The curators Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk have been hired to head the preparatory project leading up to a large-scale periodic presentation of public art in Oslo. The two curators were selected from 102 applicants and have now been linked up to form a new curating duo by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Oslo. González-Sancho and Eeg-Tverbakk had never met each other before, but share a professional affinity for art in public spaces and a history of close co-operation with artists. Both have also headed the Lofoten International Art Festival (LIAF). Together, they have now assign a new name to the pre-project of what was originally called The Oslo Biennial of Public Art, but which is now renamed The Oslo-Pilot.
“The name suggests an explorative approach, pointing to how this is all about questioning the biennial format itself and about challenging what the concept of art in public space can entail. We regard this as an active, experimental process. Such a process is the only way for us to arrive at the structure of a future staging of public art, and this also requires close dialogue with Oslo’s practitioners within the field,” say the curators.
The preliminary Oslo-pilot project is backed by a budget of 2 million Norwegian kroner granted by the City of Oslo, and Public Art Norway (KORO) has contributed 500,000. Additional funds will be allocated to the project annually. Staging a municipal project on such a scale has been made possible by the new art scheme called Kunstordningen within the City of Oslo, which stipulates that 0.5% of the municipality’s total investment budgets must be earmarked for artistic production within all municipal construction projects, and this applies to buildings and outdoor spaces alike.
Spanish-born Eva Gonzalez-Sancho was director of the French Frac Bourgogne in Dijon from 2003 to 2011. In 2005 Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk was curator of Kunstneriske forstyrrelser (Artistic Interruptions), a project staged by the county of Nordland. Both curators emphasise the importance of being thoroughly familiar with the Oslo context in order to make the Oslo-pilot a research project about the phenomenon of public art and the biennial as an opportunity and a limitation. The curating team wish to engage the art scene through e.g. dialogue and discussion, and they envision the Oslo-pilot as materialising within the urban spaces of Oslo from the beginning of next year onwards. They do not rule out the possibility of international axes of collaboration, but at its core the project will be based in Oslo and take place outside of pre-existing art spaces.
“We won’t be cooped up behind closed doors, writing manifestos and reports. Only by getting out there and meeting people will we be able to see more clearly what will and should happen. The project must dive straight into actual reality and engage with issues associated with social and economic conditions in Oslo today,” says Eeg-Tverbakk.
“We want Oslo-pilot to be an important addition to the established art scene, and we ultimately want to create opportunities for art production. Oslo ranks very highly as an international art metropolis right now, and its art scene attracts a lot of attention. Even though there are a lot of under-funded art institutions the Oslo art scene is full of energy, insights, and unique artist-driven initiatives. One of the key questions is how the Oslo-pilot can enter into this landscape and contribute to further collaboration,” state Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk.