18 December

Artist Ane Hjort Guttu shares three unique and intimate exhibition experiences from 2021.

The Great Indoors, MFA degree show, 2021. Oslo National Academy of the Arts – The Academy of Fine Art, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo. Photo: Istvan Virag.

The Great Indoors, MFA degree show, Oslo National Academy of the Arts – The Academy of Fine Art, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo

This was the degree show that no one saw, except those who took part in it. Kunstnernes Hus was closed throughout the period, but the students were allowed to occupy the skylight halls from morning to night for three weeks. Here, they engaged in conversations, readings, trips, play, cooking, handicrafts, growing plants, writing poems, spontaneous sculptures, collective drawing, and table tennis. The Great Indoors came across as artistic practice stripped of all the tedious bits (display, works, audience, press, sales, communication, anxiety, and so on) but with the core intact (work, process, collaboration, spontaneity) – a perfect pedagogical manifestation of what art education is really about, and at the same time a healing process since most were exhausted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, no outsiders could access this; I myself was lucky enough to be invited over for a meal one evening. Records can be seen on the website, but as we know, the internet can never replace real life.

SPERRA – en leilighetsutstilling, 2021. Installation view, Guttormgaard’s Archive, Blaker. Photo: Istvan Virag.

SPERRA – en leilighetsutstilling, Guttormgaard’s Archive, Blaker

SPERRA – en leilighetsutstilling (Closed – an apartment exhibition) at the former dairy at Blaker showed works by selected artists installed in the flat belonging to artist Guttorm Guttormsgaard (who left us in the autumn of 2019). Due to the pandemic, emphasis was placed on guided tours for a maximum of four people at a time, conducted by curator and art historian Ellef Prestsæter. We sat around a table and listened to Ellef while flipping through books, inspecting various objects, or letting them go the rounds among us. Guttormsgaard’s archive creates a rare feeling of connectedness through art history, of how all the different objects – Stone Age implements, wooden toys made by Russian prisoners of war, or fine-art prints by Bendik Riis (1911–1988) – are linked by a common human sensibility. Encountering these things offers information and knowledge, but first and foremost meaning.

Germain Ngoma, Listening Through the Walls, 2021. Wax, brick, fungus, honeycomb, locking rings. Photo: Øystein Thorvaldsen.

Germain Ngoma, Fragmental Memories, Tenthaus, Oslo

Several presentations of Germain Ngoma’s art are in the pipeline. Tenthaus is currently showing three recent works, but what I would like to especially highlight is the experience of sitting in the kitchen at Tenthaus flipping through the absolutely fantastic book about Ngoma’s art that was published recently. Called Germain Ngoma: Photography & Sculptural Experiments, 1982–2009, the book consists almost exclusively of the artist’s own slides from the beginning of the 1980s to the present day: grainy documentation of sculptures haphazardly placed in seemingly random, untidy spaces. Ngoma has worked with sculpture for over forty years, and the book poignantly and precisely captures a sculptural practice that is consistently subject to its own processes, given that most of the sculptures no longer exist. Ngoma’s simultaneously light-hearted and deeply serious examination of volumes and the infinite colour spectrum of grey surfaces photographed with slide film combined with the brewed coffee at Tenthaus to create a completely unique exhibition experience. All this leads me to conclude that intimate formats are underestimated; if nothing else, Covid has taught me this much: what goes on between a few people, or just between a person and an object, is both poetic and serious.

Ane Hjort Guttu is an artist based in Oslo. Her latest work is the short film Manifest, which has received accolades such as the Critics Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. In 2022, she will launch her new feature film VOICE. Guttu is also active as a writer and a professor at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts – The Academy of Fine Art.

For this year’s contributions to the Advent Calendar, see here.