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partisan cafe, bergen assembly, coffee, exhibiton

Bergen Assembly: Partisan Café (2016)

Old Fire Station, Bergen, Norway.

From Bergen Assembly 2016 / .freethought:

Conceived by Nora Sternfeld in collaboration with artists Isa Rosenberger and Jenny Moore. Realised by artists and educators Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Johnny Herbert, Jenny Moore (coordinator), Arne Skaug Olsen during the Bergen Assembly, September 2016.

The Partisan café was an educational/performative/artistic practice as a coffee house in the Museum of Burning Questions – a Para-Museum realised in collaboration with the artist Isa Rosenberger – and one performative platform of the freethought infrastructure project. Located in the occupied historic fire station of Bergen the Partisan café was host as much as guest. It was a shared space and a contact zone. As educators and café workers we thought about radical hospitality. As guests of the resident firefighters we thought about reciprocities and commonalities.

The title ‘Partisan Café’ was related to a choice: partisan instead of participation. It borrowed directly from “the Partisan Coffee House” – a space for gatherings, conversation and debate in London Soho in the late 1950s, organised by the New Left.


During the five weeks of Bergen Assembly 2016 (1 September – 1 October 2016), the Partisan Café hosted a programme of events, discussions, screenings and music curated by freethought to explore the political, urban and cultural dimensions of our infrastructural condition.

The programme curated by freethought in collaboration with Brandon LaBelle, artist and Professor in New Media at Bergen Academy of Art and Design, followed four strands:

Curated by Brandon LaBelle

The Imaginary Republic looked at questions of public life and civic culture in today’s European environment, and how economic, social and political unrest over the last 10 years have led to an intensification of grass-roots initiatives, artistic activism, and forms of public commoning. The project positioned itself as a creative and critical dialogue within this context, and aimed to investigate strategies and formations of dissident imagination – a thinking and doing beyond.

Curated by Louis Moreno

What does citizenship and the right to the city mean in the early 21st Century ? This strand asked is the realm of infrastructure simply the extending space of economic domination and technocratic expertise, or does it contain within it the possibility for ‘amateurs’  to confront and overcome the cultural logic of neoliberalism and financialisation ?

Curated by Nora Sternfeld


This strand considered the tables and worlds between us, curating and institutions as assemblies and about how to come together and disassemble from within.


Curated by Louis Moreno and Jenny Moore


How do we perceive infrastructure? In this strand we sought to go beyond the visual spectrum to think about how music and sound open up a different sense of what defines our infrastructural condition.



Another dimension of the Partisan café was a programme that grew out of investigations and desires of the artists Tora Endestad Bjørkheim, Freja Bäckman, Kabir Carter, Johnny Herbert, Jenny Moore,and Arne Skaug Olsen in collaboration with local actors, regular guests and their individual performative and/or educational practices. This programme was made manifest through foam making, film screenings, a feminist reading group, beer labelling, poetry readings to calypso soundtracks, real-time investigations of infrastructural resonances, coffee bean grinding, an online radio station, a sex education workshop, table shuffeling, secret whisky tippling, listening sessions and dance sessions, after-hours band practice, concerts, floor mopping, re-stocking the fridge, interviews, performances, conflict resolution meetings, self-publishing workshops etc

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