Berge's work addresses the inter-connectivity between people and how a real connection can be easily lost when we substitute technology or dogmatic ideology for direct human contact. How do we communicate to solve mutual problems?
The backbone of the show is the video Breaking the Ice (2013) documenting Berge's mid-winter drive in an ice cream van. Setting out from London, he travels up via Scandinavia, Estonia and Russia, to Kirkenes on the north-eastern border of Norway and Russia, stopping off to engage with passers-by, distributing ice cream in return for conversations about the weather. The title of the show is a quote from one of the conversations. Is talking about the weather an opening to meaningful interaction, or is it a screening of real communication, a detour to avoid difficult discussions about what happens when the ice cream is gone?
A video from Berge’s recent collaboration with Jason Havneraas, The Ice Cream Eaters (2014) is shown alongside Breaking the Ice.
The large sculpture in the exhibition bears the title Concorde, referring both to agreement and referring to the ambitious technological aeronautic endeavour, ultimately abandoned. A set of stairs invites us to ascend the towering pulpit-like structure. At the summit we are faced with the immediacy of a domestic sphere in the form of a crocheted fabric screen. This is mounted at the front like a propeller or windmill. Where do we direct our questions, air opinions or exchange viewpoints? Through the material, at it, away from it? How do we orientate ourselves and avoid paranoia?
The Future of Loran is the title of one of the works from Berge’s recent series of collages. Loran was a radar navigation system developed in the United States during World War II, recently closed down amidst controversy. One of the largest, original masts is near Berge's home on the Lofoten Islands in the north of Norway. Combining warning tapes, sweet wrappers, photos and patterning structures, low-tech coded messages are stuck together, transmitting the recurring themes of the exhibition. They use humble everyday means to signal an alarm on short-term consumer gratification and its effects on the world. As explorations, they are jottings to develop Berge’s processes of thinking about how we can communicate. How to solve the urgent problems of our collective destiny?
Berge’s practise predominantly takes the form of filmed performative pieces, sculptures, installations and photography. Drawing on the personal and political, he uses an exploratory approach to making art that informs each project as it develops. By fostering opportunities for collaboration on different levels he often involves contributors in his work. Berge likes to encourage the spontaneous, opening up potential for creativity in unforeseen ways. For the 9th Havana Biennial, Cuba Berge showed A BAILAR, 2006 a social sculpture attracting crowds providing Hip-Hop, poetry and vocal performances. At W!7, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Berge did the project ALYANS, 2009 a stab at learning Turkish informed by the Turkish Norwegian Immigrant scene in Oslo. Breaking the Ice, 2013 was made for the arts festival Barents Spektakel, Kirkenes, produced by NNKS, Svolvær. Currently he enjoys a very productive collaboration with the artist Jason Havneraas. Berge is also on the artistic board of LIAF, Lofoten International Arts Festival, Norway and appreciates his various roles in education. He is continually motivated by his commute between the UK and Norway.