The social and cultural life of 1930s Oslo is the starting point for a new film cabaret by the Danish artist duo.
In their new film, Kirsten Astrup & Maria Bordorff revisit the Kongshavn baths and summer stage, an important social and cultural meeting place in Oslo during the 1920s and 1930s. Until it was destroyed by fire in 1946, people came from both sides of the Aker River to bathe, dance and delight in revue shows and cabarets. Today the area has been transformed into a harbour-side container park with heavy traffic running through it.
In a film studio in Copenhagen, the Danish artist duo have created a vision of the old open air stage and created a theatrical film cabaret. Here, popular culture and marginalized communities meet as drag artists, professional actors and amateur performers take to the stage against a backdrop influenced by the photographic archives from the National Theatre and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s erotic film Querelle (1982). Frescos by Norwegian artist Per Krohg for the Oslo School of Sailors in 1924 have inspired the film’s flamboyant cast.
During the film, viewers encounter a number of characters, who engage in an array of activities offered by the Oslo Fjord. These include enthusiastic audiences at a Kongshavn show, roller skiers on the Ekeberg hills, a group of decidedly unimpressed tourists aboard a cruise ship, and a flock of people basking in the sun on the beach, affectionately referred to as “cuddly queers” by the artists. The sky is a deep orange, bathing the highly stylized poses and scenography in a tropical, ominous light.
The running time of the film is approximately 20 minutes
Kirsten Astrup (1983) and Maria Bordorff (1988) are based in Copenhagen. They have collaborated on film cabarets and performances for three years. Their most recent film, Quivery Heart (2018) was awarded the Franciska Clausen Medal by Akademiraadet – the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts, and Astrup & Bordorff recently received the Remmen Foundation Art Prize.
The art project Summer Night by the Beach – a Film Cabaret by Kirsten Astrup & Maria Bordorff was commissioned for Munchmuseet on the Move – Contemporary Art (2019), and curated by Natalie Hope O’Donnell.