Bergen Kunsthall presents a large-scale exhibition with new works by the American artist Oscar Tuazon. Tuazon (b. 1975 in Seattle, WA) is known predominantly for his sculptural work, but his practice also expands towards architecture and activism. His work often uses architectural techniques and materials, producing quasi-functional objects, parts or representations of spaces, or constructions that are open to use and appropriation. His well-known fireplace sculptures, for example, shown often in public sites, provide a space for collective gatherings. Many of his projects are inspired by alternative and utopian architectures of the 1960 and 1970s, do-it-yourself buildings and early eco-efficient and self-sustainable living models. Tuazon explores these architectural approaches to test their potential for today, not only in terms of the underlying technological principles but also alternative uses of space and models of subjectivity they propose.
The exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall presents new works and a large-scale installation connected to Tuazon’s ongoing project “Water School”. With this project, starting in 2016, Tuazon and collaborators explore the dynamics and power plays that regulate access to land, water, and infrastructures. In 2018, Tuazon founded the Los Angeles Water School (LAWS) as an educational centre focusing on water as the connective tissue between people and their surroundings. Since then, it has also opened in other locations through exhibitions and social work. The physical structure of the “Water School” is based on a design for a “Zome House” (1969-1972) by the architects and engineers Holly and Steve Baer, an early radical design based on the use of passive solar energy. As the artist explains the project, “Water School moves, following water as it cycles across vast geographies, linking mountains to oceans and subterranean aquifers to the skies above them. Water School is a mobile architecture, learning from the fluidity of its medium and the collaborative process of its construction.”
For his exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, Oscar Tuazon presents a scaled-down version of the initial “Water School” pavilions. The structure will occupy all four main gallery spaces of the Kunsthall and create a series of rooms in which inside and outside blurs. Additional works will create useable situations, provide reading materials, and document previous iterations of the “Water School”. Further works explore the artistic imagination of water. An ensemble of powder-printed windows echoes the architecture of the “Water School” physical structure, containing additional image material, like drawings or paintings. In the centre of the exhibition, a new fountain sculpture will bring water, its materiality, and the sounds we connect with it directly into the exhibition. The show will also include a series of works by Larry “Ulaaq” Ahvakana, a Native Alaskan artist and early mentor of Tuazon.
Curated by Axel Wieder.
The exhibition is produced in cooperation with Kunst Museum Winterthur and Kunsthalle Bielefeld.