"Jeg tok min nystemte ..... "
by Motherboard, Oslo
(With Amanda Steggell, Ellen Røed, Per Platou and the people of Bergen)

07 - 16 October 2004
Gallereit, Bergen

"Welcome to Bergen, the old city with a young outlook. A city with its feet in the sea, its head in the skies and its heart in the right place - full of infectious enthusiasm, and happy to share it with visitors."
- so reads the opening paragraph on The Official Bergen Internet Site at www.bergen-travel.com.

The Motherboard contribution to the Bergen International Film Festival Exhibition seeks to put this statement to the test by asking the people of Bergen to share one of their most coveted heritages, the Bergensian anthem - locally known as Nystemten (Freshly tuned), often called Jeg tok min nystemte citar i hænde (I took my freshly tuned citar in my hand) but originally entitled Sang for Bergen - fra Ulriken's Top (A song for Bergen - from Ulriken's Peak) - with us. The song text was written by Nordahl Brun in 1791 while the melody is said to originate from the French composer Jean Baptise Lully in the 15th century, revised in more recent times by Johan Halvorsen in 1921.

As a tribute to the city surrounded by seven mountains and the patriotic spirit of its inhabitants, Nystemten features as a traditonal element of so-called low and high cultural activities. It is sung just as vigourously (if not more!) from the tribunes of the Brann Football Stadium (often led by famous artists and simultaneously slandered by supporters of the visiting team) at the opening of football matches as it is at the opening of the Bergen Festspill (annual cultural festival). In 1986 Sissel Kyrkjebø made her breakthrough at the age of 17 with her rendition of Nystemten when Bergen hosted the Eurovision Song Contest finals.

However, it does not pay to mess around with Nystemten. In 1998 the former director of Bergen Festspill, Bergljót Jónsdóttir, attempted to take the song out of the program in favour of a more international festival profile and has forthwith been refered to as an "Ice"-lander rather than a Bergenser, despite her 9 year status as a resident of Bergen. The comic duo from Bergen, Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker, made their tv debut in the musical game show Beat for beat in 2001 and were slandered in the local press for not remembering the text to Nystemten.

In Motherboard's installation, "Jeg tok min nystemte ...." the public are invited to remix audio-visual versions of this coveted anthem via a keyboard triggering 49 very recent video samples of Bergensian "songbirds" according to their own whim .... and at their own risk.

(Thank you to the people of Bergen for singing for our camera, and to BEK for lending us a computer.)

Images from the installation taken by Ellen Røed and Alf Waage. (Click on thumbnails for larger images)

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BIFF Exhibition information