January 21, 2018 - Tensta Konsthall - The Agency of Art
January 21, 2018

Tensta Konsthall

Reception in Kassel 2017 organized by the Nordic network. Photo: Hanna Nordell.

The Agency of Art
A symposium
March 9–11, 2018

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7
0551 Oslo


Is it possible to measure the significance and impact of art? More than 40 smaller visual arts institutions from the Nordic countries are organizing a large-scale symposium in Oslo in order to address the question of the agency of art and the work of such institutions.   

Leading experts within the cultural-economic field will take part in the symposium, among them: Pier Luigi Sacco, professor of Cultural Economics at IULM University of Milano; Andrea Phillips, art professor and director of the BxNU Research Institute, Northumbria University and BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art in Newcastle; Lars Strannegård, professor and president at the Stockholm School of Economics; Binna Choi, curator and director of Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory in Utrecht; as well as Azar Mahmoudian, curator and researcher based in Tehran.


The Agency of Art
How can one fathom the implications and values of smaller arts institutions within the greater arts’ ecosystem? One key aspect is their ground-breaking approach to relations between art and society, education, and the formation of public spheres. Another is their important role in local communities whilst maintaining a constant dialogue within the international arts context. But how can we create dialogue around the values that are being built—beyond visitation numbers and media coverage? What cooperative processes can be adopted so that artists and culture, small and large institutions, municipalities, regions, states and federal politics all cooperate to encourage art’s potential?

During the fall of 2017 curator and theorist Jonatan Habib Engqvist and Nina Möntmann, art historian and curator, have worked on a report focusing on the artistic, social, societal and economic values of the contemporary kunsthalles within a Nordic context. The work is being presented in the symposium alongside presentations by some of the most significant experts in the field. The symposium will gather art institutions, officials and politicians within the cultural sectors of the Nordic countries as well as international guests. The program includes lectures, panels, smaller group discussions, and guided visits at art institutions in Oslo. The symposium will take place at Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA). It has received support from the Nordic Culture Point and Art’s Council Norway.

The symposium is free of charge, but participants are asked to pay for arranged meals, travels and stay. RSVP is mandatory and is accepted before February 11 to ingrid [​at​] oslokunstforening.no. First come first serve.


The Nordic Network
The organisation of the network is based on three existing associations of kunsthalles: Foreningen af Kunsthaller i Danmark which has been active since 1992; Klister in Sweden and Kunsthallene i Norge, which was both formed in 2011. Each of these networks has arisen out of a need to organize in order to highlight and debate the function of small and medium sized contemporary art institutions, their significance as well as their existing terms of governance. Situational reports have been commissioned by all three networks from their respective countries. The Danish report is titled The kunsthalle: A crucial participant in contemporary art and for contemporary art (Kunsthallen: En afgørende aktør i samtidskunsten og for samtidskunsten). The Swedish report No exceptions: Value creation in small and medium-sized kunsthalles (Inga undantag. Värdeskapande i små och medelstora konsthaller) by Mikael Löfgren is available for download here (in English). In Norway, Telemarksforsking has completed a report which is available here (in Norwegian).

The symposium is arranged by the Nordic network through Marianne Hultman (Oslo Kunstforening), Kristine Kern (Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen), Maria Lind (Tensta konsthall, Stockholm), Cecilie Nissen (Kristiansand Kunsthall), Helene Nyborg Bay (Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen) and Bettina Pehrsson (Marabouparken konsthall, Sundbyberg). 

Hanna Nordell, hanna [​at​] tenstakonsthall.se 
Ingrid Vold Bjørkamo, ingrid [​at​] oslokunstforening.no 

Tensta Konsthall
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