Nordic News Weekly – November 16th

ARoS Art Museum under fire for not paying artists, anti-fascist conference at the Luleå Biennial, and other news from the Nordic art field this week.

Tue Greenfort, Milk demonstration, 2014. From the exhibition Cool, Calm and Collected, ARoS Art Museum, 2017. Foto: Roman März. Courtesy of König Galerie.

The question of whether artists should be paid when exhibiting works in museums has become a hot topic in Denmark. When Radio24syv confronted AroS Art Museum in Aarhus with their practice of not paying artists, chief curator Lise Pennington responded that exhibiting older works does not involve any labour or expenses for the artists concerned, and that they receive recompense from the Danish Arts Foundation. Nis Rømer of the artists’ union Billedkunstnernes Forbund contests this, saying: “A recompense is not a fee. It only covers the lending of the work, and an exhibition often involves much more work”. Pennington also told Radio24syv that the museum pays a fee when showing new works or performances, but the journalist had spoken to several artists who produced new works for ARoS’ exhibition Cool, Calm and Collected in 2017, none of whom were paid. When artist duo Hesselholdt & Mejlvang gave a performance at a dinner at the museum last year, the compensation for their work consisted of two candlesticks from the museum shop. ARoS has not yet responded to this.

Agnieszka Polska, What the Sun has Seen (video still), 2017.

Anti-fascist conference AT the Luleå Biennial

The Luleå Biennial 2018 opens on Saturday November 17thin the coastal town of Luleå in northern Sweden. Dormant for five years, the biennial was established in 1991 and is the oldest visual art biennial in Sweden. This years’ edition is curated by Emily Fahlén, Asrin Haidari and Thomas Hämén, extending across a large area of Sápmi, all the way to Jokkmokk and Kiruna. The curators have taken the history of the region of Norrbotn as their point of departure: “The Luleå Biennial started out as an event for the local community, not for the art world. It was important for us to relate to the history of self-organisation by being responsive to the needs and interests of the place”, they told Kunstkritikk. In February, the biennial will also organise a conference on anti-fascist resistance. The list of artists includes 37 local and international artists, such as Agnieszka Polska, Ingela Ihrman, Francis Alÿs, Raqs Media Collective and Britta Marakatt-Labba. Read the story in Swedish here.

Bergen has an Art Academy again

The Department of Art at Bergen University has been renamed The Art Academy – Department of Contemporary Art. The institution has a long history of merges and name changes. In 1996, as a result of the so-called College Reform, which sought to minimize the number of colleges and standardise higher education in Norway, The West Coast Art Academy (Vestlandets Kunstakademi, VKA) merged with the College of Crafts and Design (Statens Høgskole for Kunsthåndverk og Design, SHKD) to form the new Art College of Bergen. Twenty years later the Art College was incorporated into Bergen University after yet another structural reform in the sector. The academy label has traditionally been associated with a more autonomous model of education, especially in terms of teaching and evaluation, than the more structured college model. In a press release from the University, Aashild Grana, who is head of the new art academy, says that “the name art academy is an old and internationally known term, which signals exactly what and who the department is”.

Oskar Kokoschka, Marquis Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac, 1910. Foto: Prallan Allsten / Moderna Museet.

Nazi-tainted Kokoschka painting sells at record price

A painting by the German expressionist Oskar Kokoschka that was formerly in the collection of Sweden’s Moderna Museet was sold in New York this week by the auction house Sotheby’s. The lot sold for 20.4 million dollars, a record-breaking result for the artist. The Swedish Nationalmuseum acquired the work Marquis Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1910) in 1934, and it was transferred to the Moderna Museet when it was established in 1958. However, research into the paintings’ history revealed that it had been looted from the private collection of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim in 1933, and that the Nationalmuseum bought it from the Düsseldorf gallerist Alex Vömel, a member of the Nazi party. Moderna Museet chose to hand over the painting to Flechtheim’s heirs in September this year. Several museums have had to look into the histories of their collections in recent years in order to ensure that works are not tainted by Nazi-era lootings. In 2014, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Norway returned a painting by Henri Matisse to the family of the Jewish art collector Paul Rosenberg, from whom the work was confiscated in the 1930s. According to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladetthere are other works in Moderna Museet’s collection that may possibly be traced back to Flechtheim, amongst them Paul Klee’s Stufen (1929) and Nils Dardel’s The art dealer Alfred Flechtheim (1913).

Anti-fascists sell police indictments as art

The Norwegian artist Anders Eiebakke is selling five police indictments given to himself and four other anti-fascist activists as framed works of art. Eiebakke and his fellow activists were fined after a brawl with the nationalist group known as the Nordic Resistance Movement in Fredrikstad in October this year. In a public post on Facebook, Eiebakke writes: “The framed original is the joint work of me and four comrades, laser print on paper with stamp and police hand writing. The minimum price of 45,000 NOK will cover the combined fines.”

Appointments on the Norwegian art scene

Svein Bjørkås. Foto: Marte Garmann/KORO.

In Oslo, Svein Bjørkås will continue as director of KORO Public Art Norway for four more years. A sociologist, Bjørkås has had several leading positions in higher education and research before starting at KORO in 2013. In Bergen, Ingrid Haug Erstad has been appointed to the position of acting director for Bergen Assembly 2019, succeeding Haakon Thuestad, who took up the position as Director of Communication at KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes. Erstad is a curator and has worked on the two previous editions of the Bergen Assembly in different capacities.