Four Happenings with Ulf Nilsen and Eli Eines

In 1966 a man dies of a heart disease. By then he had a one-year-old daughter. That daughter is me. I don’t remember my dad. My whole life I have been looking for who he was; in other people’s stories about him, in the places he has been and in things he has owned. In the spring of 2021, a cardiologist told me that my dad’s journal was probably in the National Hospital’s archives. A few days after I contacted the archive, I found myself with a large envelope in my hand. Inside the envelope were depictions of my dad’s heart activity in the form of several ECGs. Imagine if I could have pressed my ear against his chest and listened. But it`s impossible. Nor can I imagine the sound of his heart without the help of others. Maja Ratkje has given me her interpretation of dad’s ECG through a composition for violin with the same name as the task I gave her: Play my dad’s heart to me so I can hear it. In Old Aker Church I have asked organist Ulf Nilsen if he can play my dad’s heart. There’s just one challenge: Ulf is blind and can’t see my dad’s ECG. When I sat together with Ulf on the organ bench to introduce him to the ECGs, we agreed to make this situation the actual work instead of him composing a finished piece. You are invited to see our vulnerability on the organ bench. I’m helpless in reaching my father, Ulf can’t see anything of what he is going to help me with.

Why do this in a church? Through studying at Norwegian School of Theology I learned that the church can be interpreted as a body. Organ bears the name «organ» in English. In Old Aker Church, the organ is in the middle of the church. From there, it emits sound to the entire church room, like a heart pumping blood around the body.

Originally, this is a work that reflects my longing and search for a biological father. But by bringing this longing into a church space, do you think it can also have an expanded meaning?

Eli Eines

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