I have missed out on the re-opening of Bergen Kunsthall a few days ago, and I will ask fellow resident and Bergen-based artist Karen Skog to enlighten me on the exhibitions, but I imagine Willelm de Rooij and Rosa Barba would be two interesting shows. Hopefully I’ll manage to drop by on my way to Trondheim at the end of the residency..
On the other hand, I had a chance to visit many interesting exhibitions and spaces.. starting from Entrée at Nøstegaten 42!
Despite not being terribly fond of landscape paintings, the dramatic Norwegian ladscapes are quite close to my (stereotypical) image of the sublime, and seeing it pierced through by tunnels was in a way quite an interesting turn of that imagery, besides a good topic for discussion on the importance and symbolic value of tunnels for this country. Nevertheless, my psychological distance to the genre determined some difficulty in engaging with these new works by Lars Korff Lofthus, yet I was really drawn by his wonderful use of colour, and the incredibly rich palette so full of contrast and vibrancy.
My favourite piece in his exhibition is certainly the most abstract and delicate one, I kept going back to it again and again, as I found it well balanced, yet somehow unsettling.
The opening, on Friday 25th of January, was very lively, with students and different generations of artists, curators and art lovers, some good conversations, interesting encounters and meetings.
I returned to Entrée on Sunday, for a really enlightening conversation with the owner, the curator Randi Grov Berger, whom I had met at a Maria Lind’s conference on practicing the curatorial at Goteborg University back in 2011, where we were part of the audience with our respective MA Curating classes (Stockholm and Bergen universities).
Oh well, the Scandinavian art world isn’t really that big, after all..
I was really curious to understand how the gallery developed since it first opened at the end of 2009, its programming, how it is funded, and its role in the local art scene, and Randi was very open and great to talk to.. and I thought I should share some interesting information on the space, as it is a rather hybrid model.
Entrée started as I said in 2009, a joint effort of two artists from Hordaland who had both been based in Bergen for at least part of their artistic training: Randi Grov Berger and Cato Løland. As it often happens, they had a studio up the road and kept walking past an empty, freshly renovated shopfloor space. One day, at the end of the Summer, they decided to try their chance asking if they could use it for a project. So, it all started with a solo exhibition of the works of Bergen-based artist Ragnhild Johansen, Erasing Knot Paintings, that Fall. Good feedback from the locals, the receipt of state funding, and the possibility to take over the space, determined a decision to give up their artist studios, and the transformation of Entrée into a permanent entity – if one can ever use the word permanent these days.. – a space with a great flexibility, balancing in the muddy waters between the artist-run project space and the “white cube”. Whereas for Grov Berger Entrée became a natural extension of her artistic practice and her concern with art in public space and its accessibility – so much that she decided to also study curating in the meantime – for fellow founder Løland it soon became an impediment to a more studio-based practice.
The space, initially conceived as a platform for local artists – an in-between stage between the art academy environment and the professional gallery – has in its three years of activities developed a varied programme, presenting works by Norwegian artists but with frequent international appearances. Offering a small production budget and a fee, as well as a constructively critical and open attitude that allows for ambitious, experimental and often site-specific projects, Entrée is probably one of the first and longer-lived examples of a small plethora of recently initiated artist-led spaces in Norway, a tendency that has developed especially since the introduction of a specific 3-years support grant scheme introduced by Arts Council Norway in 2010, in response to pressures by UKS. The space also acts as a catalyst for a new scene of non institutionalised or commercial spaces stemming in the city of Bergen, and has been active in creating a synergy with the institutional scene since its early days, with noteworthy collaborations with Bergen Biennale 2010/Bergen Kunstmuseum, and this years’ Bergen Assembly.
After a close look at the Retrospective Catalogue – Entrée 2009-2011, as well as on the website, there are a few exhibitions I wish I could have visited in person, such as Malin Lennström-Örtwall:It’s Like Nothing Ever Happened (I had included one of these works in a proposal I developed with Copenhagen-based colleague Liberty Paterson a couple of years ago), Kjersti Vetterstad: Lethargia, Pica Pica (Ebba Bohlin, Per-Oskar Leu, Kaia Hugin, curated by Johanne Nordby Wernø), Ethan Hayes-Chute: Make/Shifted Cabin and Anna Lundh: Grey Zone.
So, if you happen to be in Bergen, go and check out Entrée.
The next appointment?
On March 1st, for the opening of Azar Alsharif who I hear is working on a new series of collages.