Nordic News Weekly – June 28th

Social Democrat Joy Mogensen becomes Denmark’s new minister of culture, curators named for Alt_CPH 2020, and other news from the Nordic art field.

Borgmester i Roskilde Kommune, Joy Mogensen. Foto: Kristian Brasen for Roskilde Kommune.

When Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (Social Democrats) announced her list of new ministers on Thursday morning, one of the surprises was the appointment of Joy Mogensen as minister of culture. Coming from a position as the mayor of Roskilde, Mogensen is not yet a member of the Danish parliament, but she is known as a strong social democratic figure and loyal supporter of Frederiksen’s immigrant-sceptic party line. On Wednesday, a so-called “understanding”(forståelsespapir) between the left-wing parties which form the basis of the new government was released, but the word culture was not mentioned in the eighteen-page-long paper. In an interview with the social democratic news website Pio a few months back, Mogensen explained her concept of culture: “Everywhere else, we are workers, pupils, teachers, clients, government officials, and everything else, but the prerequisite for that to work is that sometimes we are just people together. In culture,we are just that, whether it is music, sports, literature, visual art, etc., and without that, everything else breaks apart.” Among her first tasks as the minister of culture is a renegotiation of the media agreement, which last year led to cuts of 770 millionDKK (104 million EUR) in the budget of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), and a new museum reform. However, it may take a while before the new minister will take office, as Mogensen is expecting a child in October, just as the parliament opens again after the summer break. Joy Mogensen, 38 years old, has a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Encounters from University of Roskilde and has studied Modern Culture and Cultural Communication at University of Copenhagen.

Miriam Wistreich, Dea Antonsen,and Ida Bencke, from Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, will curate Alt_Cph 2020. Photo: Signe Munk Bencke.

Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology appointed as curators of Alt_Cph 2020

The Danish think tank, exhibition platform, and publisher Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology will be curating the next edition of the biennial Alt_Cph, whic hwill take place in the spring of 2020. The Laboratory consists of several members, but the curators of the biennial will be Dea Antonsen, Ida Bencke, and Miriam Wistreich, who according to the press release will create an exhibition focusing on the relations between traditional craft techniques – embroidery, knitting, and weaving – and contemporary technology. The exhibition will look at how weaving codes have inspired computer algorithms, or how crochet mimics biological growth principles that have been decisive for complex mathematical equations. Alt_Cph, which takes place at The Factory for Art & Design, has existed as an alternative art fair for artist-run and non-profit spaces since 2006. In 2018, it changed format from art fair to biennial. Read the story in Danish here.

The new National Gallery in Oslo is scheduled to open in 2020. Illustration: MIR kommunikasjon / Kleihues + Schuwerk / Statsbygg.

Criticism of working conditions at the new National Museum in Oslo

When the new National Museum in Oslo is finished next year, the roof on the technical floor will be so low–with only 165 cm from floor to ceiling in the lowest parts –that maintenance and service workers cannot stand upright. Advisor for the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Jonas Bals describes the conditions as a symbol of the way society looks down upon workers. “For many years, the signal to working people has been that they are going down: Down in wages, down in living standards, down in working conditions. Then it is logical that the end result will be a floor where they have to kneel down to be able to do their job,” Bals said to the online news outlet Vårt Oslo. According to Birgitte Bye, communications manager for Statsbygg, the Norwegian government’s acting body in construction and property affairs, themuseum’s technical floor is not to be understood as a room, but as a horizontal technical shaft to bring infrastructure into the building. “It is important to point out that this is not a place where people will work, but an entry for repairs and other things,” she argues.

When Vera Sandberg (1895–1979), centre right in this photo, started at Chalmers she was the only woman among 500 male students. Photo: Chalmers.

Gothenburg gets its third statue of a named female

This week, artist Jan Cardell’s bronze statue of Vera Sandberg – the first female engineer in Sweden – was inaugurated. According to the newspaper Göteborgsposten, it is the city’s third statue of a named female. The statue, titled Vera’s laboration (Vera’s lab), is four-metres high, weighs four-hundredkilos, and has lighting and fifteen welded mobile parts. The inauguration marks the centenary of female voting rights in Sweden, which coincides with the fact that it was a hundred years ago that Sandberg graduated from the city’s Chalmers University of Technology. Art critic at Göteborgsposten, Boel Ulfdotter emphasises that Cardell’s statue of Sandberg is dressed roughly as women were a century ago, but that the choice of a knitted blouse also situates her “in our time and current contemporary history of learned women.” “It is simply an ingenious stroke by the artist in his quest to depict an active woman of her time in the here and now,” Ulfdotter writes.