Toril Johannessen
The Festival Exhibition 2024: Deterrence and Reassurance

Detail view of textiles in small, cut pieces
Toril Johannessen, detail view, 2024. Photo: Toril Johannessen

Bergen Kunsthall is proud to present Toril Johannessen as the Festival Artist 2024. The Festival Exhibition is considered the most important solo presentation for a Norwegian artist in the country and has been shown each summer since 1953, in parallel to the Bergen International Festival. Toril Johannessen will present a new installation across the four main galleries of Bergen Kunsthall, including a new large-scale woven carpet made from military textiles.

Information as material is central in many of Johannessen’s projects, including through the development of her own methods and datasets, that form the basis for works. Past works have made links between historical contexts and recent technological developments, looking at how historical factors interact and shape how we perceive and create reality. Her approach highlights the relationship between art, knowledge production and technology, giving visibility to social structures and events that otherwise remain hidden or publicly inaccessible.

The exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall is based on the artist’s current interest in military presence and the geopolitical situation in the High North. The conceptual framework for the exhibition is formed by the concept of deterrence and reassurance that forms the core of Norwegian security policies in the North, with a border to Russia and, previously, the Soviet Union. With Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014 and the war against Ukraine starting in 2022, the security landscape has changed significantly, also in Norway. Johannessen’s project documents and visualises the presence of the military in the landscape and the social imaginary, which seemingly belonged to the past but has, in fact, never disappeared.

The exhibition presents, amongst other works, an extensive series of silk-screen works, titled Presence, for which a first part was created for the Evenes Air Station, commissioned by KORO, Norway’s national agency for public art. Each work in the series has its own theme and method, from personal observations to the collection of colloquial place names hinting at military presence and mappings of linguistic diversity. The exhibition also presents documentation of a second — unrealised — public artwork by Johannessen, which was intended as a memorial for prisoners of war in Northern Norway.

A discursive programme of talks and conversations, in parts taking place within the exhibition, will explore and expand on the strands that run through the projects, as a way to engage with these political themes. A book with texts and materials will be published after the exhibition.

Johannessen grew up in Harstad, studied at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design and currently lives and works in Bergen.

PDF: English Handout

Members Tour
Tue 21 May 18:00
Free for our members & 1 guest

Thu 23 May 13:00
Official opening on the steps of Bergen Kunsthall
Speeches by Axel Wieder, Director Bergen Kunsthall, and Tom Knappskog, Director Culture and Creative Businesses at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Opening Party with DJ Karolin Tampere
Thu 23 May 22:30—01:00 Free

Opening Weekend
Fri 24 — Sun 26 May 11:00—17:00
Free entry to the exhibition during the opening weekend!

Toril Johannessen
Artist talk
Sat 25 May 14:00

Cross-border Cooperation
Pikene på Broen
Thu 30 May 18:00
Gallery I

Philippe Rekacewicz:
Radical Mapping — A practice between art, science and politics
Sat 8 Jun 12:00

Å møte seg selv i døra
Thu 8 Aug 18:00
In cooperation with Det Vestnorske Teateret and Bergen Borgerscene

Aileen Asreon Espiritu:
Cultural diplomacy at a crossroad — The Norwegian-Russian borderlands
Sat 10 Aug 14:00

Every Sunday
13:00 Tour and workshop for families
14:00 Tour