Nordic News Weekly – March 22nd

Norwegian artists mobilise, the first comprehensive Greta Knutson-Tzara exhibition, and new initiatives in Copenhagen: a kunsthalle and yet another commercial art fair.

From the play Ways of Seeing by Pia Maria Roll, Hanan Benammar, Sara Baban, and Marius von der Fehr at Black Box, 2018. Photo: Leif Gabrielsen.

“At the expense of freedom of expression, the Prime Minister chose to protect power structures and the politicians closest to her,” said chair of the Young Artists’ Society (UKS), Ruben Steinum, to Kunstkritikk, referring to Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s (Conservative Party) statements in the Norwegian daily Dagbladet on 13 March. Solberg criticised the artists behind the play Ways of Seeing for screening unauthorised footage of the properties of Norwegian right-wing politicians like the Minister of Justice and Immigration, Tor Mikkel Wara (Progress Party). “As politicians, we must expect to be called out for the things we say and do, but it feels worse when our families and homes are affected. I actually think that the authors of this play should think about how they make being a politician in Norway more difficult,” Solberg said to Dagbladet, adding that the artists should “have enough spine to realise that.” The conflict started last November. After the play’s premiere at the small independent theatre Black Box in Oslo, Wara’s partner, Laila Anita Bertheussen, published an article accusing the directors of having invaded her home and private life. She later filed a police report against the artists. Subsequently, as their property was vandalised several times through the winter, Wara and others insinuated that the vandalism was inspired by the play. However, on 14 March, the story took an unexpected and dramatic turn as Bertheussen herself was charged by The Norwegian Police Security Service for having set Wara’s car on fire, thus staging one of the “attacks.” She denies the charges and is now under investigation. Prime Minister Solberg has since met massive criticism for not defending the artists or their freedom of expression, and for refusing to apologise. Tomorrow, 23 March, UKS and other artist’s organisations will organise demonstrations in Oslo and several other cities in defence of artistic freedom of expression. Read the story in Norwegian here

Greta Knutson-Tzara, Interior with woman and child, the 1940s. Photo: Norrköpings Konstmuseum.

First comprehensive Greta Knutson-Tzara exhibition

Saturday, 23 March sees the opening of the first comprehensive presentation of the Swedish artist Greta Knutson-Tzara (1899-1983). As part of a larger project of highlighting forgotten female artists, Norrköpings Konstmuseum seeks to broaden the view on Knutson-Tzara’s art with a research-based exhibition. Greta Knutson settled in Paris in 1920 to study with André Lhote. While there, she met the leader of the Dada movement, Tristan Tzara, whom she married. They separated in the late 1930s, but Knutson has since been associated with Tzara. According to the museum’s presentation, Knutson-Tzara connected with modernist tendencies like abstraction, Post-Cubism, and Surrealism in her art, but chose her own path. “When we started this research project three years ago, we could not foresee a presentation containing this much material,” said Martin Sundberg, curator of collections at the museum and author of a new book about Greta Knutson-Tzara, in a press statement. “One can see her ever-changing oeuvre. She sought resistance and wanted to develop, and when things went too smoothly, she pursued new directions,” adds the exhibition’s curator, Helena Scragg. The exhibition contains drawings, paintings, and sculptures produced over six decades, many of them displayed for the first time.

Code Art Fair 2016.

A new art fair in Copenhagen

This year, a new commercial art fair will launch in Copenhagen. Just like the two already existing art fairs, Chart Art Fair and Code Art Fair, the newcomer Enter Art Fair will take place during the last weekend of August. The name of the fair, Enter, refers to its focus on virtual and digital experience. According to its homepage, the fair wants to reach out to emerging collectors and younger art lovers who are part of a generation that navigates effortlessly in the digital world. Interestingly, the team behind Enter is largely identical with the team that for the last two years has been running Code. What then happens with Code is, of course, an issue. “We find it hard to imagine that Code will continue to exist as we knew it, because we created Enter to meet the demands that emerged, among others, from galleries that were formerly a part of Code,” said Julie Alf, director of Enter Art Fair, to Kunstkritikk. Director of Code Art Fair, Kristian W. Andersen, says that future plans will soon be revealed. Read the story in Danish here

A bicycle basement close to Ørestad Station in Copenhagen will be converted into a kunsthalle. Photo: CPH City & Port Development.

From bicycle basement to subterranean kunsthalle

In the Ørestad district of Copenhagen, a group of young visual artists, Jan S. Hansen, Toke Flyvholm, Christian Vindelev, and Markus von Platen, are engaged in turning a 875-square-metre basement storage room for bicycles into a kunsthalle for contemporary art. Having recently received one million DKK (130,000 EUR) in funding from the philantropic association Realdania, Ørestad Kunsthal is now closer to realisation. The project also receives some funding from the City of Copenhagen and other sources, and the owner of the subterranean venue, CPH City & Port Development, contributes 600 000 DKK (80,000 EUR) and guarantees that Ørested Kunsthal will have rent-free disposal of the premises for a minimum of ten years. In a press statement, the artist group said that their vision is to create a locally based exhibition space, showing art at an international level: “We will exhibit both established and lesser-known artists from home and abroad, to create synergy across borders, generations, and positions. We will provide relevant cultural experiences and give Ørestad an artistic meeting point that the district lacks. We believe that art should be present in all of Copenhagen’s neighborhoods and strongly believe in art as a connection in our common everyday life,” the group said.