Moderna Museet is leading the work on the 2024 version of the International Art Exhibition in Venice for which Lap-See Lam (Sweden) has been invited to create a “total work of art”. In collaboration with the museum, she has extended the invitation to artist Kholod Hawash (Finland) and composer Tze Yeung Ho (Norway).
They will be presenting The Altersea Opera; an experimental opera, an audio-visual adventure about being in a state of loss and longing, the mutability of myth and connecting through multilingualism.
On entering the pavilion, visitors will experience an imaginary ship shaped like a dragon, inspired by Floating Sea Palace, a site that has been through countless transformations. The once splendid floating restaurant was deserted, looted, and later served as a haunted house at an amusement park in Stockholm.
At the centre of this drama is Lo Ting – half human, half fish. Away from the sea he is desperately longing for his previous life on Fragrant Harbour. Unable to fit in and speak his language, he attempts to tackle the waves on his way across the oceans, sailing through time and space.
During the opening days in Venice, the opera will be performed by an ensemble consisting of singers, musicians, and actors.
Vast ocean beneath a misty sky. A creature of both water and land is praying to the sea goddess Ma-Zhou when he accidentally summons a dragon ship which takes him on a journey beyond time and space.
Lap-See Lam was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1990, where she lives and works. She obtained her master’s degree in Fine Art in 2020 from the Royal …
Tze Yeung Ho
Tze Yeung Ho was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1992 and commutes between Oslo and Helsinki. He holds a doctoral degree from the Estonian Academy of Music …
Tze Yeung Ho
Kholod Hawash was born in Basra, Iraq, in 1977 and lives and works in Espoo,
Finland. For many years she was working as an illustrator of children’s …
The Altersea Opera
Conceived and conceptualised by artist Lap-See Lam, The Altersea Opera is a poetic exploration of the existential implications of displacement and belonging which veers between the real and the imaginary to tell a story about the desire to stay and the need to move on. For the duration of the Biennale, the Nordic Pavilion transforms into a dragon ship, powered by magic sails made of stories and filled with mythological water creatures trying to find their way back to the places of their past.
A richly layered audio-visual installation, The Altersea Opera is inspired by the spirit of the Red Boat Opera Company – the travelling opera troupe which popularised Cantonese opera in the 19th century.
Kholod Hawash’s textile works form a sculptural installation in the Pavilion. Her embroideries conjure a distinctive world of motifs, sewn stitch-by-stitch through jodaleia and tatreez (Arabic for quilting and embroidery), with elements from folktales and archaeological landscapes.
The score composed by Tze Yeung Ho merges Baroque ornamentation and unexpected instruments in melancholic melodies, interspersed with lullabies and poetry that draw on the multilingual background of the artists.
Curator: Asrin Haidari, Moderna Museet
The project was initiated by Moderna Museet in collaboration with the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma (Museum of Contemporary Art).