‘Readers want texts that cut through the noise’

Mariann Enge’s term as Kunstkritikk’s editor-in-chief has been renewed for four years.

Editor-in-chief of Kunstkritikk, Mariann Enge. Photo: Kristian Skylstad.

Mariann Enge has been appointed editor-in-chief of Kunstkritikk for a new four-year term after the position was advertised earlier this year. Enge is very pleased to have been trusted to continue the work for another period. “It is privilege to be able to work with something I am genuinely interested in, and to be able to do so within the highly competent and thoroughly professional editorial environment at Kunstkritikk. Also, I still feel as if I have a lot left to do – ranging from completing just-launched projects to acting on looser ideas – so having to stop now would have been frustrating,” she said.

This will be Enge’s second term as head of the journal. A trained literary scholar, Enge has worked as a writer and editor at various Nordic online literary journals and was a poetry reviewer for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten (2002–2008). She has been associated with Kunstkritikk since 2009, first as acting editor for a period of six months, then as editorial secretary before taking over as editor-in-chief from Jonas Ekeberg in 2020.

The departing chair of the Kunstkritikk foundation, Stephan Granhaug, stated that the board is very happy that Enge accepted a new term as general manager and editor-in-chief. With Enge at the helm, he feels confident that the journal and its key role for art criticism in Norway and the Nordics is in safe hands. “Throughout the hiring process, we have also talked about how the journal can evolve further and play an even more important role for the art field and art criticism in the future. The board and the rest of the staff are all looking forward to tackling this in the upcoming period.”

Enge assures readers that for the next four years, Kunstkritikk will continue to deliver multi-genre articles that are interesting, relevant, and rich in perspective, all while emphasising the importance of focusing on quality and accuracy. “It may sound obvious, but in an era infused by a ceaseless pursuit of clicks, actively adopting and maintaining a position of not resorting to simple and quick solutions is crucially important. I also believe that this is what readers truly want: texts that cut through the noise and provide reading experiences that expand their consciousness in one way or another.”

Furthermore, Enge is interested in art’s importance and impact on society. She emphasises that, given the challenging times we are living through, with climate crisis, war, and fascism on the rise, Kunstkritikk must reflect and cultivate the unique properties of art as well as its potential for social critique. “I believe it is crucial for us to continue to deliver not only serious analytical criticism founded in professional insights, but also texts that take a critical stance on the times in which we live, the times that shape and are shaped by art,” she said.

According to Enge, Kunstkritikk’s position as a Nordic-international journal gives it a particular responsibility now that freedom of expression is under serious threat in many countries, including in Western democracies such as Germany and the United States. “In the Nordics, we can still largely express what we think without being afraid of losing our jobs and assignments. Unfortunately, this is not something we can take for granted, and that gives us a particular obligation to act.”

The Nordic profile also means that Kunstkritikk enjoys a unique position in terms of discussing Indigenous art, Enge thinks. She highlights the two-year project Indigenous Criticism, supported by Arts Council Norway, which aims to educate and develop the editors’ as well as the readers’ competences in the area, and to recruit more writers with an Indigenous background. Kunstkritikk has also received support from the Fritt Ord Foundation to write about international trends in art and social life. “We have already published a powerful report from the West Bank in Palestine written by artist Jannik Abel, and over the course of the coming year we will cover a number of international art events.”

Other plans for Kunstkritikk over the next four years include arranging more live events such as panel discussions and seminars. “The critical scene established by Kunstkritikk constitutes a resource that we have a particular responsibility for cultivating, expanding, and developing further, and I think that an important aspect of that work is having people meet in real life. This partly means getting our writers in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland to meet, and partly arranging more opportunities for us meeting the public,” Enge said.

Last year, Kunstkritikk became part of a Nordic-Baltic network for art journals initiated by the Lithuanian website Artnews.lt, which has just received funding for several conferences in the coming years, and Enge hopes that one of these will take place in Oslo.