April 7, 2019 - osloBIENNALEN - …opening at any time or place… even though it might be erased…
April 7, 2019


Birkelunden, Oslo, future site of Julien Bismuth, Nothing is big, nothing is small. Performance. Photo: Niklas Lello.

…opening at any time or place… even though it might be erased…
osloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019–2024: A five-year programme of art in public space

Opening Weekend: May 25–26
Symposium: May 27, 2–5pm

Myntgata 2
0151 Oslo


Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / #osloBIENNALEN

In 1969, Marcel Broodthaers sits writing in the rain in a backyard in La Rue de la Pépinière [1]. He pens the words at an even, determined pace, but the rain washes his words away the moment they appear on the page. Language dissolves—at the same spot where a year earlier Broodthaers inaugurated his fictitious Museum of Modern Art, 19th Century section (Department of Eagles). The film, La Pluie (projet pour un texte), raises questions about art production, genius, intent, permanence/ephemerality, relations between art and text, about the figure of the artist, and systems and spaces of representation, especially the museum. Also notions of public space, represented in individual and collective imaginaries as a multiple and conflictive space of thought, debate… poetry. Projet suggests a journey in time, a word never to be broken even though it may be erased, offering endless possibilities that modify experience and reception. 

A wandering character in a work that is hard for passers-by to recognise as art: The Beggar’s Opera by Dora García (referring to Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera) [2]. In this extended performance in Münster, an actor plays a vagrant, accosting passers-by as he pleases, always present but mostly ignored. “Like servants and madmen,” says the artist. The work is open-ended, co-owned/unowned and co-authored, engaging directly with an unconstituted audience in public space. A work that could be repeated without the artist.

“When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.” According to Mette Edvardsen, Augusto Monterroso’s [3] sentence is the shortest story in literature. Easy to memorise, it suggests an extensive and intriguing narrative, material for a lengthy book. But much longer stories may also be memorised. This is how Edvardsen started to build a library of some 80 living books. Eighty individuals have learnt books by heart that can be recited to a “reader.” Books that could survive Fahrenheit-esque book burnings, their pages opening at any time or place.

Rose Hammer shows up… is a growing collective of individuals, claiming inspiration from dialectical materialism, agitprop classical theatre, golden-era Hollywood, French film noir, literature, totalitarian histories, Hannah Arendt and Bertolt Brecht …to construct multi-layered itineraries through certain episodes in recent Norwegian history. Rose Hammer may refer—although not exclusively—to the hammer inscribed on Henrik Ibsen’s gravestone [4].

The works described above pose questions about the timeframes and situations in which they operate, contexts that overflow conventional, institutional time/spaces. How are such works produced and presented? How do they engage with audiences, or enter an art collection? What kind of curatorial framework supports these works and their timeframes, which may stretch indefinitely beyond the one-off event? How might this framework be designed or constituted? This is the challenge osloBIENNALEN has set itself by hosting a biennial for artists to work in public spaces and spheres.

osloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019–2024 proposes a new biennial model. Eschewing thematic approaches, the curatorial proposal consists of structures and methods conceived to engage diverse audiences and influence long-term cultural policy. The evolving programme is supported by infrastructures designed to rethink parameters of art production, display, collecting, and public outreach, arranged under four headings: Art Production within a Locality; New Institutional Ecologies; a Collection for the Passer-by; and Addressing the Myriad.

osloBIENNALEN First Edition extends an invitation to explore and question Oslo’s public spaces and spheres through the production and display of works of art that interact with the city, its past, present and future. The project will run from May 25, 2019 until 2024—a unique time span for a biennial—with an expanding programme of artists and projects including both new and pre-existing works of art with varying tempos, rhythms, and life-spans. This involves working on new production, while reflecting on what already exists or has taken place, operating beyond established definitions of temporality and permanence, production and participation, ongoingness, disruption, and/or the activation of public space.

The biennial’s production resources include a visiting artists programme, a film production unit and radio station. These are located at premises opened at the biennial’s own initiative to house 67 studios leased to Oslo-based artists, placing the biennial’s nerve centre in close contact with local art production and discourse. 

When works of art enter public space, the audience is made up of a heterogeneous population of passers-by. How does this work when the institution backing this move has no visible presence? Could the biennial become this institution? How might we deterritorialise the art institution in terms of outreach and education in public space? Perhaps rethinking access is a matter of inscribing art in everyday life, beyond the timeframe of the exhibition or event, and their habitual display devices.

In this context, is the biennial model capable of introducing new and effective cultural policy? How can we build a modus operandi that meets the challenges of operating in public spaces/spheres?  

–Eva González-Sancho Bodero and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk

Participants confirmed for 2019: Mikaela Assolent (FR), Adrián Balseca (EC), Benjamin Bardinet (FR), Julien Bismuth (FR), Marcelo Cidade (BR), Jonas Dahlberg (SE), Anna Daniell (NO), Edith Dekyndt (BE), Carole Douillard (FR), Ed D’Souza (GB), Tomáš Džadoň (SK), Mette Edvardsen (NO), Jan Freuchen, Sigurd Tenningen and Jonas Høgli Major (NO), Rose Hammer (ES/NO), Oliver Godow (DE), Gaylen Gerber (US), Hlynur Hallsson (IS), Marianne Heier (NO), Javier Izquierdo (EC), Graziela Kunsch (BR), Michelangelo Miccolis (IT/MX), Mônica Nador and Bruno Oliveira (BR), Michael Ross (US), Belén Santillán (EC), Lisa Tan (US/SE), Øystein Wyller Odden (NO), Knut Åsdam (NO).

osloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019–2024 is curated by Eva González-Sancho Bodero and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk, the tandem behind OSLO PILOT, research-based experimental project that laid the groundwork for osloBIENNALEN, which is financed and owned by the Oslo Agency for Cultural Affairs, Norway.

[1] Marcel Broodthaers, La Pluie (projet pour un texte), 1969.
[2] Dora García, Beggar’s Opera, produced for Skulptur-Projekte, Münster 07, 2007.
[3] Mette Edvardsen, “Birthdays, deaths, dinosaurs,” in OSLO PILOT (2015–17): A Project Investigating the Role of Art In and for the Public Space –Laying the Groundwork for Oslo Biennial First Edition, 2018.
[4] Rose Hammer, produced for osloBIENNALEN FIRST EDITION 2019–2024.

National press:
Hilde Herming, Head of Communications, osloBIENNALEN: T +47 916 94 390  / hilde.herming [​at​] oslobiennalen.no

International press:
Helena Zedig, Pickles PR: T +44 7803 596587 / helena [​at​] picklespr.com
Amanda Kelly, Pickles PR: T +34 685 875 996 / amanda [​at​] picklespr.com

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