29 October at 9pm with a performance by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd creates exuberant collective performances and films in which irreverence merges with joie de vivre. As part of Bergen Assembly, PRAXES has dedicated 2016 to a yearlong inquiry into Chetwynd’s practice.
Reawakening Jabba the Hutt — a protagonist of one of the artist’s early performance pieces, first summoned in 2003 — the exhibition marks the comeback of the slug-like creature and slave trader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Chetwynd, however, peels away Jabba’s vile, exaggerated Orientalist features to reveal a bon viveur babbling in Farsi about East/West politics. In previous iterations, the artist cast herself in a role reminiscent of the enslaved Princess Leia, forced to wear the iconic golden bikini. Yet in Chetwynd’s staging the scantily clad women become Jabba’s friendly helpers and fans, supporting him — now a relaxed, jazzy persona — at a Hollywood-like soirée in his honor. Thriving on Jabba’s grim sense of humor, ruthless dissent, and insatiable appetite for lush dance acts, Chetwynd’s upside-down rerun highlights a cornerstone in her practice: when building her libertine performances, she often draws on famed characters from cultural history, using them to dismantle hierarchies and satirize social practices via absurd and spontaneous choreographies.
Per trivia, Jabba the Hutt was originally intended to appear in the second Star Wars picture but was only featured in the third due to costly post-production — a decision reversed in a later, digitized edition of the film. Pondering questions of continuous editing of “historical” material — the augmented, virtual appearance versus an original performance — the exhibition in NO.5 features a series of instructional videos by Chetwynd explaining how to conserve and re-inflate props and costumes, and indeed how to perform her works. This material — more than mere step-by-step manuals, yet not actual artworks — speaks to the ghostly presence of past performances and their future potential. Not unlike cooking shows where amateur viewers project themselves as virtual chefs-in-progress, Chetwynd makes audiences and museum conservators complicit in performing, reviving the works’ distributed social acts, and thus uniting collecting and the collective.
Bergen Assembly is a triennial for artistic production and research. In 2016 Bergen Assembly presents a program following three, differently timed curatorial propositions: Tarek Atoui, freethought, and PRAXES. Within this context, PRAXES presents a whole year of events, publications, and exhibitions, created in collaboration with numerous Bergen venues and communities. The epicenters of this extended investigation are two unassociated artistic practices, those of Lynda Benglis and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.