On 17 August 1969, the US National Weather Service issued a warning that Hurricane Camille was headed for the eastern coast of Mississippi. It was an unusually strong hurricane, with winds up to 90 m/s, but despite these warnings, people gathered at a holiday hotel in the beach town of Pass Christian to celebrate Camille with a “hurricane party”. These types of parties were common along the US coast in the 1950s and 60s, particularly in Florida, where instead of evacuating before a storm, people loaded up with food and drinks and invited friends over for big parties. Late that night, Hurricane Camille tore across the shoreline with a violent force, and a six-metre high wave trapped the partygoers on the top floor of the hotel. A few moments later, the building collapsed, and the party was over forever for the 23 unlucky merrymakers.
In their exhibition Hurricane Party, Bigert & Bergström have transformed Norrtälje Konsthall into a place where a possible hurricane party already has, or just might, take place. The building’s entrance, several floors and the terrace have been activated by different installations and works of art bearing paradoxes – objects, films and sculptures that oscillate between different emotional states. These states are often found along the front lines of weather and climate hot zones, and B&B have always been fascinated by these borderlines where ordered, comfortable states of being threaten to tip over into disaster. Many have probably lived through such a phase transition, where a lovely, warm holiday excursion turned into a nightmare when an unexpected storm rolled in.
Photos: Jean-Baptiste Béranger