Talk at Khartoum Contemporary Art Center: "Performing Queer Resistance".

Talk at Khartoum Contemporary Art Center: "Performing Queer Resistance".
I am lucky enough to have been invited to speak on Monday Nov. 19th at "Open Forum", which is a student run initiative from the Academy of Fine Art in Oslo that runs at Khartoum Contemporary Art Center (KCAC). If you're in the area we'd love to see you there. 

I'll be talking about "Performing Queer Resistance".
Thinking along with the social, artistic and political potential of queer performance art.

social (in) justice
mis (communication)
(in) action
in (ex) clusion
(sub) cultural mainstreaming 

Mary Coble is a gender queer artist and educator at Valand Art Academy who will discuss queer strategies of resistance through artistic practice and activism. The talk will include examples from Coble’s current research project Gestures of Defiance, which looks at symbols of protests such as the raised fist, as well as uses of tactical frivolity (such as glitter bombing or drag). Through live work and multimedia installations - including photography, video, sound and sculpture - Coble aims to manifest problems of bodily, societal and symbolic navigation particularly focusing on issues of injustice and normative boundaries. Recurrent themes in Coble’s work revolve around queer politics, poetics and histories, and the projects are often site-specific, research-based and - from time to time – collective and participatory.

Free soup: 18:00
Talk: 19:00
Khartoum are open 18:00-01:00

Event image:
Performing Defiance (2016), Documentation from the live performance 
Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo by Kerstin Bergendal

Join the "PULSE (Gothenburg)" Workshop and Performance

Join the "PULSE (Gothenburg)" Workshop and Performance
On November 10th, 2018 in Gothenburg, Sweden my performance PULSE (Gothenburg). will happen from 19:00-20:00. I am inviting collaborators to join in the perfomance by attending a workshop at Röda Sten Konsthall in preparation.  

Workshop dates are:
Sunday November 4th from 15-18:00
Wednesday November 7th from 17-20:00.

Collaborators only need to attend one workshop to prepare for the performance. As a collaborator you are also an ambassador for the project so once a workshop is attended you can also invite friends to join in participating in the performance.  

During this workshop we will discuss current responses to the Swedish election results and other political urgencies felt by us living in and around Gothenburg. Together we will come up with a series of ‘chants’ that we would like to send out during the performance on November 10th.  Mary will talk about the concept of PULSE and we will practice sending Morse Code light signals. As a collaborative gesture of solidarity PULSE merges activist and nautical language to amplify a collective call for action. This is also the aim of PULSE (Gothenburg)
No experience with Morse Code is necessary nor will you be required to learn it. 

The workshop will be in English and Swedish. 

You can register for one of the workshops by emailing Ola at: We await with coffee and cake!
In 2016, over 10 nights Coble climbed the Cinesphere in Toronto, CA, (a large structure that houses the first permanent IMAX theater in North America) to repurpose it as a beacon of protest. A series of Morse Code messages where transmitted from the structure to receiver collaborators on the ground positioned throughout Ontario Place island who then relay the message on using their own light source. The transmitted messages are composed of statements and chants used in recent and current protests and fights for civil rights selected from the artist’s archive reflecting a connection between past and current struggles.
PULSE was created in recognition of the lives lost and forever changed at the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida (2016).

Discussions with artists from "Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!"

Discussions with artists from "Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!"
Here is a short video from "Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!" an exhibition at Röda Sten Konsthall with works also by fantastic artists Annika Lundgren, Felipe Mujica, Joar Nango and Carla Zaccagnini, curated by Mariangela Méndez Prencke.

Radical Empathy: A Continuous Score

Radical Empathy: A Continuous Score
Radical Empathy: A Continuous Score taking place on Friday Oct 26th, at 17:00 on Olof Palmes Plats, Gothenburg, Sweden. 
This is an ongoing project that I am working on with friends and fellow artists/teachers Jeuno Kim, Kjell Caminha and Andreas Engman. We have been working for over a year now on various projects together including This is a call to action which was a set of manifestations/ discussions and gatherings which was first prompted by the Nordic Resistance Movement's crowning presence in Gothenburg.
Radical Empathy: A Continuous Score is another call to action against the intensifying normalization of fascism that litters the public spaces and shape imaginaries. The aim is to initiate contexts for collective experience, demonstration, and dialogue, insisting on vigilance and direct process as a dramaturgical method. Radical Empathy: A Continuous Score will manifest in Olof Palmes Plats to re-activate a site that was recently populated by groups from all shades of the political spectrum including an SD manifestation, which triggered our performative scoring.
This is a part of a larger series of events organized and presented by artist-educators working in Fine Art at Valand Academy. Take a look at all the great events happening and come if you can!  
You can find our more about our performance and the other works that will be happening here on Valand's website:

"Blood Script" included in an exhibition: The Flowers of Evil at Państwowa Galeria Sztuki (National Gallery of Art/Sopot, Poland)

"Blood Script" included in an exhibition:  The Flowers of Evil at Państwowa Galeria Sztuki (National Gallery of Art/Sopot, Poland)
The Flowers of Evil

opening: 28th of September, 19.30
exhibition: 29 September – 13 January 2019
Curators: Małgorzata Kaźmierczak, Arti Grabowski

Artists: Przemysław Branas, Mary Coble, Deborah Castillo, Dariusz Fodczuk, Nadia Granados, Moshtari Hilal, Fatimah Jawdat, Aleksandra Kubiak, Cecylia Malik/Kolektyw Matki Polki na Wyrębie, Yasmeen Mjalli, Erika Ordos, Bartłomiej Otocki, Petr Pavlensky, Jacek Piotrowicz, Mariusz Sołtysik, Katia Tirado, Mariusz Waras, Andrzej Wasilewski, Monika Zawadzki.

The dichotomy indicated in the title of Charles Baudelaire’s volume of poetry, The Flowers of Evil, is highly evocative. Flowers, commonly seen as beautiful, delicate and vulnerable are contrasted with broadly conceived evil, ignominy, crime, humiliation, and death. The title provokes multiple interpretations. It can symbolise the pursuit of beauty in ugliness as well as focus on the attractiveness and enticing power of evil. According to Małgorzata Kosmala, “For Baudelaire evil is the founding principle of the world; it splits being into two parts, the ideal … and the real, where the human being operates”.[1] Creating “flowers of evil” means writing beautiful poems about all things corrupt and vile. A question arises about the vocation of the artist in the world. “The role of the artist is to soar above the tangible reality, his fate inevitably that of a messenger living in permanent misery, aware of the exile since no beauty of the real world can measure up to the ideal. Searching for eternal beauty, the artist is then doomed to suffering and insatiability, to transcending all boundaries, even those of good and evil”, continues the same author.[2] 
The title of the exhibition, The Flowers of Evil, is at the same time the title of Andrzej Wasilewski’s installation (Le fleur du mal). The artist processes data downloaded from the Internet; thanks to a special interface they “set in motion” an installation of artificial flowers. Making use of this classic title, the artist moreover followed the thinking of Jean Baudrillard, author of The Intelligence of Evil, or the Lucidity Pact, and of the idea of simulacra. In Andrzej Wasilewski’s installation the data are grouped within categories: Population, Mortality, Human interference with the natural environment, Energy production and consumption, Food, Economy, and Crime. The artists taking part in the show make statements about the risks they can identify. Inspired by the title, they refer to violence, war, environmental degradation, enslavement by political regimes, homophobia, xenophobia, and racism. Most of the works were made specifically for this exhibition, the bulk of them documenting the art of performance, one whose form is especially conducive to taking a stand on the topical issues of the day.
“Art is but an idea, prostitutionalised by its realisation”, wrote the author of The Lucidity Pact.[3] Such a statement is highly provokative. Baudrillard implies that contemporary art flourishes on a landfill. Our aim was to create a beautiful image of this landfill.
/Małgorzata Kaźmierczak/

[1] Małgorzata Kosmala, “O estetyce Charlesa Baudelaire'a”, Biesiada (2004).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil, or the Lucidity Pact, transl. Chris Turner, Bloomsbury, London 2013, p. 83.

"We are here" raises 5600SEK for No Human is Illegal/Ingen Människa är Illega (Gothenburg) as of Sept. 18th, 2018

"We are here" raises 5600SEK for No Human is Illegal/Ingen Människa är Illega (Gothenburg) as of Sept. 18th, 2018
I’m currently included in Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire! an exhibition
at the Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg Sweden with three works-We are here, PULSE (Gothenburg) and a live performance PULSE (Gothenburg) that takes place on November 10th.
The photographic installation We are here (2017/18) is 269, A3 images on found wood.  It’s based on traces from the Women’s March on Washington held in Washington, DC on January 21, 2017.  This was an intersectional march organized and led by women that occurred the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. This work reflects my meticulous, on foot, documentation of the fences surrounding the White House as marchers piled their protest signs around the parameter. 
The individual pieces of We are here can be moved around in the Röda Sten Konsthall and can be exchanged for 200 SEK and potentially reactivated in another context.  During the final week of the exhibition the photographs can be taken from the space and the money will be donated to No Human is Illegal/Ingen Människa är Illega (Gothenburg)
 “The No One is Illegal Network (Ingen människa är illegal in Swedish) works  to provide practical support to people who are forced to live undocumented after having had their applications for asylum refused. We demand permanent right of residence for all people who have arrived in Sweden and wish to remain. We believe in a world without borders, a world where no one is illegal.”

As of Tuesday Sept. 18th, 2018 over 5600SEK has been raised that will be donated to No Human is Illegal/Ingen Människa är Illega (Gothenburg) and the exhibtion doesn't close until Nov. 18th so there is even more time to up this amount.  

"Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!", Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden

"Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!", Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden
I will have the works PULSING, Gothenburg, We are here and the live performance PULSE, Gothenburg included in "Ingen rök utan eld. Shout Fire!" an exhibition at Röda Sten Konsthall with works also by fantastic artists Annika Lundgren, Felipe Mujica, Joar Nango and Carla Zaccagnini, curated by Mariangela Méndez Prencke.

Opening Sept. 1st-Nov. 18th 

1 pm: Opening words. Director Mia Christersdotter Norman welcomes you. Curator Mariangela Méndez Prencke introduces the exhibition.
2.30 pm: Performance, "United We Stand", by Annika Lundgren.
3.30 pm: Artist talk with the participation of all the artists in the exhibition.
Röda Sten Konsthall opens at 12 noon.


An interview about my exhibition "Acting in Numbers" with a Danish online art journal: En queer kunstners call to arms

Mary Cobles udstilling Acting in Numbers sætter fokus på social uretfærdighed og protesten som en livsbekræftende, kreativ og nødvendig kraft. Ud fra sin egen position som anerkendt queer kunstner undersøger Coble spændingsfeltet mellem kunst og politisk aktion, performance og fotografi, den personlige erfaring og det at udtrykke den kunstnerisk. Det er både en tændt megafon lige i øret og en stille opfordring til at lege med.

Den usikre kommunikation
Jeg er lidt nervøs, da jeg skal møde Mary Coble en torsdag sidst på eftermiddagen. Selvom jeg som humanist og moderne blød mand kan tilskrive mig de fleste feministiske målsætninger, kan jeg som hvid mand alligevel ikke undgå at være en smule nervøs for, at kunstneren, hvis performances indeholder blækløs tatovering (Timeline of Disruption (2016) og Blood Script (2008)) og gaffatape på huden (Binding Ritual (2005)), ser rødt i mødet med intervieweren, fordi han ved sin blotte mandighed repræsenterer patriarkiet.
Sådan er Mary Coble heldigvis ikke, og mine egne fordomsfuldheder er måske et fint udtryk for, hvorfor Cobles udstilling er vigtig. Hendes målsætning er langt fra at skælde ud eller løfte pegefingre, men derimod at invitere alle ind til en kunstnerisk oplevelse, der udspringer af en queer erfaring og henter inspiration i forskellige protestformer. Om udstillingen hos Galleri Image siger Coble:
“Der skal både være noget, der trækker, og noget, der skubber. Noget, der får dig til at træde et skridt tilbage, men ikke får dig til at løbe helt ud af døren. Jeg vil gerne skubbe på, men jeg vil også gerne fastholde dig, fordi jeg har noget, jeg vil kommunikere videre, noget, som jeg vil have en dialog omkring. Jeg vil ikke skrige ad dig og få dig til at løbe væk.”

Mary Coble: Timeline of Disruption, 2016. Foto: Louise Wolthers
Kunstnerisk stræber Mary Coble efter det uforudsigelige, det mislykkede og det rodede, fordi disse begreber for hende udtrykker en queer erfaring. En erfaring, som udfoldes i performances som Performing Defiance (2015), hvor Coble med en løftet næve hoppede for at banke til et stort sejl fyldt med glitter, og Timeline of Disruption, hvor kunstneres blod via bestemte bevægelser på papir formede en ikke-lineær, queer tidslinje, der også kan ses på udstillingen.
I sin performances PULSE (2016) og PULSING (2018) undersøger Coble en fejlbarlig kommunikation med morsekoder, der på samme tid er en let tilgængelig kommunikationsform og umiddelbart uforståelig for de fleste.
“Jeg kan godt lide det rum eller det øjeblik, hvor det er muligt at kommunikere, men hvor fejlkommunikation og fiasko også er en mulighed.”
Mary Coble siger selv, at tiltrækningen til morsekoden kommer af “at tænke igennem en queer-feministisk linse, hvor tingene godt må være lidt ved siden af, men stadigvæk fungerer. Det må godt være anderledes. Og så kan jeg godt lide ideen om, at morsekoden kan være en lyd, eller den kan være visuel. Der er mange muligheder i det – hvis du har nøglen til at forstå det.”

Mary Coble: PULSE, 2016. Foto: Henry Chan
Bevæggrunden for PULSE var masseskyderiet i Orlando i 2016, hvor 50 mennesker blev dræbt og endnu flere såret på Pulse – en natklub for homoseksuelle. Coble valgte at lade en enkelt projektør pulsere slagord i form af morsekoder ud til deltagerne, som herefter blinkede dem videre ud i samfundet. Performancen er et godt eksempel på, hvordan Cobles værker starter som en reaktion på eller imod noget og gennem performance og billeder finder vej ind i galleriet.
Om at komprimere tid
Og der er langt fra den forlystelsespark i Toronto, hvor Cobles performance PULSE fandt sted, til et galleri i Vestergade i Aarhus. Det tætteste, man som publikum kommer på at opleve performancen, er installationen PULSING, der blinker kodede slagord ud til det aarhusianske gadeliv – ellers må vi nøjes med fotografier. Men for Coble er fotografierne i udstillingen mere end bare dokumentation for overståede performances.

Mary Coble: PULSING, 2018, i Galleri Image på Vestergade i Aarhus. Foto: Mary Coble
“I en performance kan jeg reflektere over modstand og protester og handlinger, der måske kan vare flere år. Jeg reflekterer over eller gennemgår de år i halvanden time. Så der er referencer til en tidshorisont, der går langt ud over det enkelte værk. På den måde er performancen en komprimeret tidslig oplevelse. Og fotografiet gør på en måde det samme. Det viser et bestemt øjeblik, men kan på samme tid referere til noget, der strækker sig langt ud over øjeblikket.“
Samtidig med, at det både komprimerer tiden og strækker den ud, er fotografiet en æstetisering af den rodethed og uforudsigelighed, der er en integreret del af Cobles performances.
Protesten fortsætter i galleriet
Selvom fotografier kan synes ufarlige i forhold til en performance, arbejder Coble med, hvordan følelsen af rodethed og energien fra protesten kan penetrere gallerirummet og stadig bibeholde kunst og protest som to forskellige sfærer.
“Det er måske her, der kan opstå komplikationer. Altså når man æstetiserer protesten for eksempel, eller når man tager noget, der i virkeligheden er mest potent, når det finder sted på gaden, og rykker ind i galleriet – så kan det blive problematisk. Og det er en af farerne, jeg reflekterer over, som jeg er bekymret over, men som jeg også forsøger at lege med.”

Mary Coble: We are here, 2017, i Galleri Image. Foto: Ask Hastrup
For Mary Coble er protesten en særpræget og unik måde at tænke og udtrykke en queer erfaring. En erfaring, som omvendt også fordrer protest og modstand, og som åbner op for at tænke udenom konventionelle baner. I galleriet ses det ukonventionelle bl.a. i serien We are here (2017), hvor Coble opfordrer besøgende til at flytte rundt med billederne af protestskilte. For Coble er roden til det ukonventionelle tydelig.
“Jeg tror, det kommer ud af en queer erfaring af nødvendigheden af at tænke anderledes eller det at være anderledes. Det åbner nye muligheder, men nogle gange gennemtvinger det også nye muligheder, fordi man ikke kan passe ind og er nødt til at prøve på en anden måde.”
Coble tøver ikke med at sige, at udstillingen er politisk, men insisterer på, at der sker en transformation af protesten, når den bearbejdes kunstnerisk. Det er protest i kunstnerisk form fra en queer position, rodet og uforudsigeligt, og selvom det foregår på et galleri er det med Cobles ord “en opfordring til handling.”
På udstillingen Acting in Numbers præsenterer Coble fem serier: Performing Defiance, PULSETimeline of DisruptionOne Movementog We are here foruden installationen PULSING.
Mary Coble er opvokset i North Carolina, USA. Hun er uddannet fra The George Washington University i Washington, DC.
Coble har undervist på forskellige kunstneriske institutioner i USA, bl.a. på The George Washington University og Maryland Institute College of Arts i Baltimore, Maryland.
Mellem 2011-2014 arbejdede Coble som underviser ved Det Fynske Kunstakademi. I dag bor hun i Göteborg og arbejder ved Valand Academy of Art, Göteborg Universitet.

New Collaborative Performance

New Collaborative Performance
Over the past week I have been teaching a workshop "Performance as Political Assembly" at the Jutland Art Academy. Together, with the workshop participants -Sara Arenfeldt (from the Funen Art Academy), Jakob Niedziela (from the Umeå Academy of Fine Arts), Nicolai Nielsen (from the Bergen Academy of Art and Design) and Timo Viialainen (from the University of the Arts Helsinki) we have developed a performance that we will test out at the opening of the seminar I've organized "Acting in Numbers:  Performance, Photography and Activism".

We've worked super hard together, had great conversations and look forward to sharing this with a live audience! 


I talked with the folks from Fine Spind about "Acting in Numbers", my exhibition at Galleri Image. Check it out and check them out...good stuff happening there!