Art cities to watch 2021: Oslo, Norway – ARTnews.com
For a glimpse of what lies ahead as the art world looks to the future, ARTnews devoted part of the June-July 2021 issue of the magazine to 10 cities to watch: Philadelphia, Atlanta, Vancouver, Guadalajara, Bogotá, Oslo, Tallinn, Casablanca, Abu Dhabi and Taipei. Stay tuned as each city will be joining the Seoul and Paris related reports online in the coming weeks.
Long regarded as a destination for artists thanks to relatively cheap real estate and strong national funding for the arts, Oslo is now established as a leading art center in Scandinavia with the potential to rise even higher after the inauguration of two large museum extensions on the horizon. The city is also home to a rewarding activity outside the walls of institutions, with more and more young artists drawn to the promise of alternative spaces and new ways of showing their work to audiences near and far.
The expanding museums march
Two museums in the Norwegian capital, the Munch Museum and the national museum– are about to complete massive expansion efforts that will see them grow considerably in size and scope. The stakes are high: If major institutions are able to attract more Norwegians and visitors from afar, growth could help propel Oslo’s art scene into the ranks of London, Paris and Berlin as one of the big European capitals of art.
With a previously delayed opening now slated for fall, the new $ 314 million Munch Museum building will be slightly above the Port of Oslo and house more than 283,000 square feet of space over 13 floors, which in fact one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to an individual artist. Meanwhile, the National Museum is on track to add more than 107,000 square feet through a sparkling expansion slated to open in 2022.
All impatient eyes in the short term will be on the Munch Museum, which houses a version of The Scream and many of Edvard Munch’s most famous works, which move from a sleepy neighborhood on the outskirts of Oslo to the heart of the city. (Its reopening is particularly anticipated as the beloved museum has been closed since early 2019.) According to Stein Olav Henrichsen, director of the museum since 2010, the move signifies a growing sense of partnership between institutions like the National Museum and the Astrup Fearnley Museum. of Modern Art, a private company run by Norway’s biggest collector. “The greatest museums, the greatest builders, we are all here together to develop this part of the city in a very systematic way where culture is at the center, ”said Henrichsen.
Set a new standard
When it comes to expanding the Oslo market, which focuses on relatively few galleries and a small but growing coterie of collectors, one operation has paved the way: Standard (Oslo). Since its founding in 2005, the gallery has become known for the steel-like and highly polished aesthetic of its international artists, which include stars like Tauba Auerbach, Ian Cheng, Alex Hubbard, and Josh smith. But Standard (Oslo) is also important in supporting the growth of Norwegian artists. Just before representing Norway at the Venice Biennale in 2005, Matias Faldbakken had one of his first solo exhibitions at the gallery. Torbjørn Rødland, a creator of clean, ad-like photographs with a surreal twist, has exploded to international fame, and Kim Hiorthøy, who is well known in Oslo’s vaunted electronic music scene, has amassed a fan base from the art world through a series of solo exhibitions.
By hosting such artists, Standard (Oslo) also helped give aspiring artists a vision of what it might look like to be a success. “For many years there was this brain drain where people thought they had to move to Berlin,” said gallery founder Eivind Furnesvik. “But now the artists stay here. “
The potential pool of local collectors has also evolved. “We never started the gallery thinking there was a collector base here,” Furnesvik said. In 2005, Norwegian buyers only accounted for 5% of the gallery’s sales, but by 2020 that number had risen to 30%. According to Furnesvik, the growing interest of national collectors will help support emerging artists on their journey. And the new galleries have worked to expand the reach of the market, with Galleri Golsa and Contemporary OSL showing alongside Standard (Oslo) at smaller fairs. Furnesvik described an ever-growing sense of momentum: “Slowly but surely”, he said, “there are young art dealers starting up”.
The Biennale Circuit, at home and abroad
In 2019, Oslo had its own unorthodox biennial in the form of osloBIENNALEN, a large, largely open-air festival dedicated to art in the public sphere and designed to evolve “with different temporalities, rhythms and durations”. Of the 30 artists included in the first edition, around a third were from Norway. Unlike the Venice Biennale, which sees the whole world as its target audience, osloBIENNALEN is primarily aimed at Norwegian citizens. “It’s a way to ensure interaction with the community, and it will become a more interesting dialogue,” said Ole G. Slyngstadli, executive director of osloBIENNALEN. The list of artists for the first edition included 10 Norwegians – “and there are 1,500 registered artists living in Oslo,” Slyngstadli noted. “The other 1,490 were a bit disappointed. “
Although the osloBIENNALEN was designed as a program spanning five-year cycles, with the first scheduled to run until 2024, the pandemic cut it short and marked 2021 as the end. Plans for the next one are yet to be made, but Slyngstadli said he was hopeful for the future of a company that captured attention from its first release.
To a certain extent, the osloBIENNALEN continues the momentum of the Venice Biennale, where the Nordic pavilion has pushed new boundaries in recent years. At the next edition in Venice in 2022, the Nordic offer will be renamed the Sami Pavilion and will feature three artists of Sami origin – Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara and Anders Sunna – in homage to the indigenous Sami population living in the north . from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. “It will be a historic occasion, as never before has the Nordic Pavilion showcased the work of Sami artists, nor recognized them as a nation,” said Katya García-Antón, director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, the Oslo-based entity that has commissioned the Nordic Pavilion since 2003. The aim is to draw attention to an aspect of the local culture that is less well known to the world, García-Antón said, and to present the Nordic region as “the vibrant scene it is today.”
Commitment to the community
When the space managed by artists Podium was founded in 2004, the art exhibited was often secondary to the festivities that took place there. “The spaces managed by artists were a kind of
community focused on coming together – drinking alcohol, partying, going out, ”said Ayatgali Tuleubek, who runs Podium with Ragnhild Aamås, Lesia Vasylchenko and Ignas Krunglevičius. “The openings would last until morning.”
Since then, spaces like Podium have become more professional, Tuleubek said, but the goal remains the same: to give artists a chance to succeed in a system that can be off-putting for those looking to gain a foothold. “There is still a gap between the academy and the established institutions,” Vasylchenko said. “There aren’t that many places you can exhibit your work if you’re a young artist or an emerging artist.”
With the support of Arts Council Norway and other publicly funded organizations, the artist-run spaces served as incubators. Sandra Mujinga, Pakui Hardware, and Emilija karnulytė, who have all appeared in major international biennials in recent years, had some of their first shows at Podium. And other spaces of this type are attracting more and more attention. “The institutions understand, because they want to help us move forward,” said Mechu Rapela, Managing Director of Tenthaus, a non-profit collective and exhibition space created in 2009 with a focus less on physical art exhibitions and more on research-driven initiatives that involve artists. (Tuleubek and Vasylchenko recently attended.)
As Oslo continues to develop, such spaces continue with the hope of uplifting artists above all else. As Ebba Moi, founding member of Tenthaus, said, “It’s a great way to network when you’re new. “