6 December

Which were the most notable art events of 2020? Today's list is by Oslo-based artist Ragnhild Aamås, a regular contributor to Kunstkritikk.

Ways of Seeing Collective, WOS-TV, 2020, still frame. Photo: Birgitte Sigmundstad.

Ways of Seeing Collective (Sara Baban, Hanan Benammar, Pia Maria Roll, Birgitte Sigmundstad), Ways of Seeing-TV (WOS-TV)

In WOS-TV, the team behind the play Ways of Seeing offer a satirical, yet accurate, report from the trial (a real whodunnit) of Laila Bertheussen, partner of a former government minister, as she stands accused of obstructing police investigations by fabricating threats and vandalising the couple’s own property. The play’s critique of moral corruption on the Norwegian right proved oracular: if anything, reality turned out to be even more nefarious and underhanded than fiction. WOS-TV also hangs the media’s biased attitudes towards non-mainstream forms of expression out to dry. A sense of schadenfreude is aroused by the “voxpop” feature in which facsimiles of works of art are waved in front of passers-by, who turn out to know a thing or two about art. A jaded artist’s sense of connection to the larger society is revived.

Linda Lamignan, Skaus: Phase 1, 2020, installation view, Rogaland Kunstsenter. Photo: Håvard Sagen.

Håvard Sagen, Markus Bråten, and Mari Kolbeinson, Skaus, Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger

Inside the exhibition hall at Rogaland Kunstsenter, visitors will find another hall reproducing the room’s original plan while keeping one metre clear of its walls. An identical hall stands on a site next to the former Tou breweries, now repurposed as a cultural venue. Throughout 2020, a total of eight artists have followed each other in steady succession at the two locations, presenting parallel exhibition programmes. The project was initiated by Håvard Sagen, Mari Kolbeinson, and Markus Bråten. Earlier this year, I seized the opportunity to see Linda Lamignan in the process of removing wall parts that became the basis of wax works for the programme’s first phase. Each new artist continued to work based on the conditions created by the preceding artists, with whom they did not communicate. This simultaneously intimate and impersonal exchange is eerily apposite to the general sense of isolation that has characterised 2020.

Jenna Sutela, I magma, 2019. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Aage A. Mikalsen.

Jenna Sutela, NO NO NSE NSE, Trondheim Kunsthall / Oslo Kunstforening, Trondheim and Oslo

I Magma (2019) from Jenna Sutela’s exhibition NO NO NSE NSE at Trondheim Kunsthall has been lurking on my phone since March, interrupting my daily comings and goings. After the exhibition reopened in the far cosier setting of Oslo Kunstforening – now made cave-like and alien by optical filters on the windows – the push notifications enabled by the app began arriving again. The fact that they consist of selected samples from religious texts gives the messages issued by this decentralised smartphone oracle a fawning and cloying surplus of significance: “If they are filled with doors?” “There was no one who had consulted dancing.” Who is this disavowing, absent entity?

Ragnhild Aamås is an artist based in Oslo, Norway, and a regular contributor to Kunstkritikk. She is currently (mostly) on maternity leave, but is also working on an edition for Karmaklubb*, and preparing an exhibition at Kunsthall Oslo for the spring of 2021 alongside fellow artists behind the artist-run exhibition venue Podium in Oslo.

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

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