Adelita Husni-Bey Adelita Husni-Bey: Maktspill Adelita Husni-Bey (b. 1985, Milan, Italy) works and lives in Italy and New York. Her recent solo exhibi- tions include Chiron, New Museum, New York (2019), White Paper: On Land, Law and the Imagi- nary, CA2M, Mostoles and A Wave in the Well, Sur- sock Museum, Beirut (2016). She represented Italy at the Venice Biennale (2017) with a video rooted in anti-extractivist struggles.

Libyan-Italian artist Adelita Husni-Bey describes herself both as an artist and a pedagogue. Her work uses noncompetitive learning models, inspi- red by pioneers such as the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal’s participa- tory theater and workers’ education initiatives. Often making use of the workshop as a format to engage groups in critically examining the present, her work results in a variety of formats: publicati- ons, radio broadcasts, archives, exhibitions and lms, with schools, hospitals and legal aid organi- zations. Her practice is grounded in imagining change in contemporary society and analyzing the roots of power relations, conviviality and exclusion. At the same time, her approach re ects on how tools of learning and participation, with their inhe- rent power dynamics, for example in the school system, play an integral function for the state and its economy.

At Bergen Kunsthall Adelita Husni-Bey presents an installation and workshop titled “Maktspill”. A lm, Agency, in the centre of the installation chronicles a 3-day intensive role-play with students from Manara High School in Rome, produced in 2015, in which the students enact some of the assumed roles in a neoliberal democracy: politicians, journa- lists, workers, activists and bankers. Through a set of rules, the participants play out and modify the power relationships between the groups, creating coalitions and negotiating their impact and depen- dencies through the game. Modeled after a citize- nship education project developed in the UK as a form of critical learning, Agency asks the crucial and ambivalent question: how is ‘agency’ – the abi- lity to enact change in society – intertwined with power?
The premise for the game was a situation based on an actual daily newspaper headline from the time: an earthquake had caused severe damage in a region of the country, leaving workers in a precari- ous position. In the workshop, the students develo- ped the following scenario: The “activists” divided themselves into two fractions with differing ideolo- gies, while the “politicians” attempted to form a grand left-wing coalition called the Maxxist Lea- gue. The “activists” decided at this point to form an extreme right-wing party to challenge the Max- xist league, and wins in the course of the process the elections. The “bankers” are accused of selling their vote to the right-wing coalition, while the “workers” are left to their own devices and put together a third force called the Five Orange Movement, which they use as a vehicle to display dissent after a number of failed protests. The documentation follows the game and the re ec- tions of the students about the impact of their actions.

During the exhibition period, the screening room will be used as a workspace and classroom for a
new iteration of the role-play, involving groups of young people in Bergen. Photographic backdrops are used both as a screen for the lm and as ele- ments against which the workshop takes place and leave its trace during the exhibition. For the workshop in Bergen, a new premise will be develo- ped in response to the news of the day, and the groups will nd their own ways to react. The diffe- rence in context – Italy and Norway – and the time that passed since the rst workshop play a signi - cant role in the exhibition. In some ways the pro- ject in Rome predicted developments that are characteristic of contemporary neoliberalism. The participants in Agency anticipated the rise of populist movements and the effects of austerity measures in their re ections on how power is sha- red and taken, but more importantly: how it can be redistributed. The new iteration in Bergen will draw from its own speci c context, through intro- ductory sessions with local experts and the use of news headlines from Norwegian politics. How do these power dynamics play out differently in the context of a Nordic welfare state? What has chan- ged in the past ve years that have seen drastic developments in the use of media, also in politics? In the installation, visitors are invited to follow this process, and speculate on their own. What will shift in order to create new scenarios for coming generations? What is the result of the neoliberal restructuring of sociality?

The exhibition is a collaboration of Bergen Kunst- hall and Borealis – a festival for experimental music.
Workshop: Class 2KDA (Art, design and architec- ture), Olsvikåsen videregående skole (high school), 9–13 March 2020. Teachers: Atle Kold Hansen and Lillian Presthus.

Adelita Husni-Bey
Agency, 2015
HD video, 27 mins.
Workshop framework and lm editing: Adelita Husni Bey. With the participation of students from Manara Highschool, Rome. Courtesy Laveronica Arte Contemporanea

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