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Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing (2018) was a performing arts production by Pia Maria Roll, Hanan Benammar, Sara Baban and Marius von der Fehr.

Pia Maria Roll directed it.

In the production, video images of Norwegian elite politicians', opinion formers' and business leader's houses were used, leading to heated discussion in the media after the opening. Actress Sara Baban received threats she reported to the police.

Ways of Seeing was nominated for The Hedda Award 2019 in the production of the year category.

Information

(Objekt ID 88766)
Object type Production
Premiere Navember 21, 2018
Produced by ,
Coproducers Black Box Teater
Audience Adults, Youth
Language Norwegian
Expressions Theatre, Political Theatre
Running period Navember 21, 2018  
Website Black Box Teater
More

At the webpage of Black Box Teater, the following, among other things, was written about Ways of Seeing (partly differing versions in Norwegian and English-language texts, the first two paragraphs are translated by Lillian Bikset for this Sceneweb entry):

"Pia Maria Roll/Hanan Benammar/Sara Baban/Marius von der Fehr have mapped the networks which interest is in making Norway a more racist society. Who are they, and what do they achieve by it? And what is the connection between this community and a steadily louder yell for more surveillance?

In Ways of Seeing they move into the grey area between right and wrong, legitimate and illegitimate, legal and illegal: For the national government, and for the individual. On the journey they are joined by former Supreme Court justice Ketil Lund, who led the investigation of the Norwegian government's illegal surveillance of the left.

(From here on, the text quoted by Sceneweb is as published at Black Box Teater's English-language page, only corrected for spelling mistakes.)

Hanan B leaves France. It is 2012, the same year that the National Front does its most successful election ever. Jean-Marie Le Pen had been an intelligence officer and torturer in the French colonial war in Algeria, where Hanan's father, Halim, fought on the side of the revolution. Now, after years of determined political work, Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen, has managed to convince the French public that the colonial 'war of civilization' has moved on to European soil. That we have to prevent a Muslim takeover of France will now be understood as the most important political undertaking. France adopts emergency laws and imposes a rigorous monitoring of the Muslim population, and in the years to come the National Front becomes one of the strongest driving forces of the extreme right-wing movement as it spreads across Europe. Hanan moves to Norway, just to realize that Le Pen's agenda has hit deep roots there too. In Oslo she meets Sara B, who fled from Saddam Hussein's US-backed war against the Kurds in the 80es, and who knows a lot about the connections between surveillance, racism and horror.

Together with former Supreme Court judge Ketil Lund and a deeply beloved ghost, they embark on a journey through the root systems of power. At the same time NATO is planning that their largest military exercise ever is to be carried out on Norwegian soil."

SOURCES:

Black Box Teater, www.blackbox.no, 24.09.2018, http://www.blackbox.no/tittel/ways-of-seeing/

Black Box Teater, www.blackbox.no, 03.12.2018, http://www.blackbox.no/en/tittel/ways-of-seeing/

Import from the Scenekunst.no list of openings 24.09.2018

The Hedda Award, www.heddaprisen.no, 16.10.19, https://www.heddaprisen.no/nominerte/2019

Performance dates
Festivals (1)
Press coverage

Per Christian Selmer-Anderssen, Når venstrevridde performanceartister gjemmer seg i tujahekken (literally: When leftist performance artists hide in the thuja hedge), Aftenposten November 23 2018:

"Sure, I'll admit it. I entered Pia Maria Roll's and Marius von der Fehr's performance Ways of seeing with certain prejudices. I know that they use a rather provocative form of guerrilla theatre to promote their leftist radical opinions. In addition, I had read the text about the performance, where it says that they 'have mapped the networks interested in making Norway a more racist society. Who are they and what do they achieve? And what is the connection between this community and an increasingly louder yell for more surveillance?' They don't find the answers to any of these questions. Possibly not so strange, as this is a gang who thinks that they already have all the answers and who will not, at any cost, examine the arguments against. On the other hand, they create a highly problematic, visually beautiful and - incredibly enough and possibly involuntarily - a nuanced performance."

Julie Rongved Amundsen, Ikke tid til apati (literally: No time for apathy), Klassekampen November 23 2018:

"Hanan and Sara fall asleep outside Helge Lurås' house, and by the investor Jan Haudemann-Andersen's abnormally large house, they find an indentation in the ground and stay for three days. I don't know if this is true. It doesn't matter if it is, because it is sufficiently interesting to make me wonder. (…) Despite of many repetitions and many houses to be visited – belonging to surprisingly similar people – the dramaturgy is tight, and it never becomes boring. Still, I am left with some questions I would have liked them to answer better. Because I don't understand why they visit all these houses. There is not much recognition in these experiences. The first time a recognition is presented, I have to look at my watch, and I see that an hour and a half of the performance have gone by. Ways of seeing is well-made documentary theatre, but when few questions are raised, and few problems discussed, and much is just shown off, I feel a well-known apathy grab hold of me."

Inger Marie Kjølstadmyr, Vil ryste staten (literally: Wants to shake up the state), Dagsavisen November 26 2018:

"With Hanan and Sara and a ghost (Ali Djabbary) we spy on the houses of several of the richest persons in Norway - people who finance or work for the Frp party, Human Rights Service and Resett. Networks interested in making Norway a more racist society. On a huge screen, video of houses and gardens belonging to people including Tor Mikkel Wara, Christian Tybring-Gjedde, Helge Lurås, Monica Staff and finally, crowning this rather fascinating image work, the castle of Rimi-owner Hagen. Hege Storhaug's house was never found. For half a year, the two women have lied outside of different gardens, put houses under surveillance and filmed, they say, and one day, as they lie there in a pile of leaves, they meet Ketil Lund, who wonders what they are doing. And then, in a grandfather-like tone, a bit stiff and possibly not very used to being onstage, he connects Sara and Hanan's project to his own work for the Lund commission. We get to know quite some about Norwegian surveillance history, some of it known, much of it new, but nothing shocks me. And the whole thing makes Sara and Hanan's garden project seem rather innocent and charming, though this was likely not the intention."

Ketil Lund, Ryggmargsrasisme? (literally: Backbone racism?), Klassekampen November 28 2018:
"The play casts two refugees and one immigrant in leading roles, two women and one man, all of whom have their backgrounds from disturbingly fascistoid and racist colonialism and authoritarian regimes. They come to Norway in the hope of finally experiencing freedom, equality and dignity. This is not what happens. Here, the misanthropic racism is present in all its expressed and subtle varieties, fired up by active and strategic competent racist propaganda, financed by extremely rich investors. Racism and the corresponding lack of security is everywhere, strengthened by surveillance's chronic emphasis on Muslim terror and extremism as the greatest threat against the safety of the kingdom (and its rich kings). This leads the two women to a project where they want to place their bodies as close as possible to the houses of those behind the racist propaganda machine, because 'at home is where we feel the safest'. Little of this seems to interest the reviewer. Indeed, she simply doesn't understand the women's project."

Camilla Heiervang, - Ubehagelig at de griper inn i privatlivet mitt (literally: Uncomfortable that they infiltrate my private life), Aftenposten November 28 2018:

"Head of the theatre, Anne-Cécile Sebué-Birkeland at Black Box Teater, understands that the performance can feel uncomfortable.
- My assignment is choosing artists who promote topical, important societal themes, and who also challenge genres and artistic means. This includes touching at what may hurt, but provocation is not a purpose in itself, Sebué-Birkeland says.
- Some experience this as infiltration of their private spheres. What is your take on this?
- The performance deals with what is legal and illegal. If one hasn't seen the piece, one may have the impression that those in question are more exposed than they really are, Sebué-Birkeland says."

Laila A. Bertheussen, De kaller det kunst, jeg kaller det en grov invasjon av mitt privatliv (literally: They call it art, I call it a rude invasion of my private life), VG December 1 2018:

"There they stand, on private ground, covertly filming while I am at home. They film the living room window and the bedroom window, and there, inside, am I. I, who have never willingly gone public in anything. I, who have always appreciated my anonymity. They are invaders and I have no option to defend myself. Had I known that they were there, I would obviously have had them removed. Through the spring and the summer my beloved work almost around the clock for the sake of us who live in this small country. Meanwhile, a gang of 'artists' sit sewing together a falsification where he, the best of us all, is written into their absurd world with suggestions that he is a racist and Nazi. They call it art, I call it a rude invasion of my private life."

Steinar Solås Suvatne, Teaterstykke kaller Frp-ere rasister. Men partiet freder millionstøtta (literally: Theatre piece calls members of Frp racists. But the party protects the million support), Dagbladet December 2 2018:

"Several members of Frp are furious at the Black Box theatre. The party now has decided to protect the public funds for the theatre. - Of course we won't actively seek to reduce the support for this theatre, Morten Wold (Frp) tells Dagbladet.
- That is not how we work. Frp supports the freedom of expression and the right to freely express oneself artistically, but we have questioned whether it was necessary for the theatre to go as far as they did this time. I think that is a timely question, he adds.
Wold, who is the Frp party's spokesman for culture, is talking of the piece Ways of Seeing, performed at Black Box in Oslo. In this play, video recordings of the houses of parliament member Christian Tybring-Gjedde (Frp) and minister of justice, public security and immigration Tor Mikkel Wara (Frp), among others, are shown. The two are among several who are labelled racists in the play. As Dagbladet reported, one of the actors have received serious threats after the piece was criticised by Frp associates."

Awards - Nominations (1)