Nordic News Weekly – April 12th

Måns Wrange is elected the new principal of Oslo National Academy of the Arts, a new konsthall opens in Stockholm, and other news from the Nordic art field.

Måns Wrange and Anne-Linn Akselsen, the newly elected principal and deputy principal at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Thursday 4 April the students and staff at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO) chose the Swedish artist and curator Måns Wrange as their new principal. Wrange, who previously served as the head of Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2008–2014, will take over from Jørn Mortensen, who has held the position for the past four years. One week prior to the election, a text criticising the school’s handling of sexual harassment charges appeared on the stairs to the management’s office. “It seemed more important to you to remove the text on the outside than the pigs on the inside,” it read, mimicking another text that appeared on the same stairs in August last year. A few days later, in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, the three unions at the school expressed their members’ concerns regarding the lack of democracy and co-determination among school staff. In his election program, Wrange proposed a number of measures against discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse of power, based on his experience from Stockholm. The new principal will take office in August.

Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze’s film The Invisible Hand of My Father (2019) is part of the opening exhibition at Mint.

Mint Konsthall opens in Stockholm

This Friday 12 April Mint Konsthall will open in the basement of ABF (Workers’ Educational Association) Stockholm, a centre for public education. The new venue is in the former location of Sveagalleriet, a renowned exhibition space that closed twenty-seven years ago. Mint will take over the space on the initiative of curators Emily Fahlén and Asrin Haidari, who also curated the 2018 Luleå Biennal. They will collaborate with ABF Stockholm, Konstfrämjandet (People’s Movements for Art Promotion), and The Worker’s Movement’s archive. The first exhibition at Mint will examine ABF’s history as a worker’s federation, and will also focus on what happens after work: leisure time and retirement. The exhibition will include the new film The Invisible Hand of My Father (2009) by the Georgian artist Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze. The work tells the story of his father’sright hand, which he lost in a work-relatedaccident in Portugal. According to the curators, the hand floats like a spirit over his retired life in the Caucasian mountains, reminding viewers of ever-changing economical landscapes, from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the 2008 global financial crisis.

Senior adviser Rolf Engelsen of Arts Council Norway has worked on developing the area of cultural journals and criticism.

Better funding for cultural journals and criticism

Arts Council Norway has adopted a new strategic plan and a new support scheme for cultural journals and criticism. “Cultural journals and criticism have been overlooked in cultural politics and heavily underfunded for many years. This strategic plan is a platform for future growth for the field,”  said Rolf Engelsen, senior advisor at Arts Council Norway, to Kunstkritikk. In the new, three-part support scheme, journals and critics can apply for funding for production, projects, and events. It will not be possible to apply for operational support, but the five journals which until now have received this type of long-term and stable support – Kunstkritikk included – will not be left more vulnerable with the new scheme, according to Engelsen. All the Arts Council’sprevious support schemes for cultural journals and criticism have been incorporated into the new plan. This means that the Council’s total support for the area of around 23 million NOK annually forms the basis of the new support scheme. In addition, the Arts Council has asked the Government for 20 million NOK in increased support. The first application deadline will be in September 2019. Read the story in Norwegian here.

The conference on “The artist’s skill set” took place at Carlsberg Academy in the former home of brewer J.C. Jacobsen. Photo: Frederikke Friderichsen.

Art in the age of the customer

During a conference in Copenhagen on 4 April artists, curators, and business representatives discussed – unapologetically – «The artist’s skill set» and how it can be utilised in collaborations with commercial companies. The background for the conference, which was organised by BKF, the Danish Visual Artist’s Organisation, was a report published by professor at Copenhagen Business School Trine Bille in November last year on the economic landscape of visual art. It states that few artists can live on sales alone. The purpose of the conference was to investigate areas for expansion of artist’s markets. Speakers from the art world, public institutions, and private companies shared their experience on, amongst other things, public art and collaborations with public and private organisations. Aslak Aamot Kjærulff of the curatorial group Diakron spoke of its cooperation, under the name Primer, with the water purification company Aquaporin. “It’s a kind of basic research in which two organisations interdependently and jointly explore what happens in the collaboration between art and business,” said Kjærulff. Mikkel Carl from the Danish Art Council introduced a new grant scheme to support drafts and sketches, in order to encourage more artists to be proactive in contacting local institutions for public art assignments. Several members of the audience were critical of the conference’s aim, and one pointed out that it sounded like a lot of unpaid work to first analyse a company’s needs, pitch an idea that solves specific problems for that company, and only thereafter seek financial support. Milena Bonfacini, president of the Academy Council, warned that artists pursuing this kind of work could find themselves in potentially very weak positions and risk compromising artistic quality. Read the story in Danish here.