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Wish

 
  Presented September 15th 2018 during Bergen International Performance Festival as a part of the project "History Will Be Kind To Me For I Intend To Perform It"

Performers Dino Dikic, Christoffer Bo Rasmussen and Petter Lønningen.
Photo: Bjarte Bjørkum

Text by Jennie Klein.

Björn’s Wish was a subtle and melancholy performance that hinted at failed relationships, missed opportunities, and weltschmerz. Björn, who recently completed his Master’s of Fine Art from the University of Bergen, Norway in 2017, uses performance to interrogate constructions of masculinity, intimacy, violence, and popular culture. In much of his work, Björn questions and undermines hegemonic constructions of masculinity and the male body. His performances enact vulnerability and alternate identities, pointing to different ways of understanding what it means to be a biological male in the 21st century.

An interesting aspect of Björn’s work is that he often contracts other performers, rather than using his own body. Björn’s use of delegated performers (who are renumerated, rather than asked to “volunteer”), prevents the audience from reading his work as an extension of his own subjectivity. Björn’s performances seem to be deeply personal, and yet, through his use of contracted performers, Björn prevents the overidentification that often happens between the performer and the audience.

Björn often references iconic performances such as Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece or Valie Export’s and Peter Weibel’s Aus Der Mappe der Hundigkeit. With Wish, however, Björn was more interested in the use of text to convey a message. Influenced by Barbara Kruger, who layers text over images to expose the way in images of women are used to reinforce hegemony, Björn chose to foreground the use of text in Wish. Over the course of about 45 minutes, three performers mourned a failed relationship by literally inscribing that failure on the walls and onto the body of one of the performers.

Using blue paint, one performer wrote “I wish I could start over. I wish you could start over. I wish we could start over,” on the wall of the space. At the same time, another performer’s body was being painted with “I wish we were NoBodys,” a radical abnegation that seemed to eradicate the identity of the man who did the painting and the man who was painted. According to Björn, NoBody also references Odysseus when he responds “I am Nobody” to the Cyclops. The use of NoBody, with a capital N and B, thus suggests disembodiment. It suggests as well the unhinging of the connection between the corporeal and the psychic. There is no body, he is nobody, the body, in spite of the text, remains illegible.

Wish, like much of Björn’s work, implies the futility of existence and the emptiness of longing. A study in thwarted desire, disappointing endings, and subjectivities/identities that were at the end of the line, Wish was both poignant and painful.