Text Commissions Speculative Histories Bergen Kunsthall is proud to announce a new series of text commissions, furthering our discursive work around our exhibition and live program, exploring practices of artists and writers presenting newly produced content and made available online.

This text commission series is part of the programme Speculative Histories. The text commissions will include texts by Caspar Heinemann, Nikima Jagudajev, Grace Ndiritu and Chris E. Vargas.

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #6:

Linda Peckham & Leslie Thornton: The Aftermath of Intelligence – Peggy and Fred in Hell

The Aftermath of Intelligence / Peggy and Fred in Hell is a return to the second volume of Unsound, an artist-run publication from the 1980’s featuring texts from Linda Peckham and Leslie Thornton, offering insight into the developmental processes of Thornton’s extensive film work. Peggy and Fred in Hell, (1981-2016) is an experimental correspondence, set in a timeless space where we are introduced to two children whose vision of the world is shaped by an unstructured manifestation of technology and historical reportage.

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #5:

Nikima Jagudajev: The Backstreet Boys

This winter Bergen Kunsthall’s gallery V was transformed into a space for a durational live project by the dancer and choreographer Nikima Jagudajev. The space was open for audiences while Jagudajev developed, together with collaborators, a new work titled ‘Basically’. The exhibition and live performance was a core element and a framework for the live programme “Speculative Histories”. The text "Backstreet Boys" (2020–2021) is written by Nikima Jagudajev. Edited by Olivia Fearweather. Commissioned by Karmaklubb* and Bergen Kunsthall. Published by Karmaklubb* / IGWTLI publishing and Bergen Kunsthall.

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #4:

Bruce Benderson: Against Marriage

A slightly longer version of the essay first appeared in pamphlet form as part of the Whitney Biennial Box Set, produced for the 2014 Whitney Biennial and described by critic and scholar Aaron Leckliker in his essay, “Sexing the Semiotext (e)”⁕ as follows: “Produced in connection with the Whitney Biennial, the Semiotext(e) Whitney Biennial Box Set, a massive enterprise undertaken by a community of individuals working as curators, editors, writers, designers, and photographers, represents a remarkably diverse, coherent, stylish, and creative articulation of the current state of sexuality, art, and the Left, filtered through a distinctively queer lens. Comprised of twenty-two new publications—editor Hedi El Kholti prefers to call them “subtle aesthetic manifestoes”—and six original translations by luminaries such as Jean Baudrillard, Julio Cort zar, and Tony Duvert, the box brings together a dazzling assortment of cutting-edge writers exploring ideas still marginalized within mainstream scholarship on sexuality and the Left.”

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #3:

Grace Ndiritu & Nina Bacos: Jungle Fever

Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist whose artworks are concerned with the transformation of our contemporary world. Ndiritu has been featured in TIME magazine, Phaidon’s The 21st Century Art Book, Art Monthly, Apollo Magazine’s “40 under 40” list and Elephant magazine.. Her work is housed in museum collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the British Council, the Modern Art Museum (Warsaw). Her writing has been published in her debut non-fiction book Dissent Without Modification (2021) Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; Whitechapel Gallery’s Documents of Contemporary Art anthology series; The Paris Review; Le Journal Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers; Animal Shelter Journal, Semiotext(e) & MIT Press; Metropolis M and The Oxford University Press.

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #2:

Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art: Speculative Futures & Hirstories, by Chris E. Vargas

Chris E. Vargas is a video maker & interdisciplinary artist currently based in Bellingham, WA whose work deploys humor and performance in conjunction with mainstream idioms to explore the complex ways that queer and trans people negotiate spaces for themselves within historical & institutional memory and popular culture. He earned his MFA in the department of Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. From 2008-2013, he made, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love...with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2015) which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues. Vargas is also the Executive Director of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art.

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Text Commissions - Speculative Histories #1:

New Normal America: On Weirdness, Folk, Whiteness, by Caspar Heinemann

The first issue in the series is New Normal America: On Weirdness, Folk, Whiteness, a newly commissioned poetic work by Caspar Heinemann, thinking through land and national identity in the context of the two waves of psychedelic folk music, England in the '60s and the US in the early '00s.

Caspar Heinemann works across poetry, essay, scriptwriting and criticism. His work is concerned with biopolitics, esoterica, and the legacies of 20th century cultural and sexual countercultures. Commissioned by Bergan Kunstall, he is creating a new poetic work thinking through land and national identity in the context of the two waves of psychedelic folk music, England in the '60s and the US in the early '00s.

#3 Nikima Jagudajev - The Backstreet Boys
#4 Bruce Benderson - Against Marriage
#5 Grace Ndiritu & Nina Bacos - Jungle Fever
#6 Leslie Thornton - The Aftermath of Intelligence - Peggy and Fred in Hell

Speculative Histories
Speculative Histories is a series of artist commissions and events that proposes methods of literary fiction as a means to question what our institutions could look like today if other groups in society had been granted more power in the past. The programme includes historical and contemporary practices of feminist organising, intersectional anti-racist and queer perspectives, suggesting alternatives for institutional practices based on a re-shifted lens on the past.

Re-Imagine Europe
Part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Re-Imagine Europe is initiated by Sonic Acts (NL) and coordinated by Paradiso (NL) in collabora-tion with Elevate Festival (AT), Lighthouse (UK), INA GRM (FR), Kontejner (HR), Landmark / Bergen Kunsthall (NO), A4 (SK), Disruption Network Lab (DE) and Ràdio Web MACBA (ES).

Curated by Scott Elliott, Bergen Kunsthall, 2021

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