January 13, 2021 - Office for Contemporary Art Norway - Actions of Art and Solidarity
January 13, 2021

Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Gitte Dæhlin, Hun som bærer minnet om denne jorda, hvor bærer denne jorda henne (She who Carries the Memory of this Earth, Where does this Earth Carry Her?), 1981–83. Courtesy of Maritea Dæhlin. Photo: Eirin Torgersen / OCA. 

Actions of Art and Solidarity
January 20–March 21, 2021

Kunstnernes Hus
Wergelandsveien 17
0167 Oslo

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Solidarity has re-entered the global zeitgeist with resounding force in the last decade. It has driven new thinking focused on countering systemic failures and outright abuses related to climate, economy, surveillance, health, gender and race amongst other issues. Actions of Art and Solidarity considers the central role that artists play within this historical shift in the new millennium, drawing parallels to synergic cases of the twentieth century.

Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA)’s large-scale group exhibition Actions of Art and Solidarity presents 76 works by artists, activists, collectives and thinkers from around the world, including Norway, catalysing cultural, socio-political and environmental solidarity across different geographies and contexts from the 1950s to the present day. Looking back in time and forward into the future, the exhibition displays artists’ extraordinary ability to narrate and build empathy around fundamental global conflicts and injustices, and provide the radical imaginaries of care and solidarity that can stimulate their resolution. The venue, Kunstnernes Hus (The Artists’ House, Oslo) has a symbolic value, since the institution has played a recurrent part in Norway’s own contribution to artistic solidarities—from presenting Pablo Picasso’s Guernica in 1938 during its international solidarity tour, to organising exhibitions of solidarity with other parts of the world. It also presents central instances of Norwegian solidarity artistic practices, as well as new works especially commissioned for the exhibition.

The case studies included in the exhibition have been sourced across four continents, and cover a 70-year time span of artistic creativity. The exhibition is the result of a three-year research period and is made possible by the various friendships, alliances and collaborations with its participants, for which OCA is deeply grateful. They include the radical Delhi-based collective Sahmat and their 30 year-long artistic mobilisation against inter-religious strife in India (with works by Pushpamala N., Ram Rahman, Inder Salim, Nilima Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram and others); the two decade long anti-nuclear women’s peace camp in Greenham Common, UK, where artists and citizens innovated non-hierarchical forms of female and queer protest and co-habitation (with works by Tina Keane, Wendy Carrig and others); artistic and allied testimonies from the legendary PLO’s exhibition Palestinian Artists at Kunstnernes Hus, 1981; the radical museology of the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (with works by Chilean Arpilleristas, Gracia Barrios, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Öyvind Fahlström, Claude Lazar, Kjartan Slettemark and Teresa Vila, amongst others, as well as archival material); artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s collaboration with whistle-blower and technologist Chelsea Manning; personal stories from the 40-year commitment of the Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin America; as well as artworks and contributions by Carolina Caycedo, Chimurenga, Gitte Dæhlin, Maritea Dæhlin, Beatríz González, Maria Hupfield, Gavin Jantjes, Bouchra Khalili, Naeem Mohaiemen and Hannah Ryggen.

The exhibition proposes that the solidarity imaginaries expressed by artworks, and embodied by specific artistic actions, are always the outcome of the extensive processes of artist-led care-building that precede and succeed them. Moreover, it is those very networks of personal connectivity and empathy created by artists over time around a particular issue (in alliance and in friendship with everyday citizens and activists) and configured within their artworks of solidarity, that inspire society at large to imagine life differently and step-forward in ways that generate profound transformation.

Actions of Art and Solidarity is curated by Katya García-Antón (Director/Chief Curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway), with the research and coordination support of Liv Brissach (Project Officer), Itzel Esquivel (Project Officer) and Drew Snyder (Programme Manager) in Oslo, and Aban Raza (Project Coordinator, Delhi). The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Kunstnernes Hus where it will be on view till March 21. 

The public programme is co-curated by OCA and Kunstnernes Hus and will consist of a film program, dialogues and performances, as well as a solidarity songs playlist (created by artist Elin Már Øyen Vister aka DJ Sunshine in collaboration with contributing artists and other peers). Listen here. Info on the song list here.

The exhibition will be followed by the publication of the Actions of Art and Solidarity Reader, edited by Katya García-Antón; assistant editor Liv Brissach (OCA / Valiz, 2021).

About OCA
OCA is a hybrid arts foundation, supporting artists based in Norway and Sápmi, founded in 2001 by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs. OCA’s work focuses on two areas: curating (exhibitions, research trips, publications and discursive programmes), as well as funding and support (providing grants, research trips and residency schemes) to foster a two-way exchange with the international arts scene. Under the direction of Katya García-Antón, OCA has launched a deep engagement with the North—turning conventional thinking on its head to see this northern region and the Indigenous lands of Sápmi as a tipping point of thinking around urgent issues within the arts, such as the environment and social justice. OCA’s programme works to forge creative alliances that dismantle colonial and canonical pasts and presents, including those within its own institutional structures, in order to imagine new forms of being and doing for the future.

For press inquiries please contact karoline.trollvik [​at​] oca.no.

Please note that the opening times and public programme might be subject to change to accommodate Norway's Covid-19 regulations. For updated information please visit www.kunstnerneshus.no.

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
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