24 December

Kunstkritikk’s Editor-in-Chief Mariann Enge shares three of the art events that were most important to her this year.

Marius Wang, Untitled Amanita, Hvitsten salong 2021. Photo: Cronje Martti.

Hvitsten Salong 2021, Hvitsten

Spending a couple of summer days at an art festival in idyllic Hvitsten, complete with all that this entailed in terms of tenting, swimming, performance art, and outdoor concerts, was truly liberating after the lockdown that characterised much of the spring season in Oslo. The artist-run “salon” has been arranged in this small corner of the Oslo Fjord every year since 2014, but this was the first time I managed to get there, thanks to a friend who had rented a car and brought me along. In previous years, the art has been shown in the forest. This time, due to a conflict with the landowner, the people of Hvitsten made their gardens available for the project. Thus, encounters with local eccentrics became part of the art experience.

Elisabeth Haarr, Flyktningeteppe: Vinterreise, 2020. Installation view from the Festival Exhibition in Bergen Kunsthall. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.

Elisabeth Haarr, Festival Exhibition, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen

This year’s Festival Exhibition was a generous presentation of an oeuvre characterised by strong artistic integrity. Throughout her more than fifty years as an active artist, Elisabeth Haarr has worked with textiles as her primary medium, creating works endowed with clear feminist and political commitments. Among the works made especially for the Festival Exhibition was the series Flyktningtepper (Refugee Rugs, 2020), five large, double-sided collages made out of duvet covers, newsprint, rainwear, gift wrap, and other materials. These works represent a level of care that present-day refugees generally do not encounter when trying to cross Europe’s borders, turning the collages into banners of protest or metaphors for a more humane refugee policy.

This is our body, performance during AMIFF in Harstad October 15. Hanan Benammar and Bel Chorus. Photo: Kristian Skylstad (curator of the festival).

Hanan Benammar, Aqqalu Berthelsen, Cynthia Pitsiulak, et al., This Is Our Body, Arctic Moving Image and Film Festival, Harstad

How should we respond to the history of colonisation and the colonial structures that persist today? With the collective performance This Is Our Body, the artist Hanan Benammar joined forces with musician Aqqalu Berthelsen, throat singer Cynthia Pitsiulak, the choir Bel Chorus, and a range of other local participants to provide an inspiring artistic approach to these questions. The performance was a reckoning with the colonisation of Kalaallit Nunaat initiated by the “Apostle of Greenland,” pastor Hans Egede, three hundred years ago. Egede was born and raised in Harstad and baptised in Trondenes church, and now his body – in the form of bread sculptures – has also been ritually buried in the sea nearby. Simply put, this is a work that makes a difference.

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