Bik Van der Pol
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To Gather on a Mountain
Comprising a guided hike up Mount Løvstakken and a workshop led by Bik Van der Pol and curated by Volt To Gather on a Mountain (Å Samles på et Fjell) seeks to bring together a group of people to reflect on how we engage with the world – in particular, how we mine, excavate and otherwise exploit the ground on which we stand. One of the seven Caledonian Mountain peaks that surround the city of Bergen, Mount Løvstakken forms part of the Earth’s continuously shifting tectonic system and contains a high concentration of naturally occurring radioactive granite. Acting as an ‘earth-embodied record’, the mountain bears witness to events that have unfolded – and continue to unfold – over millennia.

Hiking up Mount Løvstakken, participants assemble to collectively form a point d’ironie. Subsequently, the group engages in a discussion about the future of energy production. Interested in the potential of the Ancient Greek chorus – whose role in classical theatre was to speak collectively for past and future generations, giving voice to that which is keenly felt yet hard to articulate – Bik Van der Pol seek to reprise this traditional theatrical device for the present day. Who is speaking for the past and the present? What future world do we imagine? To Gather on a Mountain looks to unite the knowledge and experience of a broad range of people in an attempt to define what needs to be decided collectively for a future to be.
To Gather on a Mountain
Central to the Norwegian economy is the petroleum industry: crude oil and natural gas account for more than half of Norway’s annual exports and the country is currently ranked the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world. In 1971, the Norwegian government produced a white paper, the ‘ Ten Commandments of Oil’, serving to guide the country’s petroleum policy and to ensure that any income from the oil industry would be publicly owned.

Taking the ‘Ten Commandments of Oil’ as point of departure, To Gather on a Mountain considers the energy industry, in Norway, in the world. At a time when minerals are extracted from mountains and sea beds and oceans and wind farms are constructed on hillsides – projects often financed by international funds linked to tax havens – Bik Van der Pol aim to collectively generate ‘Ten Commandments for Earth’ that reflect humanity’s impact and men's responsibility for the planet that we share with other entities.

During the 1950s and ’60s, the artists of the Situationist International movement drew attention to the fact that the situations we create for ourselves often also compromise us. Referencing this art-historical position, Bik Van der Pol ask: if we maintain that such a thing as the ‘public good’ exists, then who exactly is that public, why is it good and for whom? How do we take stock of the consequences of our actions?