In 2009, when Lars Ove Toft joined the BEK family as the new general manager, it might have been like arriving on the set of The Addams Family meets Home Alone. At BEK, layers upon layers of electronic art had accumulated in the corridors and storage rooms that had to be excavated and sorted. The first major purchase was a Dymo LetraTag which in the next few years would be a key tool for the milieu. Now, as Lars Ove moves on, he leaves a brand new BEK with newly renovated studios and premises and a grateful staff who are extremely well equipped for whatever may come. As members of Lars Ove’s team, we have been able to develop ourselves as both artists and professionals and have been part of a decade marked by major changes and an incredible amount of exciting art!
Lars Ove came from the experimental milieu of BIT Teatergarasjen; he brought with him his great breadth of tastes and interests and flung the doors to BEK wide open. It quickly became a sizzling and creative milieu, with room for everyone — an inclusive and safe place for all. With his great social commitment, Lars Ove has always kept the door open for people who may be struggling and has given them a place to be and a new start in their lives. This is one of those cases where it is not a cliché to say that we have become better fellow human beings by being in Lars Ove’s orbit — he is a true ildsjel: a passionate agent of change in our community.
Everyone who has been to BEK during this Toftian decade knows how much Lars Ove has meant to the art milieu in Bergen, with his tireless efforts to help small and large projects to be realized, through everything from lending equipment to knowledge development and ideas. BEK’s annual reports from the period can be regarded as an encyclopaedia of everything that has been done on the art scene in Bergen with its long lists of collaborations and artists who have visited.
Lars Ove is now leaving us to continue working with his own art, which we last saw an example of in the fantastic exhibition Etter alle solemerke at Kabuso last year, with a focus on video experiments and kinetic sculptures. The theme for the exhibition was slow changes that happen over several years, but we very much doubt that Lars Ove will be able to stay slow for very long. We already hear in the distance the sound of hammer and saw in the process of building new boathouses and barns for art production on the coast of Tofterøy!
Thank you very much Lars Ove, and good luck with your future projects!