Tori Wrånes

Born 1978 in Kristiansand, Norway
Lives and works in Oslo, Norway

Tori Wrånes is a force of nature. Merging performance, voice, sculpture and enviroments, she creates startling and intense moments in which she takes the audience with her towards a cathartic climax filled with danger and mystery.
Often altering her appearance through costuming and prosthetics, Wrånes is a self-invented being - mythic and unknowable.
She gathers around her other personae: musicians who live in trees, and choirs of creature-folk; or she works with props as extensions of the body – playing an icicle accordion or a fiery piano. These ensembles and arrangements frequently involve acts of levitation; breathtaking, gravity-defying feats of wonder.

For Wrånes the voice is a fundamental medium. Using her body to produce a gamut of sounds, ranging from the darkest depths to the highest peaks of the human range, she enacts a kind of transformation through different bodily states and capacities. The sounds she makes take on a pre-linguistic status – a calling – howling or wailing in which she exhales an enormous energy out of her body into the atmosphere, sending this force into the midst of the audience. Withstanding the pressure and resistance of other bodies and objects in her performances produces a special quality of resonant sounds as the body vessel is pushed or squeezed, pulled or hung upside down.

With her strange, magical and unsettling arcane practice, Wrånes connects to Nordic mythology and its numerous woodland or mountain gods and heavenly deities. In particular, Wrånes seems to descend directly from the Furies or the flying Valkyries, whose cry – imagined and made famous by Wagner in his Ride of the Valkyries – represents the power of the feminine.

Wrånes frequently takes flight, or suspends herself, and others; however, for the 19th Biennale of Sydney she presents a new performance in which she faces off against the tremendous weight of a pendulum rock that swings towards her with increasing force.
Like her Scandinavian ancestor, King Cnut, Wrånes will command the elements, withstanding the impinging projectile force and the physical and emotional pressure of the boulder, exhausting its combative attack and calling it down to rest. In this effort she is accompanied by a cast of brass players, and a menagerie of fantastical creatures who emerge from her playful psyche, linked to the folkloric traditions of hero helpers and the banished Jötnar race of Norse mythology.

Vivid and wild, Wrånes’s strange and compeeling feats, linked to theatre and endurance performance practice, taket he audience into a pre-modern place, into a world wonderful, dangerous and exhilarating. As she transfers her energy to the audience, they obtain a heightened awareness of the body pitched against the elements.
Wrånes becomes, on our behalf, superhuman.

Juliana Engberg

from 'You Imagine What You Desire'
19th Biennale of Sydney 2014

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Juliana Engberg is a curator, writer, publisher and designer. She is the Artistic Director of Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (ACCA) and the 19th Sydney Biennale (2014). She was the curator of the Melbourne Festival Visual Arts Programme from 2000 to 2006, and in 2007 she was the senior curatorial advisor for the Australian presentations at the Venice Biennale. She inaugurated the ACCA PopUP Program in Venice to coincide with the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). She was the Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Biennial 1999, 'Signs of Life', and Senior Curator of the Art & Industry Biennale, Christchurch, New Zealand (2002). Engberg has worked as a Senior Curator at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, the Assistant Director of the Monash University Gallery and Director of the formative contemporary art space, the Ewing and George Paton Galleries, The University of Melbourne. She is an Adjunct Professor in Architecture, Design and Art at RMIT University, Melbourne and a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University, Melbourne.