Venise (1999).

Homay King is Associate Professor of History of Art, and Director of the Program in Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the Enigmatic Signifier (Duke UP, 2010). Her essays on film and contemporary art have appeared in Afterall, Discourse, Film Quarterly, October, and elsewhere. She is a member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective, and is currently working on a book titled Virtual Memory: Time-based Art and the Dream of Digitality.

Filter City
dir. Knut Åsdam, Norway, 2003, digital, 23 min.
Filter City focuses on two women, their relation to each other and to a city that is in transformation–architectonically, politically, and socially.

Oblique
dir. Knut Åsdam, Norway, 2008, digital, 13 min.
An articulation of identity in transition. The entire film was shot on a train moving through a continuous mass built from cities and their adjoining regions. The characters are traveling in the suspended generic space of the train through regions composed of old and new economies and old and new social realities. On the train itself, a targeted but sometimes absurd narrative plays itself out as a linguistic reaction to the time and place.

Abyss
dir. Knut Åsdam, Norway/UK, 2010, digital, 43 min.
The film portrays an urban reality characterized by migration and change – the movement of people, the movement of money and power, and the drift of the imagination. The 43 min. experimental film and installation work is set within spaces of the modern city – markets, gyms, parking lots, parks, squares, streets, and stores. The main character, O, negotiates her material world; the city’s economic, political, and social demands appear to have been absorbed into her movements, speech, and psychology. The urban sprawl that takes in the Olympic site and the Thames Gateway features the sorts of “composite architectures” that often provide the backdrop to Åsdam’s films. In Abyss, the cityscape is the other main protagonist of the film, one that the other protagonists are subjected to.

Tripoli
dir. Knut Åsdam, Norway/Lebanon, 2011, digital, 24 min.
Tripoli emphasizes the political history and architectural traces through the preserved relics of our recent past. It also emphasizes psychological and traumatic dimension of a place reflecting political history. In the city of Tripoli in Northern Lebanon one finds the remains of one of the world’s most distinctive and ambitious construction projects, a stranded vision in the form of an international fairground and conference center designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1966. The project started in an optimistic period when Lebanon was a success story of the Middle East. However, a few years later, in 1975, the civil war broke out and all the work on the extensive project ceased. The complex was never completed, and was instead used for ammunition storage, a landing place for helicopters and other military uses, or it was simply closed to the public for long periods. The film is part architectural documentary and part incoherent and fragmented theatrical drama. The fragments of stories mirror the ambiguous and schizoid nature of the site, and attempt to leave space for a story of violence, disjunction, and the uncanny.

This program is made possible by the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, the Slought Foundation, International House Philadelphia, Penn Design, the Department of History of Art, and the Department of Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

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An Evening with Knut Åsdam

Wednesday, October 16 · 7:00 PM at International House Philadelphia