Timeline of 70 years of NSU Study Circles!

As part of the arts/research project Tracing the Conversation, Nicole des Bouvrie has been exploring the (extra)ordinary twists and turns of the study circles of Nordic Summer University, stretching back 70 years! Flick through for facts, reflections and historical insights into the shaping of this unique, Nordic institution.

You can find out more about Nicole’s project – including its goals and methodology – on the dedicated website.

* Anniversary* – How The News Travels – Artist Talk + Q&A

TO REGISTER follow this link:
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvfu2uqjsvGdPfYKe0aSOuZfQfj7tYCHqt

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

How the news travels is a British-US-Danish collaboration between four visual artists and printers – David Armes, Jens Jørgen Hansen, Megan Adie and Luise Valetiner – brought together around the “literary time-capsule” of the NSU archive. Using the medium of letterpress printing to respond to the stories and discussions from NSU’s past, How the news travels takes a once-industrial process and uses it to craft a unique binding of prints, each page crafted by hand.

On July 31st at 7pm-8pm, project creator David Armes will unveil a digital version of the artist book, and talk through his journey from the crumpled Danish newspaper pages that packed his studio’s Eickhoff printing press (built in Copenhagen in 1956) to the finished volume.

How the news travels reinterprets NSU’s place in Nordic history and public life by weaving conventional narratives, images, symbols and literal texts. The bound artist book has been formed to show the tough material of NSU. As COVID-19 forced a shutdown of normal activities across the world, the essential elements which have made NSU thrive for our 70 years – interdisciplinary collaboration, across borders, sharing time in intimate surroundings – have been under great strain.

How the news travels is created by letterpress artist David Armes: http://www.redplatepress.com & on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @redplatepress. 

CALL FOR ‘HUMAN-TECHNOLOGY’ TRACES

I still need inspiration…

To celebrate 70 years of NSU’s activism and scholarship, in 2019 we embarked upon a series of arts-research projects which reflected the history of NSU and wider expressions of ‘Nordic’ values. From print-making to sound art, to VR installations and performances, our ten artists have been using every artistic-research-method under the sun! CLICK HERE to see how they’ve been putting it all together.

You can also find out more about the Cybioses circle here

MORE QUESTIONS!?

You can always visit our FAQ page.

What about that cool header image?

* The above image is sculpture called “EŦNICITY INC.” by @nathanael.lebret, one of the artists commissioned to explore NSU’s relationship with ‘Nordicness’, in project Into The Forest…

CALL FOR ‘URBAN STUDIES’ TRACES

As part of our re-designed 2020 summer session, the Nordic Summer University invites scholars, emerging researchers, urban practitioners, artists and creative industries specialists, institutional representatives and non-governmental sector activists to take part in a symposium organized by the NSU study circle Urban Studies: Between Creativity and Power. The symposium will offer an opportunity to take part in stimulating presentations and discussions to co-produce knowledge by sharing research and practical experiences and discovering innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to the everyday life in the city. 

Each event should produce a trace which can be shared with the larger community: NSU’s urban studies circle our eight other multi-disciplinary study circles, and the wider members of the oldest nomadic Nordic university of its kind (read more about the history of NSU here!).

Grants are available for creating the event and its trace. Traces can be made individually or together with other participants. (See more below)

What is a trace?

A trace is defined as the outcome of our Circle’s activities in the Summer Session 2020. A trace is documented and can be archived or presented as a form of evidence. A trace can have a variety of formats: it can be an article written or co-written by you or a discussion held among our Circle’s members, it can be a virtual meet-up or a localized interdisciplinary micro meet-up between members of different circles in a form that is permitted, an online podcast or interviews – you name it! The format is not restricted in any way; however, as coordinators we will organize a shortlisting procedure of the proposed traces. We will evaluate the potential outcome, creative and academic contribution, quality and shareability of the proposed trace.

The trace of your event with NSU needs to be:

●  produced by a single individual or group of participants.
●  sharable and open to all during the Summer Session time frame
●  fitting to NSU’s overall goals, aims and vision.
●  related to the circle’s theme – which you can read more about here
●  created with its main language English or a Scandinavian or Baltic language. ●  those who ultimately make the trace must be a member of NSU (this requires paying a small membership fee & participating in the democratic forum of NSU
●  the team or individual creating a trace needs to provide some promotion material considered as an INVITATION to the trace, before the Summer Session in July: picture & 200-500 words.
●  those who make a trace need to provide a brief report of the trace to their coordinator (the form will be provided by Board, including amount of participants, goals, etc) after the trace has been produced.

What is this year’s theme of the Circle?

Home and Belonging

From the NSU Archive. Find out more here!

The participants are invited to address the meaning of home, which is complex and multifaceted in the times of extended mobility and nomadic practices (migration, tourism, multiple homes, homelessness etc.). We see the current events of global pandemic COVID-19 as especially provoking environment to readdress the meaning and practices of home and belonging. Home as a construct has a deep emotional meaning and often intertwined with nostalgia emerging from childhood memories, feeling of comfort, privacy, attachment, security and belonging. Losing one’s home can feel like losing one’s self. However, home can also have conflicted or variable meanings presenting tensions, alienation and exclusion. Recently, home has also experienced certain transformations with all kinds of integrated media as, for example, can be evidenced in the “smart home/house” and the “home-office”, thus overlapping with other places and spaces. The topics of exploration include, but are not limited to: 

  1. what counts as home;
  2. how home is lived and experienced by people as a place
  3. the significance of home as a space;
  4. the accessibility/inaccessibility of home; 
  5. how power dynamics and socio-economic conditions impact the concept of  home;
  6. how technology can influence how and where we feel at home; 
  7. how home is gendered and contested.

How do I apply?

To submit a proposal of a Trace, please send it via email to the coordinators Laine Kristberga and Anete Ušča (circle1nsu@gmail.comby 31 May 2020:

  1. A written proposal (max. 350 words). This should include a title and a short description of the topic, its format and its outcome (add visual materials, if necessary);
  2. A short bio (max. 200 words).

The NEW deadline to submit proposals is 31 May 2020Accepted applicants will be informed by e-mail and a preliminary programme will be announced on http://nordic.university, where you can also find more information about NSU and sign up for the newsletter.

The accepted participants will be notified by the 15 June, including all the relevant details regarding the registration. 

Grants and Scholarships

A Trace will enable you to also receive a grant, which supports the creation of that trace. Each circle will be able to suggest 6 traces to be given a grant of 7000 Danish Krones for each trace. Traces can be made individually or together with other participants. In case we receive a large number of exciting proposals for the Traces, we will consider a possibility to split the grants in slightly smaller amounts, to encourage a greater diversity of projects. 

The participants will need to pay the Nordic Summer University’s annual membership fee. The membership fee facilitates the existence of the Nordic Summer University, which is a volunteer-based organisation. In the times of COVID-19, there are two optional choices: 

Annual membership fee: €25 

Annual membership fee: €10 

I still need inspiration…

To celebrate 70 years of NSU’s activism and scholarship, in 2019 we embarked upon a series of arts-research projects which reflected the history of NSU and wider expressions of ‘Nordic’ values. From print-making to sound art, to VR installations and performances, our ten artists have been using every artistic-research-method under the sun! CLICK HERE to see how they’ve been putting it all together.

You can also follow the Urban Studies circle here on Facebook.

MORE QUESTIONS!?

You can always visit our FAQ page.

CALL FOR ‘ARTISTIC RESEARCH’ TRACES

As part of our re-designed 2020 summer session, the Nordic Summer University invites artists and researchers from all fields to take part in our artistic research circle. We are a migratory, non-hierarchical group of international participants. We welcome participants from all geographical, artistic, cultural and academic contexts and backgrounds, both outside and within universities and other institutions. The circle aims to share ways artistic research can explore, experiment with, critique, create and perform heterotopias, which are spaces, temporalities and practices that disrupt the continuity and the norms of ordinary reality. We hope not only to engage with heterotopic concepts, but to be a heterotopic space.

Each event should produce a trace which can be shared with the larger community: NSU’s artistic research circle our eight other multi-disciplinary study circles, and the wider members of the oldest nomadic Nordic university of its kind (read more about the history of NSU here!).

Grants are available for creating the event and its trace. Traces can be made individually or together with other participants. (See more below)

What is a trace?

Traces could be: online workshops; local meetings; an online panel discussion of papers; a reading or performance; a shared of meal or walk together (considering the appropriate manner of physical interaction that is possible in the time and place where you are situated); presenting a piece of art, or another creative shared activity. You can also apply with more traditional forms of conference presentation, but we encourage you to choose a format that still allows a trace of your presentation: a workshop, experiment, exercise, or interactive dialogue; something that allows sharing.

The trace of your event with NSU needs to be:

●  produced by a single individual or group of participants.
●  sharable and open to all during the Summer Session time frame
●  fitting to NSU’s overall goals, aims and vision.
●  related to the circle’s theme – which you can read more about here
●  created with its main language English or a Scandinavian or Baltic language. ●  those who ultimately make the trace must be a member of NSU (this requires paying a small membership fee & participating in the democratic forum of NSU
●  the team or individual creating a trace needs to provide some promotion material considered as an INVITATION to the trace, before the Summer Session in July: picture & 200-500 words.
●  those who make a trace need to provide a brief report of the trace to their coordinator (the form will be provided by Board, including amount of participants, goals, etc) after the trace has been produced.

What is this year’s theme of the Circle?

Pleasure and Playfulness

After departing from Elsewhere, passing through Absences and Silences and arriving at Disorientations, this summer we wanted to ask about new beginnings through pleasure and playfulness. 

The global crisis intervened in our plans. But perhaps in these circumstances of increasing anxiety and isolation the topic is more necessary than ever.

At a time when all our habitual and familiar ways of communicating, interacting, moving, living and being are put into question, we want to find new forms of encounter and togetherness. 

We still see pleasure and playfulness as heterotopic states and modes of being and as forms of purposeful activity that can generate new knowledges. All our linear notions of time, space, embodiment and subjectivity are challenged at the moment. In what ways can we maintain our spaces as sites of pleasure and playfulness?

We are interested in pleasure and playfulness as strategies and processes not just of research but living in general. We’re interested in way that they give us access to knowledges and practices unapproachable by “serious” means. 

We want to embrace their lightness and follow the paths they open up towards multiplicity, plurality, indeterminacy and surprise. We are interested in their capacity to enable a response to disruptions of familiar categories and unsettlements of habitual practices and thoughts. We would like to explore their possibility as refusal and resistance, and their potential as liberation. 

We want to know how we can play with weighty and serious things, especially in times of crisis. We’d like to perform and improvise, and ask about performance and improvisation as activities using pleasure and play. 

We also want to provoke discussion about how we understand pleasure and playfulness, from whose perspective, according to whose experiences – and who is excluded. Whose pleasure matters and who is allowed to play? What kinds of exploitations and displacements are often behind our enjoyments and sites of pleasure? In what ways can pleasure and playfulness be forms of violence as well as knowledge and joy?

What is the format?

We encourage work in progress, incompleteness and unfinished work, partial and fragmented efforts, lost or missing elements, especially when they reflect on forms and uses of pleasure and engage in playful subversions. 

Our plan was to invite proposals taking departures from issues such as the following. We are still interested in pursuing these points and lines of thought, but with specific relevance to our current situation. What new meanings, significances, resonances, potentialities and powers can pleasure and playfulness take in times of crisis?

– pleasure and playfulness as methods and strategies of artistic research 

– the meaning of play and playfulness within artistic practice and research

– the role of pleasure in knowledge and practice

– the body and its relationship to pleasure and playfulness

– non-hierarchical and non-competitive forms of playfulness and play

– playfulness as a way of embodying plural selves and inhabiting multiple worlds

– pleasure and playfulness in performance and improvisation

– the role of pleasure and playfulness in challenging socio-political hierarchies

– feminist, decolonial and queer theories and approaches to pleasure and playfulness 

Our summer symposium will not be able to take place as a large physical meeting, but will instead happen in distant and dispersed formats of encounter, sharing and connection reflecting on and making use of pleasure and playfulness. This will take the form of small local or online gatherings, which produce traces that can be shared with a wider community. The aim is to enable new forms of sharing and find new possibilities to be a community.

Trace = event + documentation

Each trace will take the form of an event (in-person or online) that consists of a collective activity or multiple short contributions, documented by participants in a suitable way. 

How do I apply?

The deadline to submit proposals is 31 May.  

To apply, please submit the following via the online form

[http://nordic.university/study-circles/7-artistic-research-performing-heterotopia/pleasure-and-playfulness/summer2020-application]

1. A written proposal of no more than 350 words. 

This should include a title, a description of your proposed contribution or gathering, and its format.

and

2. A short bio in three sentences.

Offering grants to create traces

The Nordic Summer University is making funding available to produce the traces.We have a budget of approximately 5,000 Euros which will be divided between traces. The exact amounts will depend on the number of applicants and the types of proposals we receive. We would like to use the funds to enable as many participants to contribute as possible and will distribute them accordingly. The funding is intended to cover costs for events or as grants for people who are not securely employed and are in precarious financial situations.

As always, NSU is particularly interested in supporting people who are at the outskirts of the Nordic region – the Baltic and West-Nordic communities as well as those with special needs. So please do inform us if your application of a trace grant falls under the regional support or if the pandemic has had particular financial consequences to you. There is only a limited amount of grants available per circle, the deadline to apply is May 30th, 2020. When you are offered a grant to produce a trace, you will need to respond by email to accept the grant, otherwise it will be offered to the next person on the list.

I still need inspiration…

To celebrate 70 years of NSU’s activism and scholarship, in 2019 we embarked upon a series of arts-research projects which reflected the history of NSU and wider expressions of ‘Nordic’ values. From print-making to sound art, to VR installations and performances, our ten artists have been using every artistic-research-method under the sun! CLICK HERE to see how they’ve been putting it all together.

You can also follow the Artistic Research circle here on Facebook.

MORE QUESTIONS!?

You can always visit our FAQ page.

Closer

In a text submitted for one of the most recent anthologies to be published in the NSU context, Artistic Research: Being There (2018), I described at length a constellation of voices belonging to a few friends and co-creators I happened to be sharing a lodging with during springtime 2015, in Mooste, southeast Estonia.

I remember them as they sounded to me. Their voices together in that place, as a family of consonant sounds. John, soft spoken and quiet even in motion, almost all breath and no tone in his often lingering words. Evelyn, resonant and sharp in her mezzo-soprano harmony of briskness and warmth. Sebastian, a soundscape of crescendos in his open, inviting tone, words following thoughts, climbing and descending, always gathering strength for a higher peak. Luisa, the voice of a listener and a storyteller, with a quick, lithe and rich tone, and a confident hesitation that allows others’ voices to rest with hers. Ming, both tentative and booming, a hyper masculine and well-rounded baritone, at times undercut by breathless reticence. Elsie, their child’s voice vibrating in low shy clarity, reminded me of the subtle presence of a single glass marble rolling, swerving and throwing sparks of light. Kathleen, the voice of a speaker and a witness, combining coloratura of expression with matter-of-factness of punctuation. Myna, her tone paused and deeply rooted, balancing arresting sobriety with an undertone of flashing curiosity.

In the current phase of my anniversary project – Lived Anthologies – I have been thinking about voices a lot, because I am actively searching for speakers for vocal narration. There is so much to consider when thinking about a voice, it brings with it not only the whole body, but also a biographical aura, a cultural context, and the radical lived presence of an acoustic soul.

Soul. Hard to use this notion meaningfully nowadays, if not metaphorically or poetically. The ancient Greeks had a lot to say about the soul. At least one of them, in at least one book, discussed it as a chariot pulled by two horses. One horse was good, the other not so much. The uneven communion which is the human soul therefore would move much like a sinewave. Sometimes going up towards heaven, other times falling down to earth. Pulsing imperfectly, vibrating constantly. Like its Greek namesake, the butterfly (ψυχή). Like a voice.

When listening to someone’s voice, one is shaken. Literally. If it is a rattle or a sway, a quiver or a surge, a swell or a drop – the associations are lively and active when we become aurally engaged. To frame and fasten the voice, the right one for the task at hand – for the saying, telling, or singing even of the kind of truth inherent in a text – is not easy. And these are not poetic texts I am dealing with. These are science, most of them, in the sense that science is when it aims at making sense non-sensuously. Sense and sensuous are the key terms, and it is voice that bears the brunt of the task, the heaviest corner of the pilgrim’s icon throughout the procession.

So I listen and make choices, and layer sounds upon sounds, sounds under sounds, masking and enveloping, sometimes outright misleading, using all the tools available to create a sensorially rich aural scenography of meaning. From letter to utterance, from utterance to swelling composition, with a more than healthy pinch of constant doubt thrown in. It is the due owed to creative bringing forth. Hope you listen for it when its summer embodiment comes around for a visit.

Eduardo Abrantes, Copenhagen, March 9, 2020

Critical Selections

One of our artists, Guilia Mangione, let us into her process:

“For my project Oleana I decided to work with analog film photography. The process is a bit lengthy but, in my opinion, totally worthy. In my working flow I alternate digital and analogue techniques to reach the final print. After the rolls of film have been developed by the photo lab, I usually go to the darkroom to make some contact sheets. On these prints I can see small reproductions of the entire negative on one sheet of photosensitive paper. Through these, I make a rough selection of the images I think are more interesting or better framed, and mark them. After that I move to the digital lab and I scan the images I selected in high resolution in order to see them in large size on my computer screen. After making the very final selection, I go back to the darkroom and print only the one image from one shooting session that I think looks best.”

NSU’s Archive is a treasure trove of impressions – unexpected photos, books, leaflets, costumes and documents. If only we could have had Guilia’s process throughout the years of our history: a slow, considered look at the flickering pieces of the past, making it possible to delicately select the most powerful piece to keep in the collection.

Archivists: How on earth do you choose what stays and what goes?

EŦNICITY INC. And the saami people

“By turning names into things we create false models of reality. By endowing nations, societies or cultures with the qualities of internally homogenous and externally distinctive and bounded objects, we create a model of the word as a global pool hall in which the entities spin off each other like so many hard and round billiard balls.”

Eric Wolf from Europe and the People Without History

The sculpture EŦNICITY INC.  (or ethnicity incorporated) is an eclectic piece designed to question the impact of the very notion of ethnicity. It attempts to recontextualise the concept itself and its material impact on the conditions of the living. Indeed, ethnicity as a concept has served as a tool for externally categorizing and arranging people in the present and the past, within evolutionary, ethnocentric, colonialist and racist frameworks. It also serves as a political weapon, both giving weight to nationalist rhetoric but also serving as a defensive legal tool for indigenous minorities’ rights to self-determination and protection of land; although, as we will see later, it too often fails to protect these very people, their ecosystems or resources.

At first glance, the sculpture is a bust: the canonically “western” format for representing a human individual endowed with some form of authority or power, it is almost always a political artifact. Here though, instead of a classical bust, the sculpture is an anthropomorphized spoon: the Saami spoon; recognizable by its short handle, pear shaped bowl, the hoops and rings on its sides and the decorative carvings. The saami spoon, both in archeology and in contemporary material culture, has been an effigy for saami “ethnicity”. Indeed, the saami people in the history of archeology have constantly been conceptualized as the “other”, they are seen as “ethnic” while the majority group of the Swedes are regarded as “non-ethnic”. They are the norm, the civilization, whereas the saami became a people without history, an ethnographic object, static and unchangeable. Where the saami spoon has become this intemporal effigy or artifact of saami ethnicity, its origins point in fact to diverse origins. Moreover, the evolution of the spoon is intertwined with other histories, inner socio-cultural struggles of the saami people and its place in a wider economic frame of markets.

The sculpture is designed to be observed from top to bottom. Indeed, the pseudo-realist portrait is the first thing that calls our attention. The portrait is a phantasm of the Saami “ethnic” physionomy; it materializes the inherent racism of associating physical traits to a kind of ethnic “geist” or essence. Its eyes are closed, becoming only a screen devoid of any inherent meaning. The meaning does not come from within but is projected onto it by the gaze of the one looking. Going further down along the handle or neck, we only see a decorative piece of furnture, the true meaning of the sculpture lies further down still in the bowl of the spoon, the part that is designed to bring the sustenance. The concavity of the bowl is placed in lieue of the convexity of the belly. In this sort of cave, we can then see engravings of pictogramms that reveal the true story at play.

The story is one of people devided by arbitrary borders, but also ecosystems cut-off by roads, pipelines, traintracks, etc. The people are alone and, in the center, you find the sea and an offshore deepwater drilling station. This one specifically is the Snohvit platform, a particular point of contention between the interests of big oil industry capitalists and the indigenous populations who also depend on the resources of the sea to maintain their mode of living. On each side of the platform is inscribed C. 169 – a reference to the Convention 169 of the Organization of the United Nations – concerning the rights of native and tribal people in independent countries. One of the articles states that governments need to take measures in cooperation with these people to protect and preserve the environment that they inhabit.

In the end, this artifact serves as a direct criticism of  the commodification of culture and identity in the framework of neoliberal capitalism. It materializes the hypocrisy of paying lip service to alterity and “ethnic tokenism” so long as it can be consumed in one way or another and so long as their liberties do not infringe on the interests of capital. This last part is emphasized by the presence of the title of the sculpture engraved in its back like the brand of an item of clothing, it is incorporated. It is quite literaly just paying lip service to the actual living culture, turning it into a brand : the saami Ŧ (th), itself already a product of acculturation, the saami culture not having originally had an alphabetical system of writing. To finish with a quote from Denise Ferreira Da Silva:

“On the one hand, there are those governed by interior motives and capable of self-determination and, on the other, those prone to exterior affectability. As a result, those “affectable subjects” are destined to be governed by a force external to them, be it the sovereign God of Christ, sovereign reason of enlightnement or the sovereign Nation State of modern geopolitical order, they are always situated in the waiting room for the exercise of freedom.”

Resources :

People, material culture and environment in the north. Proceedings of the 22nd Nordic Archaeological Conference-GUMMERUS KIRJAPAINO (2006)

Toward a global Idea of Race. Denise Ferreira Da Silva (2007)

The Climate of History, Four Theses. Dipesh Chakrabarthy (2009)

Emerging from shelves

The largest part of the research has been done… collecting all the different study circle programs from all the years that the Nordic Summer University has been active. Seventy years of data, in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. Only since 2013 were all the (titles) of the study circles in English. This month Sara Wengström helped me to translate all the study circle programs into English, so over the next months I can start analysing and write up my findings, to present at the Summer Session 2020 in Norway. 

Nicole des Bouvrie, Dec 2019

reflecting on a tumultuous past – with the University Histories blog!

We’re thrilled to have explored our history, and how Arts/Research is boosting our archiving, with the University Histories blog from the University of Manchester. #NordicnessInMotion

70 Years of Activism, Research and History with the Nordic Summer University — University Histories