A new art initiative sets out to explore Oslo’s architectural tapestry

A new art initiative sets out to explore Oslo’s architectural tapestry

Oslo’s landmark historical buildings are being abandoned. As the cultural institutions that once inhabited them are being relocated into new, purpose-built structures, these historical landmarks are becoming empty shells in a city that’s undergoing a construction boom. It’s a problem that has not gone unnoticed by architects Johanne Borthne and Vilhelm Christensen, curator and writer Martin Braathen and architectural historian Even Smith Wergelan who have decided to do something about it.

Teaming up with curators Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk of Oslo Pilot – a newly launched two-year art initiative that will lay the groundwork for a potential future art biennial – the group have launched a new research project called City of Dislocation, in order to address the question of what to do with these empty shells in the future. 

Unfolding over the course of Oslo Pilot’s two year lifespan, between 2016 and 2017, the project aims to generate creative ideas as to the future function of these buildings by inviting architects and designers to submit concrete proposals. The first step in the process will be a survey of some of these historical landmarks. Titled ’Consolidate or Die’, this survey will provide a critical analysis of five historical buildings in Oslo that are facing abandonment over the next few years: The National Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Deichmanske Library, the Munch Museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design.

In part two of the project, ’City of Dislocation’ will continue to study and map out similar historical landmarks, looking both backwards and forwards in time to generate ideas as to their possible future uses. 

Elsewhere in the city Oslo Pilot has commissioned the first in a planned series of public art installations that will take place over the next two years.

Titled ’House of Commons’, the new artwork sees Norwegian conceptual artist Marianne Heske relocate a small abandoned provincial house from Østfold, Norway to a new position in front of the grand Storting building, the seat of Norway’s parliament in central Oslo. Oslo Pilot explain, ‘This apparently trivial juxtaposition brings out the distinction between showing and saying, creating relationships between diverging realities. The installation is a fusion of the aesthetic, the intellectual and the social.’

Due to the level of public interest, when the cabin’s tenure at Storting comes to a close at the end of the month, it will be relocated to its original home in the municipality of Hobøl to a prominent site near the municipality’s medieval church.

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