In May 2023, artists Bik Van der Pol led a group of participants on a hike up Mount Løvstakken in Bergen to reflect on how we engage with the world and what we take from and give to the ground beneath our feet.
One of the seven Caledonian peaks that surround the city of Bergen, Mount Løvstakken forms part of the Earth’s continuously shifting tectonic system and, due to its geology, contains a high concentration of naturally occurring radioactive granite. Acting as what Marcia Bjornerod described in “Timefullness” (2018) as an ‘earth-embodied record’, the mountain bears witness to events that have unfolded – and continue to unfold – over millennia.
After hiking up Mount Løvstakken, participants assembled to form an inverted question mark, or point d’ironie, near the summit. The group later gathered at the artist studio collective Den uferdige institusjonen (The Unfinished Institution) in Laksevåg to discuss the future of energy production both locally and across the globe. To Gather on a Mountain brought together the knowledge and experience of a group of people in an attempt to reflect on humanity’s responsibility for the planet that we share with other living beings and on how our collective future ought to look. If there is such a thing as the ‘public good’, ask Bik Van der Pol, then who exactly constitutes that ‘public’, who benefits from the purportedly ‘good’ actions taken in its name, and how do we take stock of the consequences?
Following an introductory talk at Landmark, Bergen Kunsthall, the artists will premiere their new film, To Gather on a Mountain, which documents the hike up Mount Løvstakken using footage from drones and hand-held cameras. This event is the final component of Bik Van der Pol’s long-term commissioned project for Volt.
Since 1995, artists Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol have collaborated as Bik Van der Pol. Through their practice, Bik Van der Pol aim to understand and articulate how art can create space for speculation and imagination within the public realm. Establishing the conditions for encounter, Bik Van der Pol’s working process allows for the continuous reconfiguration of place, history and public. Their practice is site-specific and collaborative, with dialogue as a mode of communication.
In addition to exhibiting their work at numerous venues, the artists have participated in several biennials, including Gwangju, Istanbul, Jakarta and São Paulo. Recent and current projects include: What Is This World?, TENT, Rotterdam (2023) and Park, Tilburg (2022); research residency School of Casablanca, Casablanca and Berlin (2021–24); research residency, Volt, Bergen (2021); Far too many Stories to Fit into so Small a Box, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2019–20); and Take Part, SFMOMA and San Francisco Public Libraries (2018–20).
Former course directors of the temporary masters programme School of Missing Studies at Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam (2013–15), Bik Van der Pol are currently advisors at Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. Bik is also a course tutor at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, and presently chair of the Society of Arts at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The project has received support from the Mondriaan Fund. Volt’s programme in 2024 has received funding from Arts Council Norway and the City of Bergen.