Til sjøs (At sea) is a solo show featuring the performance, video, and installation art of Zoe Berg, a senior in Studio Art and Scandinavian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. In the exhibition, Berg crafts an absurd yet deeply sincere Norwegian-American identity through historical research, family heirlooms, and pathetic aesthetic.
She transforms the Center Space gallery into three distinct yet confused environments that resemble her grandmother’s home, a teenager’s bedroom, and a Sons of Norway lodge. Through Berg’s performances on an ever-changing stage, Til sjøs becomes a multidimensional experience. Berg’s videos and installations draw associations between seemingly arbitrary details that she manipulates to serve as idiosyncratic symbols of her Norwegian heritage. A spandex-clad character with a flower headdress stars as a hopeless deity in a number of Berg’s video works. Confused, the flower echoes the Nordic landscape, participating in a series of created myths that aid in understanding a complex family history and convey a larger sense of Berg’s status as a Norwegian-American. The recurring Tilbedelse (Worship) imagery has become an icon of Norway for Berg, a vehicle encapsulating her almost obsessive attitude towards her adoptive homeland.
Til sjøs references the romance of going to sea, once an unwritten obligation and rite of passage in Norwegian society. Berg is hugely influenced by the heritage she and her grandparents share. Berg mines the memories of her grandmother, as well as members of two Norwegian-American communities in Texas—Cranfills Gap and Clifton—whose ancestors voyaged the high waters to land in Texas in the 1800s, cultivating their experiences through repurposed imagery and her own personal footage.
This exhibition is curated by Center Space Project, the student organization of the Visual Arts Center. Generous support for Center Space Project comes from the University Co-Op as well as Robin and Trey Hancock.
Zoe Berg is a senior in Studio Art and Scandinavian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Born in Austin, Berg first traveled to Norway the summer after fifth grade—a life-changing experience, which led to her being known as “the girl who just talks about Norway, cats, and her grandmother.” Still an accurate description, Berg admits, as she has continued to channel her Norwegian sea-captain ancestors and grandparents, creating performances, videos, and installations depicting traced personal and fictional histories. Since returning to Texas after living and studying in Madison, Wisconsin for two years, Berg has participated in shows in Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, namely Car Show: Drive in/Thru/By and Pool Party at Co-Lab Projects in Austin, Fresh Meat at 500X Gallery in Dallas, and Textinction at Tex Gallery in Denton. Berg attended Ox-Bow School of Art during summer 2012 and participated in Land Arts of the American West during fall 2012.