19 September 2012


Monica Winther/Spartacus Chetwynd/Marja-Leena Sillanpää
curated by Ruth Hege Halstensen arranged by R-Open
Performances by three artists on three spots on three days

There are three possible approaches to this story. I could write about the artist from London coming to this remote island in the Nordic sea, I could also write about the 215 inhabitants having a great artist visiting their island, or I could write about mainlanders travelling far to experience both the performance and the island.
I will write about the last one, because that is my story.

R-open invited Ruth Hege Halstensen to arrange a happening with performance art. She first chose three special spots in Rogaland, then she invited artist to do their performances there. The spots were Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) - the absolutely most visited spot in the region, Utsira - the smallest municipality in Norway - far out in the Nordic sea, and Burmavegen - a road crossing Karmøy island - a road both connected to nature experiences and mystique.

Transport was provided to all the three performances this weekend, I attended the Saturday trip to Utsira, to see the performance of Spartacus Chetwynd. To get there from Stavanger the bus took us in two and a half hour to Haugesund, through two sub-sea tunnels and a ferry. From Haugesund there was a ferry going for 70 minutes straiht west out to the sea, to the solitary, rocky piece of land called Utsira. The island's 215 have 6,3 km3 to roam about on, providing all they need. From the harbour we walked 2 kilometres up to the lighthouse, situated on the highest point on the island, 70 metres above sea level.  About one fourth of the population was already gathered there.

Each one got a ticket, stating your place in the queue to experience the performance. The audience was taken in in groups, to sit down in a dark, small room. In a makeshift puppet theatre scene of branches and newspapers the legend of the seal-wife was told, in the dim light of flashlights. The visual impressions were completed by a strange creature that emerged from a closet to tell us what was happening on the stage.

The show lasted for about 10 minutes, then it was time to walk back down to the ferry, a boat ride across rolling waves in bright sunshine, and the bus ride back to Stavanger. It may seem a bit strange to spend nine hours travelling to see a 10 minute performance. And it would be if you consider the travelling as pure transport. But this was a crucuial part of the experience. Passing the green islands, the dark tunnels, the bright blue sea and sky, the slight sea sickness - all this was both a joy and a preparation for the climax, and the return with slightly dozing on the bus was part of the comedown after the show. It would have been a totally different experience if it had happened in downtown Stavanger.

This was my story, I would love to hear the version of the artist or the inhabitants.  

Travelling to Utsira
Changing from bus to boat

Travelling to Utsira
From the mainland to Utsira

Travelling to Utsira
Arriving at Utsira

Travelling to Utsira
The road to the lighthouse

Travelling to Utsira
Queueing up for the performance

Travelling to Utsira
The performance by Spartacus Chetwynd and locals


All info on www.awakening.no and www.r-open.no
Documentation of the performances will also be put here later.