That punk attitude

  • We decided to take our easterly tour of Oslo’s art exhibitions from the middle out, beginning at OCA where we observed Anders Sunna “scenography” for “M– USEUMS ON FIRE”, later we moved to Schloss to look at a VERY prominent projector installation, before we ended our tour looking at a painting with attitude at RAM galleri.

    First things first, “M– USEUMS ON FIRE” was a symposium at OCA that happened April 20-21 in which indigenous and non-indigenous artists, writers and curators discussed the role an institution plays in the exhibition of indigenous art. We will get deeper into the symposium itself and its surrounding topics later. For now, let’s talk about the look of the scenography. Sunna is a young sami artist, often using traditional sami symbols mixed with graffiti, reindeers, weapons.

    The weird thing is to call this a “scenography”. It’s not an exhibition, mind you.

    What is a scenography anyways?

    In Norwegian it’s a quite common word, but not in English. Maybe you would say “mis en
    scène”, or set design. The visual stuff on a stage.

    Aa, well I would settle for some kind of definition in the press release at least. It sounds like one of those international art language words you would only find in theory text books. We could have a whole symposium on scenography

    Anyways, this scenography, it looks very much like Urban Outfitters to me, like Urban Outfitters only 10 years ago. The wooden floors, the skeletons, this plastic fence, graffiti on the walls…

    Ya, the stage could just be a skate ramp. It leaves me feeling a little sad. Is it really like that cool to imitate your own cultural appropriators?

    It could be cool, but then you would have to alter it, add something?

    I have so many problems with skeletons, they’re like: this is how you will look like when you’re

    I know, I know, I will DIE ONE DAY. I KNOW.

    I like the trees though, bringing part of the forest and “vidda” to the city.

    Yeah, me too, the trees are nice.

    There’s also the noose with a queue machine, a butcher’s ticket to death sort of thing… And Darth Vader clad in Sami clothing printed on the wall behind the gallows. Around the corner is a store mannequin with an assault rifle strapped to her “body”. Its head is replaced by a reindeer head. Its arm is dismembered, laying on the floor.

    I dont think it’s the artist’s intention, but this reminds me of finding a dead woman in the woods.

    Have you encountered many of those?

    No. But it’s hard to work with mannequins, they look so already disposed of. And what’s going on with this wall painting, some figure forcing its eye open with the pinky and the ring finger. Who would open their eyes it like that?

    Haha, true. The handwork, the craft of putting these things together, isn’t all that convincing.

    No. And it’s very, very bro-y.

    Bro. Very bro-y

    I think his press release is on point though. Talking about how his family has been under threat by the government and state authorities for over 40 years. To slaughter their reindeers, to end their livelihoods. It’s utterly sad and disheartening. But most samis dosen’t deal with reindeers, which is historically true as well. The reindeer symbolism is more like a stereotype, a cliché. Besides, I question how he is placing himself on the moral high ground, because the reindeer situation is very complex. I don’t think there’s a either/or answer to the conflict. You have the state, it’s interventions and environmental concerns on the one side, and then the claims of families like Sunna’s on the other side. But capitalism, industrialisation of the herding, climate changes, increased competition, etc. etc. are also added into the mix.

    Yea, there’s lots of pain, and it’s totally fair to be angry, but this scenography is addressing a very specific problem in a way that is totally “in your face”, but also too vague to be confrontational. I like the spirit of the work, but I think I want him to take direct visual aim at what the issue is.

    Yes, and I’m also thinking that perhaps there are other struggles worth paying attention to as well. What is it like to be gay, a feminist, whatever, in a bro-y reindeer world like this one?

    Could be what they they talked about at the symposium, but for the general public who didn’t attend it, this scenography is what we are left with.


    From OCA we make our way towards Schloss gallery where they are currently showing Keren Cytter, according to the press release she is one of the “most prominent artist of our generation”

    Keren Cytter, The Mirror of Simple Souls, 2017. Installation view. Courtesy of the artist and
    SCHLOSS, Oslo. Photographer: Vegard Kleven

    Ach, this text, isn’t it such art writing? It goes on about Fassbinder, Fellini, something, something. Oh boy, you can only experience the show while in the gallery because the works are made on reflective mylar… by the MOST prominent artist!

    I’m trying to decide whether they’re being ironic or not. The t-shirts they got for sale with a take on the Kellog’s Cornflakes design is making fun of something. Also notice how careless they’ve gaffer taped that projector to the floor.

    Like a really punk projector installation.

    But I think for this DIY-style to work out, you really have to be desperate, and have no money and still be trying to make it work. Like to make an earnest effort. Now it looks more careless, or calculated.

    I do like how these pictures themselves look as if someone were possessed by the devil and
    decided to make a a bunch of drawing

    Yes “devil may care.”

    A what?

    Oh, it’s this expression people use to say “reckless” but now since the expression is so old it just sounds corney.

    Hehe, yea. Also because the show really isn’t that intriguing to look at, more like, “OK. Art,”

    If they’re making fun of something, it might be the audience, at least that’s often where irony gets you. I think irony is dead. Be sincere. Be generous.

    “you wouldn’t understand anyway, you’re a peasant an I’m a very prominent punkish artisté”


    At Ram Galleri they’re showing “Force Majure”, a group show with students from the textile department at Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo. Several works are good, one piece we liked was Solveig Aurora ́s ceramics attached to warp strings and another one stands out, a big painting on a velvet screen by the artist Liv Melin.

    Liv Melin, fanship friendship and fictional support, 2017

    This is very nice.

    Yeah, agree. Also because it’s a very basic approach to painting. The only thing is that weird black thing attached to the bottom of it.

    Ya, but also, it would have been strange if the painting just ended.. It’s a take on the frills, no?

    Anyways, I like how the canvass looks like leather, and how these characters are dressed in coats almost like the Marlboro man, very cool. Western style.

    Like Oslo West, or wild wild west?

    Haha, I meant Wild West. But maybe both?

    Lol yes, Oslo West, because it feels expensive.

    They could also be munks, in a religious sect or something. The one girl on the far right reminds me of Matisse’s painting, Dance, how she is holding hands with the others. Or they could be ready for a photo shoot, it has got this Instagram vibe, and the pastell colored dreamy, velvety, background.

    The colors and figures reminds me a little of Richard Diebenkorn, a painter from San Francisco in the 50s, he approached painting with a no muss no fuss attitude he also loved Matisse. I love his paintings because they so don’t try to be cool so they really are.

    Yeah, it’s a great pice. And those women got attitude. The painting got attitude. Like a Frank Sinatra attitude. And that’s real punk.