Lineage looks at learning and how we learn. It draws lines between: the learning practices of experimental dance and somatic work, and ‘artistic geneology’: a creative interaction with his Norwegian ancestors and the ways that their lives have been recorded, to learn about his Norwegian cultural heritage, which has been previously invisible to him. Lineage strings together these seemingly separate ways of gaining knowledge to think about what it was like to live in a body in rural Norway 100 years ago and ask how this effects how we are living in our bodies now. How have our embodied relationships to the ideas of ‘land’ and ‘nature’ been transformed in this time?

Otto’s great grandfather John Fredrikson Ramstad, a metal worker, was born in Skjåk, Norway in 1890 on Ramstadtrædet husmann farm. He immigrated to Minnesota in 1911 and only returned to visit once in 1948. Since then none of his Minnesota family has had any contact with family in Norway. He died 1984 when he was 9 years old. In May 2016 Otto came to Norway for the first time and he found the family farm his great grandfather was born on and met the relatives living there now. Using his knowledge of experimental dance he made a series of dances and videos on the farm and in the surrounding mountains as a way to build a relationship with the places and create methods to process and learn from the information that he was collecting. This research as led him to immigrate to Norway as a way to experience the cultural learning his great grandfather went through in 1911.

Lineage is the preservation of intangible cultural knowledge. Family geneologies are preserved in national archives and created in family stories. The dance and somatic practices of Lisa Nelson’s Tuning Scores, Steve Paxton’s Material for the Spine, and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Body-Ming Centering are archived in and transmitted through the bodies of dance practitioners.

This is not a story of reconnection or continuity. Rather, these are strange encounters that expose large gaps and discontinuities that have led to new experiences and ways of thinking that call to be probed further. Within these gaps and discontinuities there is space for questions, imagination and poetics.

Lineage will be presented as a studio practice, a series of discussions and a dance, video and storytelling performance.

Upcoming schedule:

January 23-24, 2019 LiveReMake version at Research week,Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway

– Jan 23, 10:00, scene 5: kontinuerlig installasjon
– Jan 23, 15:00, scene 5: live fremføring
– Jan 24, 10:00, scene 5: kontinuerlig installasjon
– Jan 24, 16:15, scene 5: live fremføring

April 4,5, 8, & 9 2019 at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway

Photo by Charles Villyard for SFMOMA

“Going back to the lineage and the land is in a sense a cautionary act –a revaluation of origins as consciousness and technology expand “beyond” threatening to decenter us.” Sean Smuda, artist

“what has been
Otto moved through identities, which were origins, and senses, which became forays into memory
what will be

what has been
a blanket first burdened then embellished him into feathered cloaks, teeth gilded into gold, his arm a horn and on him ears that hear the grass grow
what will be

what has been
reforming light into looping displays of the body, which seem to flicker between authoritarian regimes of nature and the creation and coronation of gods. His body rotating, through cyclical movements as if caught in a surf, from driftwood into a man and back
what will be”

from James Fleming’s Notebook – BodyCartography on Openspace.

Read a review of an early version of Lineage here from Vital Matters Dance Festival in 2016.

A work in progress version of Lineage at Figure /Space Riff talk in 2016

Lineage Skjåk show 12.8.18 from BodyCartography Project on Vimeo.


Skjak, Norway

Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota

Art Shanty Projects on White Bear Lake in Minnesota Sunday February 5 & 19, 2017 at 3.30pm

Riff Talks, School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, Northampton

Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin

Praxis Festivalen, Dansenhuset, Oslo August 14th, 2016

Vital Matters Dance Festival, Southern Theater, Minneapolis,October 20-23rd, 2016,   

TILT, Fargernes, Norway November 23rd, 2016

Dance for Syria benefit, Phoenix Theater, Minneapolis

This project is a Vital Matters festival commission and has been supported by Headlands Center for the Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

This activity is made possible by funding from Oppland Fylkeskommune, Foundation for Contemporary Art, New York, Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, a scholarship from The Norway-America Association and Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo.