Official opening: 'Claiming Space'

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Fotogalleriet

34 Møllergata

0179 Grünerløkka

Norway

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Skeiv Verden, an organisation working for the rights and visibility of queer people with a minority background, "takes over" Fotogalleriet

About this event

Based on discussions about how diversity, representation, and accountability should increasingly characterize the art field and public institutions, Fotogalleriet invited Skeiv Verden ("Queer World") for an institutional "take-over." The project Claiming Space will be the first of its kind in a public art institution in Norway, with president of Skeiv Verden, Bassel Hatoum, as curator.

Exhibiting artists are Ahmed Umar, Chai Saeidi and Damien Ajavon, and performing artists are Carl Aquilizan, Hamid Waheed and Mohamed Mohamed, with an architectural concept by Antoine Fadel and coordinator Samer Hayek. The public programme is coordinated with assistance from Miki Gebrelul. As part of the exhibition period there will also be a library and reading list curated by Assata compiled by Piniel Demisse and a unique mixtape by Copenhagen based inclusive club collective Group Therapy.

The exhibition will be officially opened by State Secretary Gry Haugsbakken from the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality. The Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, will also be present. There will be a special performance by artist(s) Mohamed Mohamed at 18:00.

Due to limited capacity, registration is required in specified time slots. Please stay at home if you are sick and cancel your order if you cannot attend so someone on the waiting list can claim your space. If you are more than 10 minutes late we cannot guarantee entry in the alloted time.

We thank you for your cooperation and can't wait to see you!

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

For queer people with a minority background, the question of safety is central to issues around visibility and representation. As architect Antoine Fadel says, a "safe space" is not indicative of a specific form or function of a room or public space, or whether you are alone or sharing a space with others. Fadel says that rather, the experience or lack of safety is a "constant emotional and mental state, affected by a multitude of factors as you move through everyday life and various encounters."

In collaboration with Fadel, curator Bassel Hatoum and a project team are transforming Fotogalleriet's exhibition space into a public forum to facilitate discussions on visibility, with work by artists Ahmed Umar, Chai Saeidi and Damien Ajavon and performances by artists Carl Azquilian, Hamid Waheed and Mohammed Mohammed. These are some of the foremost artists working on the topics of safety, protection, visibility, community, and tactility in Norway today.

As a public exhibition space for art, Fotogalleriet functions as a place for representation and image production that influences material inclusion and exclusion. As Norway’s primary interest organization for LGBTIQ+ people with a minority background, Skeiv Verden strives for an expanding of diversity in representation. Its mission is a society where everyone can live full lives, with the freedom to openly express their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of discrimination.

The project strives to break with a structural pattern that lie deep within the art institution's unconsciousness: aesthetic normativization. A series of events, produced with the assistance of Miki Gebrelul, will engage activists, artists, and spokespersons for individuals and groups from different backgrounds offer an interdisciplinary approach to politics of acceptance and belonging, and production and distribution of images.

By giving Skeiv Verden the role of curator, a position of power and definition within the art world, Fotogalleriet believes different demands can come together to contribute actively and ask for new measures within and outside of the art field.

ABOUT THE OPENING PERFORMANCE

Mohamed Mohamed (b.1994, pronouns: him/his) is a collective with its body as a meeting place, and art as a means of communication. We have a flat structure, where the goal is to give each other as much space as possible to just be and break out of the “self” as it does not accommodate all the background Mohamed Mohamed has. The most prominent in the group are Maxamed, Mo, Moa and Momo. Our work is multimedia, but there is great agreement that we are first and foremost a performance group that lean towards performing arts. Some of us are currently studying Fine Arts from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Department of the Academy of Fine Art. Identity and existential questions, the physical experience here, the limitations of the physical world are recurring themes in our projects.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITING ARTISTS

Ahmed Umar (b.1988, pronouns: him/his) is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Oslo, Norway. He graduated from Oslo National Academy of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Printmaking (2011–2014), followed by a master’s degree in Fine Art, specializing in medium- and material-based art (2014–2016). Umar's practice is mainly based on stories and self- portraits that blend aspects of identity, personal experiences and ancestral connections to the Nubian empire in Sudan. It is informed by his conservative upbringing in Mecca, and Sudan, and often highlights the repercussions of existing outside of social and cultural norms. He uses his personal experiences as tools to discuss the silencing, demonizing, and compromising of queer lives in both the Sudanese and international context.

Chai Saeidi (b.1998, pronouns: they/them) is a visual and story-telling queer visibility artist and photographer. They are currently based in Oslo, Norway, with a background from Tehran, Iran. Their work explores themes such as gender, community and visibility. Queer individuals often create their own communities, resulting in non-traditional forms of intimacy and relationships. This is often shown in their work. Chai's analog photography draws from a documentary tradition, more often touched with a free artistic expression.

Damien Ajavon (b.1990, pronouns: they/them) is a queer textile artist, born in France, of Senegalese and Togolese origin currently based in Based in Oslo. Ajavon grounds his practice by positioning themselves in the world through their heritage, with work that explores the different methods in which textiles fibers can be manipulated by hand: knitted, knotted, braided, tangled, and woven. The interaction between visual and tactile experiences has always played an important role in their process; Ajavon uses his African and western influences as a vehicle for his textile storytelling and as visual markers of their creative approaches. It is through textile languages rather than oral ones that Ajavon has been unearthing and weaving connections with their ancestry. In doing so, Ajavon puts into practice their African cultures and conjures artistic gestures in honor of intergenerational and transatlantic learning to take space.

ABOUT FOTOGALLERIET

Fotogalleriet is a publicly funded institution and the oldest kunsthalle for photography in the Nordic region. The institution facilitates new artistic productions and forward-thinking discussions through its research-based program questioning the social role of images in today’s society. The Norwegian Royal Ministry of Culture provides Fotogalleriet’s principal operating support; additional operational funding comes from the Norwegian Photographic Fund (Nofofo) and the Oslo Municipality.

ABOUT SKEIV VERDEN

Skeiv Verden is a national interest organization for LGBTQI+ people with a minority background in Norway. They are an independent, religiously and politically independent organization that works purposefully for a society where everyone, regardless of their ethnic or religious origin, can live out their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression without experiencing discrimination. Their work is made possible due to dedicated and committed volunteers, members, contributors, partners and an active board.

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Fotogalleriet

34 Møllergata

0179 Grünerløkka

Norway

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Organizer of Official opening: 'Claiming Space'

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