LIGHTS ON – Norwegian Contemporary Art

Through the last decade we have witnessed a steadily increasing globalization of contemporary art. Artists throughout the world focus on research problems with similar contents, forms and artistic languages, even if not exactly the same. Norwegian artists are acknowledged as being part of a larger artistic milieu – a milieu in which they, with increasing enthusiasm, have become more visible and active participants.

Young Norwegian contemporary artists, most with an impressive academic education, seem more concerned with object-based rather than process-oriented art. Most work from post-conceptual premises and realize their artistic ideas through sculptures, architecture/installations, videos, sound works, photographs and paintings. Most artists in this exhibition work with a narrative pictorial language, often including text references and pictograms firmly rooted in everyday memories and popular culture. Some reflect over the appropriation of pictures, objects and art-historical references, others focus on perception and the physicality of objects. Another tendency is to explore the metaphysical and mystical realm. Yet in spite of the copious variety and forms of expression, in almost all the artist one finds a critical closeness to society and a will to create meaningful, socially relevant art.

Participating artists are: Jesper Alvær/Isabela Grosseová, Thora Dolven Balke, Siri Berqvam, Kyrre Bjørkås/Rune Andreassen, Ole Martin Lund Bø, Bjørn Båsen, Jan Christensen, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Ida Ekblad, Jan Hakon Erichsen, Matias Faldbakken, Jan Freuchen, Ivan Galuzin, Anna Sigmond Gudmundsdottir, Ane Mette Hol, Håvard Homstvedt, Lars Kjemphol/Espen Henningsen, Maren Juell Kristensen, Hjørdis Kurås, Ingvild Langgård, Jørgen Craig Lello/Tobias Arnell, Trine Lise Nedreaas, Martin Skauen, Eirin Støen, Stian Ådlandsvik and Øystein Aasan.

Aiming to arrange a dynamic exhibition concept the museum has invited young curators to create ‘exhibitions within the exhibition’. From this starting point, we have reserved one central exhibition room in the museum and called it ‘the Guest Room’. It will be devoted to temporary exhibitions under the aegis of artist-driven, non-commercial galleries. Throughout the exhibition period we will present exhibitions by Bastard (based in Oslo) curator: Anders Smebye (12 Jan. – 27 Jan.); Blunk (based in Trondheim) curators: Lina Berglund, Kristoffer Henriksson, Freia Uta Beer and Aylin Soyer Tangen (31 Jan. – 10 Feb.); Rakett (based in Bergen) curators: Åse Løvgren and Karolin Tampere (14 Feb. – 2 March); and Rekord (based in Oslo) curators: Thora Dolven Balke, Ingvild Langgård and Eirin Støen (6 March – 23 March). These galleries have a ‘carte blanche’ to present what they see as the most interesting and significant contemporary Norwegian art. In this way the exhibition will extend beyond the curator’s initial intentions, and will, for short periods, add surprising glimpses into Norwegian contemporary art that were not initially planned as part of the exhibition.

Exhibitions in ‘guest room’

Bastard presented the exhibition ‘Monumento Mori’ (12 Jan.-27 Jan.), which dealt with monumental changes; death, regeneration and metamorphosis. Participating artists are: Marte Johnslien, Lina Viste Grønli, Anders Smebye, Lars Laumann, Jan Bünning and Simon Rühle.

Blunk presents the exhibition ‘What there is and what you see’ (31 Jan – 10 Feb). Participating artists: Kjersti Foyn, Kristofer Henriksson, Christina Reenberg Jensen, Lars Skjelbreia and Lisa Stålspets. Curators: Lina Berglund, Kristofer Henriksson, Uta Freia Beer og Aylin Soyer Tangen.

Rakett presents ‘Investigation of a Model of Influence – including use of subversive strategies and attempts of aesthetic practice and experience’
(14 Feb – 2 March) Paricipating: Espen Sommer Eide & Arne Skaug Olsen, Michael Baers, Geir Tore Holm & Søssa Jørgensen, Linus Elmes, Magdalena Ziolkowska, Kristin Tårnesvik, Matt Packer, Ron Sluik, Maaretta Jaukkuri, Tal Ben Zvi, Tone Hansen, Yvette Brackman, Matei Bejenaru and Insert Name Here (Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen and Jenny Yurshansky) and Camila Marambio. Curated by Åse Løvgren and Karolin Tampere. Scroll down for programme details.

Rekord presents the exhibition ‘Pineapple, or knife? Iceberg, or volcano?’ (6 March-23 March) Participating artists: Kjersti Andvig, Kristian Øverland Dahl, Trine Falch & Ingvild Holm, Marianne Hurum, Anette Stav Johannessen, Are Mokkelbost, Linn Anita Pedersen, Christina Peel, Kristian Skylstad & Vilde Skylstad, Ulf Styren, Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, Monica Winther and Tori Wrånes. Curators: Thora Dolven Balke, Ingvild Langgård and Eirin Støen.

Based on an idea of presenting ‘the Norwegian art world’ in a larger context, we have also included a book project in the exhibition. The book shop ‘One for the Books’, curated by the artist Marte Johnslien, will present and sell ‘artist books’ and other Norwegian and international books. The selection is both by and about Norwegian contemporary artists.

A catalogue is being published, which presents the exhibition through texts and pictures. These include ‘artist statements’ and articles written by young Norwegian artists, curators and critics: Power Ekroth, Erlend Hammer, Trude Iversen, Kjetil Røed, Leif Magne Tangen and Line Ulekleiv. In addition to these authors, we present a general overview of ‘how young Norwegian artists survive’: Ingrid Pettersen elucidates the intricacies of stipends, aid schemes and subsidies in relation to young Norwegian contemporary artists, and Ida Sannes Hansen presents an overview of Norwegian contemporary art and the commercial galleries involved in it.

The museum is arranging a series of lectures and panel discussions addressing the relation between the newer Norwegian contemporary art and ‘the global artworld’, ‘the new critics’, ‘private collectors’, ‘the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design’ and ‘the alternative art space’:

Programme in ’Hjørnerommet’
(all events in Norwegian unless otherwise announced)

Saturday 12 January
2 pm: Exhibition opening: LIGHTS ON – norsk samtidskunst
2 pm: Exhibition opening in the ‘guest room’:
Gallery BASTARD – Monumento Mori

Thursday 17 January
6 pm: Panel discussion:
The private art collector and contemporary art
Erling Kagge – art collector
Rolf Hoff – art collector
Moderator: Gunnar B. Kvaran – director Astrup Fearnley Museum

Thursday 24 January
6 pm: Panel discussion:
Norwegian art in a global context – on the internationalization of Norwegian contemporary art
Power Ekroth – curator and critic
Knut Åsdam – artist
Anne Szefer Karlsen – artist and curator
Øystein Aasan – artist
Moderator: Hanne Beate Ueland – curator, Astrup Fearnley Museum

Thursday 31 January
5 pm: Exhibition opening in the ‘guest room’:
Gallery BLUNK: “What there is and what you see”

6 pm: Eivind Furnesvik, Director STANDARD (Oslo):
“Home Is Where You’re Happy – on the Purposes, Secrets and Headaches of a private gallery”

Thursday 7 February
6 pm: Panel discussion:
Art outside the white cube – on the role of the alternative artist space
Erlend Hammer – curator and writer
Anders Smebye – artist and curator
Annette Kierulf – artist and curator
Hjørdis Kurås – artist and curator
Moderator: Hanne Beate Ueland – curator, Astrup Fearnley Museum

Sunday 10 Februrary
2 pm: Performance by Kristofer Henriksson:

Thursday 14 February
5 pm: Opening of art project in the ‘guest room’:
RAKETT: “Investigation of a Model of Influence – including use of subversive strategies and attempts of aesthetic practice and experience”.

Thursday 21 February
6 pm: Marta Kuzma, Director, OCA:
The Consciousness Projection – “Internationalized Art Community” as a Compound of Social Processes, Experiences, and Curiosity
The lecture will be held in English

Thursday 28 February
6 pm: Marianne Zamecznik, Managing Director Projekt 0047 and curator:
“Mysticism and Romanticism within Norwegian contemporary art”

Thurday 6 March
5 pm: Exhibition opening in the ’guest room’:
5:30pm: Performance
Gallery REKORD: “Pineapple, or Knife? Iceberg, or Volcano?”

6:15 pm: Panel discussion:
On the function of art criticism
Ina Blom – associate professor, University of Oslo, Art History Department
Trond Borgen – art critic, Stavanger Aftenblad
Jan Christensen – artist and curator
Jon-Ove Steihaug – art critic, Kulturnytt NRK
Moderator: Kåre Bulie – art commentator, Dagbladet

RAKETT – programme:

Friday 15 February at 1pm
What are politics, and what is the political function of art?
Espen Sommer Eide and Arne Skaug Olsen

French philosopher Jacques Rancière has tried to establish a new relation between aesthetics and politics through investigating the two by introducing the concept of ‘the distribution of the sensible’. Rancière uses this to reveal a shared aspect of the sphere of politics and the sphere of aesthetics. As an attempt to answer the questions posed above, Espen Sommer Eide and Arne Skaug Olsen invite the public to a collective reading of Rancières definition of the distribution of the sensible.

‘… the distribution of the sensible [is] the system of self-evident facts of sense perception that simultaneously discloses the existence of something in common and the delimitations that define the respective parts and positions within it.’

Arne Skaug Olsen is a visual artist, director of Flaggfabrikken and editor at Ctrl+Z Publishing House. Espen Sommer Eide is a musician and philosopher. As part of the musical projects Alog and Phonophani, he has released several albums on the record label Rune Grammofon.
If you want to take part, please send an email to before 15 February.

Saturday 16 February at 1pm
Who is Gerd Stern and what does he know about Michael Asher?
Michael Baers

How does institutional critique attempt to resituate the viewer’s perception of the institution and the art object? What limits are encountered when attempts are made to redefine the nature of something as concrete and structurally opaque as a museum, or as conceptually entrenched as normative definitions of ‘art’? More to the point, what is the lost psychedelic component of institutional critique? Michael Baers seeks to address these and other questions in a talk show with special guests and entertainment, psychedelic musings and, of course, an incisive interrogation of the nature and function of the museum and critical art practice. While preferring to let the connection between psychedelia and critical practice remain obscure for the moment, as a foretaste of the afternoon’s agenda, Baers introduces Timothy Leary’s concepts ‘set’ (as in ‘mindset’ or attitude) and ‘setting’ (ambience, décor, and music, particularly), the therapist’s principal tools in guiding the psychedelic experience. Museums also make use of set and setting in order to ideologically orient visitors in relation to art and its institutions. One might propose institutional critique as instituting a counter-setting, which then, hopefully, induces a counter-set. Come re-program your mind and the museum.

Michael Baers is an American artist based in Berlin who commonly works with publications and comics. He is currently collaborating with the Dutch publication Fucking Good Art on a comic about LSD and Switzerland for their upcoming ‘Swiss Issue’.

The event will be held in English.

Sunday 17 February at 1pm
Social Model, Open workshop
Søssa Jørgensen and Geir Tore Holm

This is an open workshop that practically investigates how contemporary art can function in relation to society and on its own terms. Why is art so important?

Geir Tore Holm (b.Tromsø, 1966) and Søssa Jørgensen (b. Oslo, 1968) live and work in Oslo, Gildeskål and Tromsø. They studied at the Art Academy in Trondheim (1995) and their individual artistic practices include video, performance and installations. The two have also curated, written about art and been art teachers. With Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Rirkrit Tiravanija, they started Sørfinnset skole/the Nord Land in 2003. Jørgensen has explored sound art since the mid 1990s through her collaborative project Ballongmagasinet. Holm has been project leader for the newly established Art Academy in Tromsø. They are both concerned with social responsibility and ecological thinking.

Installation images