Bjørn Venø

A summer residency in Moskosel

During the whole month of August, the artist Bjørn Venø will conduct a research residency in Moskosel, at Northern Sustainable Futures headquarters.

When. August 2019
Where.  Moskosel, Arvidsjaur kommun
Organizers. Northern Sustainable Futures and Resurscentrum för konst (ArtNorth) 

Who. Bjørn Venø, Norwegian artist who is currently based between Norway, England and the U.S.

Bjørn Venø (b 1979, Norway / England) is an Arthemist that works with photography, video, performance art, writing, drawing, and music. Currently based in Atalanta, Georgia, he received his
MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in 2012. 

Exhibitions and performances include The Rudin Prize, Norton Museum, West Palm Beach US (2012), Guangzhou LIVE, YouYou Contemporary Art Centre, Guangzhou CN (2013), Live Action 9, Gothenburg SE (2014), Vestlands Utstilingen NO (2014), Public Screens, Stavanger NO (2017) and Breaking Myth, Museo d'Aumale, Palermo IT (2018). With solo projects at Fotogalleriet, Malmö SE (2009), Nettie Horn, London UK (2009) and Tender Pixel, London UK (2013).

Artist statement

Many ask what is it, what does it mean? To me that is wanting without working for it, the point I believe is to struggle towards the answer, without ever getting it, because it is in the struggle that meaning and happiness lies.

The question that interests me is why do we create?
For me the answer starts with another question, why do we exist?

To which my answer is to explore, then to create must be to explore, to create work that can be explored and inspire others to explore.


I perceive the thoughts we connect to objects such as matter, sound, smell, time or place as energy.
I do not believe in the quantifiable in a traditional sense, rather I believe in a variety of attributes, where the idea of positive or negative is in flux, to the degree that one can no longer describe it within a binary structure. This is a belief that makes describing ideas difficult because we understand concepts in relation to what it is not, for example, light is the absence of darkness. Therefore I must continue to use words or concepts, such as ‘good and bad’, ‘right and wrong’ until I find a form of language that can correctly convey the ideas I’m dealing with. I am highlighting this point because I believe language creates a limit to what we can perceive, but more importantly, I do not want you to feel I am dealing with
absolutes or that the ideas presented are static.

Objects that are created interpersonally or with genuine passion have a high level of energy, such as a pot acquired directly from the craftsperson who created it, the hug we received from our child or a song from a loved one. I would argue that such objects that contain
energy help one connect to the spirit, with that I mean something beyond the self, such as the network we are all a part of. Unfortunately I believe we live in a world that values profit
over the spirit, e.g. the intention is not to create an object for the sake of itself, instead, the intention is for profit. For example, if one did not become a nurse to heal people, but because it was seen as an easy way to earn a living, or one befriends someone, not for a shared interest, but for what one believes the friend can do for you. Instead of being containers of energy the objects created for profit are leaches that mine our consciousness. To give the appearance that these objects are infused with energy one can connect them to a recognisable brand, intellectual property or a celebrity.


Licensed Fool

I believe artists are in a position to create or draw attention to or out of objects in a way that can resonate across belief systems. In my practice, I work with the methodology of the Licensed Fool. It was believed that the natural fool had a connection to the divine, but not the language to convey that knowledge to the people, hence some individuals took on those attributes to make the connection to the divine and translate it into a language for the people.
Throughout the ages, this character has been perceived as the shaman, the court jester or the clown. Personally, I see the Licensed Fool as the escaped prisoner in Plato’s cave analogy, the one who saw past the illusion to see the object itself. And most recently I came across the fable ‘How Raven stole the Sun’, a Haida story. In short, the Chief wanted to keep the sun for himself, but Raven was tired of walking in the dark and devised a plan for how to trick the Chief into releasing the sun to the world.


I believe we live in a network where everything is connected even if it stands in contradiction.
The network is made up of nodes where every element within a node is connected to a variety of other nodes. This is an idea that stands in contrast to how we are taught to see the world, ourselves as singular beings that need constant stimuli of one's ego whilst living in communities that stand in opposition to the other. If we could redefine our language and perception then that could maybe put us towards a sustainable path in contradiction to the cancerous development we are on.