The Power & Paper program consists of an exhibition, seminar, publication and film screenings. The themes revolve around photography, officially documented history, individual relationships to memories and history, and concepts around manipulation, authenticity and authorship.
To curate Power & Paper, NOUA has invited Hong Kong-based curator Francesca Marcaccio, who has previously worked on similar issues at the British Museum and in the archive collection at Whitechapel Gallery in London. Through the main exhibition and an intertwined dissemination program consisting of publication, seminars and talks, the artists Michal BarOr, Clare Strand and Samuel Henne - together with the writers Diane Smyth, Karen McQuaid and Maria Lyngstad Willassen - reflect on the power artists have to present alternative realities and lead audiences attention towards new ways of navigating found images, historical material and public archives.
The exhibition, which opens in September, presents works that deal with photographic archives. Here, the curators and artists question our perception of the truth value in photographic documentation. In their work, the artists present alternative historical directions and problematise existing stories instead of confirming them. Existing photographic archives are subject to reinterpretation, reappropriation and deconstruction of existing photographic archives and their ability to stimulate new discussions.
Can artists free the archived photographs and documents from their usual interpretations and thus redirect our common, ideologically charged narratives?
What happens during the transformation from public and institutional archive material to an exhibition transformed by artists? How does the presentation of archived images affect the collective understanding of history?
The archive is often seen as an undisputed true presentation of historical events, painstakingly collected on governmental levels. In a "Post Truth" era when information resources are easily accessible, the archive as we know it is open to new research. This includes photographic archives: here the images are often presented as facts that represent the world objectively. Artists have power when they reuse established narratives. They navigate through several layers of bureaucracy, packing dry and inaccessible archives into visual presentations that can give the viewer new insight into historical events, trigger debate and sow seeds for change.
Exhibition designer Tom Lovelace breathes life into the exhibition space through spatial touches created to enter into a dialogue with each artist's visual language.
The Power and Paper program is generously supported by the Arts Council Norway, The Fritt Ord Foundation, The Norwegian Photographic Fund, Nordland County Municipality and Bodø Municipality.