August 21, 2020 - Public Art Norway (KORO) - A K Dolven: Untuned Bell
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August 21, 2020

Public Art Norway (KORO)

A K Doleven, Sketch for Untuned Bell placed on found image of the return of Haakon VII of Norway to Honnørbrygga and Rådhusplassen in Oslo after WW2. Courtesy A K Dolven/Element Arkitekter.

A K Dolven
Untuned Bell
August 22, 2020

koro.no

A bell was removed from the bell tower of Oslo City Hall in connection with Oslo’s millennium celebrations, when it was found to be out of tune with the other 48 bells in the carillon. The artist A K Dolven discovered this 1.4-ton bell mute on the ground and has conserved its voice. Untuned Bell is installed close to the City Hall at Honnørbrygga, one of the quays adjacent to Rådhusplassen, The City Hall Square.

The bell hangs suspended from a 30-metre wire strung between two 20-metre steel columns, directly opposite its former home, with the sea and sky as a backdrop. A “Cry Baby” pedal, of the same type used by rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and others, has been set into the ground. By pushing the pedal, the audience can call forth sound from the shunned, out-of-tune and long-silenced bell.

The Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin has composed a specially commissioned work for Untuned Bell—each day over the course of a week, the composition gradually activates the bells remaining in the City Hall’s carillon. One by one, they join in. As always, when an outcast is welcomed back into the fold, only a few initially dare to speak out on the outcast’s behalf. The composition will be performed in connection with the bell’s return. Close to its original home, the bell can once again converse with its former community at the top of the tower.

Oslo City Hall was built between 1931 and 1950 as a gathering place for the city’s inhabitants and continues to serve as a symbol of urban solidarity. From the beginning, art has had a central place in the building of the City Hall: all the indoor public spaces, façades, and civic spaces around the building are adorned with a wealth of site-specific art. The works reflect upon core values of the Norwegian society; the constitution and nation-building, human rights and freedom of speech. The carillon in the eastern tower and the artists’ studios in the western tower also emphasize the importance of art in Oslo’s “most public building,” which was envisaged as a city hall not only for Norway’s capital, but for the whole of the young nation. Untuned Bell, a freestanding monumental work by a female artist, now occupies a position facing the art historical heritage of this public space, which was created almost exclusively by men.

Artist: A K Dolven
Composer: Rolf Wallin
Carillonneur: Laura-Marie Rueslåtten
Curator: Kristine Jærn Pilgaard
Producer: Bo Krister Wallström/ KORO Public Art Norway
Produced by: KORO Public Art Norway 
Co-support: Oslo kommune – Kulturetaten
Other partners: Oslo kommune – Oslo rådhus, Bymiljøetaten, Oslo Havn KF
The bell is owned by Nauen Olsen Klokkestøperi.                                                                                                              

Untuned Bell is part of an ongoing project by A K Dolven about the untuned among us. The sea connects these untuned voices in Folkestone, UK, Ekenes, Finland and now in Oslo, Norway.

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