March 26, 2021, 10am
Veronica Bruce, Karoline Bakken Lund, & Jamie Sterns in Conversation
Installation view of Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "Ultra" at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn

Installation view of Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "Ultra" at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn

NADA spoke with Jamie Sterns of Interstate Projects and Norwegian artist duo Veronica Bruce and Karoline Bakken Lund about their meeting during the NADA UKS Norwegian Residency in 2019 and their recent collaboration for the exhibition Ultra, on view through April 11th. 

The three of you met when Jamie was participating in the 2019 NADA UKS Norwegian Residency, could you talk about the work or ideas that were discussed when you met in that first studio visit? What sparked that initial conversation and resulted in this exhibition at Interstate Projects in 2021?

J: For the residency I had a full itinerary of artists to meet in Oslo and Bergen and while I met so many great artists when I went to Veronica and Karoline's studio something just clicked. I loved their collaborative practice, their use of textiles, sculpture and performative works. Their use of materials sourced from Norway and their interest in creating conversations about the body and history through it really engaged me and made me curious to learn more about them and their work. Even though I saw a quick sampling of the variety in which they worked that first visit I knew that they had that magic something that fit with Interstate's programming.

B&L: As Jamie says, we had an immediate tone and understanding—and met in the interest of a social way of relating to the process of creating rather than present a specific work. We love to keep things open—moving through different materials and formats and see where our interests go, continuously finding new ways of working together and in collaboration. We kept in touch after the meeting in Oslo and it went from there!

Installation view of Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "Ultra" at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn
Installation view of Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "Ultra" at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn

UKS and NADA are both organizations that rely on the collective efforts and support of their members to benefit the community as a whole, how have your experiences with either/both of these organizations impacted your approach to collaboration?

J: I would have never had the accelerated experience to meet so many artists and learn about the art scenes in Norway without the UKS/Nada residency. It was a great way to also talk about how being a young artist differs in Norway vs. the US (specifically NYC) and it was great to be able to bridge them through this residency. 

B&L: The initial meeting made possible by UKS and NADA created this new connection we wouldn't have been exposed to—crossing scenes with such distance. Even between us in the duo we have different backgrounds and connections abroad—but we have never presented work in the States before. Throughout our dialogue since 2019 we have kept in touch about where our practice is—and when we were asked to do something for NADA Miami it opened up a first for us to work virtually, which was an amazing project to do along the way for this exhibition.

Installation view of Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "Ultra" at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn

The exhibition at Interstate takes place in the courtyard, which is somewhat of a public, social space. How has the inability to present performances in-person over the last year or be present for the installation of this exhibition, impacted your work or this exhibition in particular? Have you discovered benefits to communicating or engaging virtually?

J: This show has been a process! It was originally set to open in May 2020 and of course that had to be postponed due to COVID. We tried many ways to get the artists to NYC but with lockdowns and travel restrictions it was just not possible (sadly). So instead of cancelling completely we thought using the courtyard space would be a great way to bring the artists work to NYC with these limitations. The courtyard is almost like a community garden, people are welcome to come and sit and rest when we are open and that type of space and ability to see art within it is something that is vital during this pandemic.

B&L: Even before the pandemic our dialogue kept on circulating around our common studio practice as a duo, both in material exploration, performativity and social sculptural investigations, especially planning a residency at Interstate Projects to create the work on site. As the pandemic forced us to work locally, we had to rethink how our contextual and often site specific work could still feel as an interaction with specificity of Interstate. We had online meetings, being guided around the space and developed ideas and location through that. The piece is hand tufted here in Norway by us using yarn from local sheep and is a sculptural entity that deals with the architectural structure and social activity in the backyard. We often work reshaping ideas about already existing elements, playing with visibility and tactility. During the whole of this dialogue we see both this work and the one for NADA Miami as different offsprings of our practice—seen through different materialities and methods of working.
 Video: Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, "The Tomb" for NADA Miami 2020

Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund (b.1989) lives and works in Oslo, Norway. Recent collaborative works include The Tomb at Nada Miami in collaboration with Interstate Projects (Miami 2020), Ultra at Eidsberg Kunstforening (Mysen, 2020), The Fool at Palmera (Bergen 2020), Life Killed Chihuahua at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (London, 2019) and Silicone Era at Destiny’s Atelier (Oslo, 2017).

Veronica Bruce holds a BFA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins and in Dance and Choreography from the School for New Dance in Oslo, as well as programs at MSA^ and DOCH. She has previously shown works at Black Box teater, Kunstnernes Hus, Bergen Kunsthall, Coast Contemporary and SCHLOSS in Norway, Les Urbaines and Arsenic in Switzerland.

Karoline Bakken Lund has a MFA in Textile and Costume Design from Oslo National Academy of the Arts and a BA in Art and Design from OsloMet, as well as programs at Bergen National Academy of Arts and 89plus. She has previously shown works at Kunstnernes Hus, Kunstnerforbundet and Dansens Hus in Oslo, RAS in Sandnes and Oktoberdans in Bergen.

Veronica Bruce & Karoline Bakken Lund, Ultra is on view through April 11th.