Lene Berg in Kunsthalle Bergen – The Father Possessed by the Devil?

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to: Sandra Danicki

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Casting Arnljot, 2022, 4 video channels. Starring Thorbjørn Harr, Kyrre Hellum, Peter Width Kristiansen, and Eivin Nilsen Salthe. Photo: Thor Brodreskift © Thor Brodreskift

Lene Berg explores the layers of memory at Kunsthalle Bergen.

How was that again? Back then, when I was a kid, what color was the car? How does it look? What exactly did you do, what did you do and what did the woman across the street do? Memory is always a fantasy, at least in part. It never coincides with events, although you can’t tell either. We remember the mistake over and over again. Yet they are often quite convinced that it must be so and not otherwise. Details to keep. Existing documents. Pictures in your head that you can’t tell with absolute certainty where they came from. Did you see it with your own eyes? Do you remember the photos or is it a pictorial idea one made from stories about the event.

There was a red car, probably a Renault 4. Dad was sitting in it and snoring. But where was Evelyn?

Lynn Berg tries to remember. How was it with your father at the time? The event she was not at all in, and which has had a lasting effect on her life to this day, nearly fifty years later. One thing seems clear: Berg’s father Evelyn Zammit, Lynn’s stepmother, was murdered at that time. but how? why? where exactly? He went to jail because of it. newspapers reported. Norwegian and French newspapers, because the father of Arnalgot Berg, a well-known film director at the time, was Norwegian and lived in France with his second wife. Lynn was nine years old and lived with her mother in Oslo. How did you learn about the event? not clear. What did he tell her who told her? not clear.

Evelyn was in the passenger seat next to her dad, right? Could that be the case at all?

It’s an exciting exhibition that Lene Berg held at the Kunsthalle in Bergen, Norway, and if you’re vacationing nearby this summer, you should go. No matter what you think you experienced on this trip (was the sofa in your hotel room really a flower?), after visiting the gallery, you might find yourself browsing through your smartphone photos and images in your head all over again. (Those delicious pastries, did they actually have sugar sprinkles on them? Light over the hill, was that really magical?). And not only that, scenes from childhood will pop into your head and you won’t know if you really experienced them. Was she?

You will think about the past few weeks, remember encounters and conversations and keep asking yourself: Have you already experienced it the same way?

Lynn Berg questions her memory, questions documents, objects and relatives. The movie begins with a movie showing the location of a toy car and model train characters parked in an empty parking lot. says the artist. About the man, her father snores while her stepmother lies dead beside him. It was February, early in the morning, foggy. Somewhere in France. Was she? When exactly was that again? 1974? 1975? Where is she herself? Oh yeah, in her bed in Oslo. Who called the police and why? Because the car was crooked in the parking lot?

Film strips hang from the ceiling in the next room. Daddy movies that intertwine. Moments frozen in a statue. Cigarette butts in an empty film case, radio on, you hear the news. In the next room the father again. In one of his own films, which he directed with a journalist about the Paris metro, he appears as an additional film whose head is never seen.

His hands show how to pull the ticket out of the machine (the same hands that killed Evelyn?), his lower body shows how to get through the barrier (the same pants he was wearing when he was arrested?). Lynn Berg remembers his smell: nicotine and old-fashioned spice.

She calls her father. Tell him what you remember, too. We are visiting father. We go to the old gray dial telephone with the knotted circular cord, and hear Lynn Berg say that we, her father, have been gone for weeks. The last months he was in Bologna, penniless, “looking for oblivion”. Someone found him among the garbage cans looking for food, his passport sewn into his pants. It turns out that Berg’s father was an alcoholic, and he was mentally ill.

Lynne Berg organized a selection process, and the results were displayed on the wall: four actors imitating the father, explaining how they wanted to create the role, and what kind of man Berg was in their eyes. One would think he was under tremendous pressure. He was lonely, and another. Another found him charming and sad. We see the same scene (the father is excited. He explains to the child that he has to be alone now, he has to let go of his hand), sometimes very exaggerated, sometimes composed.

Father, what was it like? Do you remember that when the man died long ago? Yes, a long time ago. Arnalgot Berg killed himself when Lane was a teenager.

He had previously sent letters to his three sons from prison, where he served, oddly enough, only 15 months. Another four years of probation was suspended. One of these messages can be heard in the gallery. In it, Berg recounts his daily routine in prison, child-friendly, imaginative, and loving. It’s about food, about fellow prisoners, about the bathroom at six in the morning. “Tell my mom that I have become incredibly good at washing and cleaning. This letter is what wins him over instantly. A man who writes such letters to his children can only be such a wonderful and very sensitive person. Children’s letters to their father can also be seen, and read aloud Loud, they are cute messages.They, and this is immediately obvious, are not original, they have been photographed and embroidered on the clothes.

Another room dedicated to Lynn Berg’s handling of events – as she remembers it. She kept asking her mother questions: Is my father a bad person? why did he do that? How did he do this? Can I still love him now? Can we visit it? Is Satan possessed? The mother answers evasively.

Secret court documents that Lane obtained shortly before the Kunsthall Gallery opened, but which she examined closely only afterwards, show that Evelyn’s father testified on Arnljot’s behalf. It makes things more confusing.

Bergen Art Gallery: Until August 21. www.kunsthall.no

The Day Rises movie, 2022, still.  Photo: Lena Berg
The Day Rises movie, 2022, still. Photo: Lene Berg © © Lene Berg

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