Which exhibitions, events and publications were the most important, most cutting-edge or most affecting of 2016? The Kunstkritikk Best of cavalcade sums up the art scene of 2016 in contributions written by our own staff and specially invited guests. Today’s contribution is by Milena Høgsberg, senior curator at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. She is currently working on Myths of the Marble, an exhibition on virtuality, opening 3 February 2017. Høgsberg is curator of LIAF 2017 alongside Heidi Ballet.
Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environment, Kunstnernes Hus.
I knew little about Gustav Metzger’s practice prior to experiencing his mesmerizingly luminous Liquid Crystal Environment at Kunstnernes Hus. I was fortunate enough to be alone in the gallery, allowed time to settle into the rhythm of the shifting colourful patterns of five large projections, viscerally present in the large space. Made in 1965, the psychedelic work anticipates digital expressions, yet retains all the fragility and instability of the analog: with their characteristic clicks, slide projectors produced the heat responsible for activating the liquid crystals. Metzger, now ninety years old, escaped Nazi Germany as a young boy, and has continued to insist on the role of idealism in society. In a Frieze interview this year, he noted that it is at the core of his work to “recharge the human being who can tend toward depletion or collapse”.
Deviating slightly from the prescribed format, I’d like to highlight practice over individual exhibitions. Oslo’s art scene would definitively be amiss without its artist-run spaces and their propositional productions. Now based in a former laundromat, Diorama is responsible for a pretty unique programme, reflecting the collaborative thinking of a group of artists with very diverse practices and interests: Anders Nordby and Arild Tveito (original founders), Martin Sæther, Stian Gabrielsen and Monika Olesko. While they don’t always keep the promised opening hours, hanging out on the stoop while someone bikes over the key is worth the wait. The programming is slow pace (thumbs up!) and unpredictable with no obvious names so far. The past year has seen exhibitions ranging from a show of paintings by Lise Soskolnesó, otherwise known for her important work with W.A.G.E, to a recent painting show by Calle Segelberg – Logo till 30-åriga kriget – confounded by a text by Gabrielsen.
The small exhibition space “Akademirommet” is an initiative by Kunstakademiet (Academy of Fine Art Oslo), which I hope will also be prioritized in the future. Programmed yearly by a group of students under the committed guidance of Rike Frank, independent curator and professor of Exhibitions Studies at the academy, it offers a space for experimenting with the myriad formats that might figure under the rubric of “exhibition”. 2016 highlights included Anna Daniell’s The flock of problems, which invited visitors to sit and look at a theatre of static sculptures for just under 5 minutes, and a in a compelling free flow conversation between Mike Sperlinger and visiting curator Nida Ghouse about the cinematographic tactic of panning to the sky. Last but not least, Akademirommet hosted works resulting from artist Andreas Bunte’s three-year research fellowship, and a conversation between him and his advisor Gerard Byrne. The fact that the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Program exists is brilliant! It sends the message that here is a society that still values artistic practice as knowledge production, and everything that happens in the process leading up to the presented work.
Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.
An American colleague sent me an article with the headline “How Indigenous Activists in Norway Got the First Bank to Pull Out of the Dakota Access Pipeline”. There is hope in this headline! I’ve been thinking about solidarity, community and generosity as elements in coping with the disturbing facts being thrown at us daily, after Trump began his transition into the oval office. During a time when politics are more on my mind than art, I feel appreciative of the initiatives that emphasize genuine exchange of ideas and process over final outcome.
Louise Dany, Oslo.
This fall, Louise Dany, a community platform for the sharing of ideas, opened in my neighbourhood. Artists Ina Hagen and Daisuke Kosugi generously host intimate events in their home, both closed and public, which stimulate the kind of laid-back atmosphere and conversations between strangers that makes you want to stick around for hours. Here ideas and practices can incubate, unfold over time, be contested and digested while a hot meal is shared. I enjoyed Sondra Perry’s reading group, Apichaya Wanthiang’s practice method workshop and the screening of Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy, the latter guest organized by Sara Yazdani and Kaveh Tehrani as part of Byflimmer.
Last but not least I should mention the event of three longer journeys to Lofoten, Tromsø, Finnmark and Kirkenes undertaken by Heidi Ballet and myself as part of our research for LIAF 2017. It made me very aware of my own blind spots when it comes to artists living and working in the North, and I am eager to spend more time above the Arctic Circle! Highlights included studio visits with Joar Nango, IMA READ and Silje Figenschou Thoresen.
Sometimes words hit you in the gut because they get to the heart of something deep in the contemporary. Poor Meme Rich Meme (aka Towards a Black Circulationism), by LA writer and artist Aria Dean, which I read very recently, was included in a fanzine assembled by Sondra Perry as part of her solo exhibition Resident Evil at The Kitchen in NYC, one of the strongest exhibitions I saw this year. Paraphrasing would rob this important text of its power, but I found it online: http://reallifemag.com/poor-meme-rich-meme/
”i American Apparel på
kunne ekspedienterne virke
utrygge over hvorvidt jeg
at halte rundt i det offentlige rum
med Cerebral Parese
i lige præcis deres kollektion”
(ripped from the Internet)
I was poking around the book shelves of an artist friend while she was preparing dinner and came across NIKE (2015), a long word flow by a 28 year old Danish poet about living with CP (Cerebral Palsy). I was fully absorbed until dinner was served, and brought the book home and finished it that night. I think the only way to get its full effect is to read it in one sitting, running with the anger and vulnerability of inhabiting an “imperfect body” in a society that lacks tolerance for the Other.
Lotte Konow Lund, Dagbøkene januar 2014 – februar 2016, Teknisk Industri, 2016, and Nina Strand, Zines on being an artist, 2016.
With a light, incisive pen, two Norwegian artists of different generations use personal observations to reflect on the role of the artist in their native tongue. Unafraid to speak her opinion, there is forcefulness, political conviction and humour in Konow Lund’s diaries, filled with portraits of colleagues, family and friends. The heavy black book resonates nicely with the fanzines of artist Nina Strand, who – under the apt titles Arbeid (Work), Kunstnerlønn (Artists Wages), and Age Before Beauty – strings together short narratives by coupling photographs with brief everyday and existential observations.