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Caroline Bergvall

DRIFT

Opening: Friday, January 9, 6–8pm

January 9 – February 15, 2015

A black field with text overlapping in white. The image is a video still.

Caroline Bergvall in collaboration with Thomas Köppel, Seafarer, 2014. Electronic text, generative loop, 17 minutes. Edition of 1, with 2 AP.

A photograph of a silkscreen on paper. The shape resembles a polaroid (white space on the bottom and a white frame around a central black space). The black space in the middle of the work has text in faint blue letters, illegible from a distance.

Caroline Bergvall, FOG 8 (black), 2014. Silkscreen on cotton paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Edition of 3.

A detail of Bergvall's black ground upon her silkscreen work, where the text is legible. The text is poetry.

Caroline Bergvall, FOG 8 (black) (detail), 2014. Silkscreen on cotton paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Edition of 3.

A photograph of a silkscreen on paper. The shape resembles a polaroid (white space on the bottom and a white frame around a central grey space). The grey space in the middle of the work has text in faint blue letters, illegible from a distance.

Caroline Bergvall, FOG 15 (blue), 2014. Silkscreen on cotton paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Edition of 3.

A detail of Bergvall's grey ground upon her silkscreen work, where the text is in light blue. The text says: no mooring / no dragged anchorage / not ever no more no mere keeping it / together the lines are rigged my heart unfools / walks the waters plows the wisdom of the wilds / travelling large Days are gewitnessed recall / that sails were made for filling that love / was made for blessing Blow wind / blow, noon am I

Caroline Bergvall, FOG 15 (blue) (detail), 2014. Silkscreen on cotton paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Edition of 3.

A photograph of a silkscreen on paper. The shape resembles a polaroid (white space on the bottom and a white frame around a central grey space). The grey space in the middle of the work has text in faint gold letters, illegible from a distance.

Caroline Bergvall, FOG 12 (gold), 2014. Silkscreen on cotton paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm). Edition of 3.

A drawing on paper that depicts a small block of horizontal lines in the top-center of a page. The top 1/6 of the lines are thick and somewhat cross-hatched. The work is framed in white.

Caroline Bergvall, LINES 1, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm)

A very small composition of dense black lines that appear to be "p"'s layered on top of one another. The rectangle is in the center, somewhat to the left. The work itself is framed in white.

Caroline Bergvall, BLOCK 16A6 / 2, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm)

A composition of horizontal lines, where the middle line and bottom line are darker than the rest. It appears to be a doodle of sorts, very gestural. It is just higher than center of the page and the whole work is framed in white.

Caroline Bergvall, BLOCK 16A6 / 2, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm)

A composition of black overlapping forms that appear like a group of moss or concrete poetry. The group is in the middle of the page but slightly up-left.

Caroline Bergvall, BLOCK A616 / 8, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm)

A small square composition of symbols that shift from a "P" shape to a paragraph sign, layered loosely on top of one another with some white space within the arrangement. The composition is almost in the middle of the page, slightly up.

Caroline Bergvall, BLOCK A616 / 12, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm)

A loose composition of lines drawn horizontally. The gradation alters slightly with some darker areas in the lower region of the shape.

Caroline Bergvall, LINES 12, 2012–13. India ink on sketching paper, 11 x 8 1/4 inches (27.9 x 21 cm). 

An abstract image printed on aluminum that depicts a blue, layered image with black over it. It seems like it could be a view looking through a screen or over water.

Tom Martin, Passenger (from series, "Aircraft Sighting: 33°40' N, 13°05' E"), 2014. Photographic macro treatment on aluminum mount, 11.81 x 11.81 inches (30 x 30 cm)

Press Release

Callicoon Fine Arts is please to present DRIFT, an exhibition by Caroline Bergvall, her first in the United States. The installation uses a range of media to trace up historical and literary maritime narratives, linking them to today’s perilous sea migrations of people between nations. In these artworks, language signals its traces across history and geography, moving between arrival and disappearance, and the states of loss and confusion in between.

The exhibition gives material and spatial form to a project that also exists as a performance piece (developed with a percussionist and a visual artist) and as an artist book published last year by Nightboat Books. The hopes and failures of mapping, contact and communicating are evoked in the installation with a wall mural of the Constellation of the Zodiac. The zodiac in this case is a guiding celestial chart and also the outline of the type of small rubber boat used by both refugees and rescue teams. A set of four large text-based prints, FOGS, are strung taunt between the ceiling and floor with nautical rope. Short text sequences are faintly visible against gray backgrounds close in hue. The use of translucent pigments increase the reader-traveller’s perceptual fog. Tied to another rope is a headphone audio piece, a recitation by Bergvall recorded using a combination of microphones including an old Reslo ribbon microphone. The words and consonants drown in its buzz. The title, Hafville, is an Old Norse word meaning “lost at sea”. In a second audio piece Bergvall recites the survivors’ narrative from the “Left-to-Die” boat case of April 2011.

In a series of framed drawings, Bergvall reinscribes a lost letter, the runic “thorn” letter, a symbol that came to light in an examination of her own Nordic roots. Her marks, iterative and intuitive, collapse the temporal and the understood, destabilizing our certainty regarding language and directionality. Concretions of language adrift through history and border politics find yet a different form in a video, a generative loop of electronic texts, which have been recomposed from the performance’s visual material and shift in wave-like forms. Its contents emerge from the Anglo-Saxon quest poem The Seafarer as well as a report on the plight of migrants adrift on a raft in the Mediterranean.

Bergvall’s research into the origins of the English language flow into her own exploration of material, linguistic, and acoustic worlds, creating a project both intimate and political. 

Caroline Bergvall would like to thank her collaborators Thomas Köppel, Tom Martin and Matthew Rich/Jealous Print Studio, London.

Caroline Bergvall is an artist and writer of French-Norwegian origins based in London and Geneva. Her projects alternate between books, audio pieces, collaborative performances and installations. Her publications include Drift, Meddle English: New and Selected Texts, and the catalogue Middling English (2010) as well as a DVD of earlier installations Ghost Pieces: five language-based installations (2010). Recent group shows/festivals include: MCA Denver, The Power Plant (Toronto), Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona), Théâtre du Grütli (Geneva), The Serpentine Galleries (London), The Museum of Modern Art (NY), DIA Arts Foundation (NY), and The Tate Modern (London). She recently completed a performance version of Drift, which toured the UK in the Autumn of 2014. Bergvall is currently Writer-in-Residence, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

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