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Norway to launch first public art biennial in 2019

Norway renders public art as a stage to address broad issues on human connection, freedom and environment.



Following the completion of a local project aimed at exploring the conditions of applying art in the public sphere, the city of Oslo is set to inaugurate its own international art biennial next year.

Curator-artists Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk will act as the organizers of the biennial. They were also behind the project that laid the framework for this event.

Oslo’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and Public Art Norway (KORO) provided the Oslo research project with a two million Norwegian kroner grant. A new rule implemented in the city that asks 0.5 percent of the municipality’s total investment to be poured out to encourage artistry in infrastructure and public space paved the way for the development of the project.

Additional funding for the project was provided by Norsk kulturråd, the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in The Hague, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in London, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Paris.

The underlying principle in establishing art in the public realm is that such setup offers a space for internalization. It may spark a broader discussion and reflection on the issues that make up and is inculcated in the society and its culture.

“By unfolding in public spaces, the biennial will activate the city and merge with its daily life in a way that will inspire and challenge both the art and its audiences,” Rina Mariann Hansen, the vice mayor of culture and sport in Oslo, said in a statement. 

Oslo's art in public aims to call on all visual artists to help elevate the city on a higher level.

Oslo’s art in public aims to call on all visual artists to help elevate the city on a higher level. (Source)

Likewise, the concept is hoped to place the art biennial in a unique spotlight. This is amid the increasing events that are keeping the art world in a bustle as shown in the handful of new ones that joined the fray this year.

Ole G. Slyngstadli, the biennial’s executive director, said Oslo’s “rich visual arts field” that can accommodate most of Norway’s community of visual artists will help take the biennial “to a new level.”

The inaugural edition is slated to debut in May next year, while the name, concept and format of the show will be revealed little by little throughout 2018.

An early look

However, a symposium entitled “The Giver, the Guest and the Ghost: The Presence of Art in Public Realms,” which was conducted in November 2016, may have offered a peek to the conceptual framework of the exhibition.

The three-day symposium featured select works of art that intend to set the tone for a discussion on the altering conditions and possibilities presented by creating art in public space.

One of the works that served as a case study during the event was Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn’s “Gramsci Monument, which was a graffiti-laden ramshackle set up in the Bronx.

The interactive structure was installed with a room of computers and another one filled with Italian Communist leader Antonio Gramsci’s letters and writings.

Hirschhorn built three other outdoor artwork’s in working-class neighborhoods. He said the Gramsci Monument aims to spur some self-empowerment to its audience, a concept rejected in a hegemonic worldview.

Angelique Moss is a London-based entrepreneur, writer, and traveller. The world of business, finance and investments, is her preferred cup of tea. She also keeps herself updated with the developments in technology, and likes to participate in discussions on health, art and media.

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