Johanne Nordby Wernø

  • picks August 24, 2014

    Vanessa Baird

    Many of the thirty-five watercolors in Oslo-based Vanessa Baird’s latest exhibition are titled after classic and contemporary literature—texts by author and fellow Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgård as well as folktales. The images render a disturbing if droll vision of troubled characters in places spanning from fairy-tale scenes to present-day Oslo. Created between 2006 and 2014, some of the watercolors reference a major public commission of Baird’s, which caused controversy as it subtly referenced the 2011 terrorist attacks, the deadliest on Norwegian soil since WWII. In one work on view in this

  • “Arbeidstid”

    The current leadership of the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter has repeatedly repudiated the idea that art can stand isolated from the society that surrounds it. Recently, for instance, we saw a multipart project about education, “Learning for Life.” The center’s summerlong show “Arbeidstid” (Work Time) explored historical and contemporary notions of labor. The exhibition included pieces by fourteen artists and groups, and was accompanied by the publication Living Labor,__ edited by the exhibition’s curator, Milena Hoegsberg, with writer Cora Fisher. More a freestanding component of the exhibition than

  • picks June 12, 2013

    Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff

    To anyone who has encountered the work of this artist duo before, Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff’s latest exhibition is an environment that is easily recognizable as their own. Born in 1988 and 1987, respectively, and based in Berlin, Americans Henkel and Pitegoff quickly gained notoriety with Times Bar, a one-year venture the pair began in the Neukölln district in 2011. Elements from the bar live on in their current exhibition, “Nudes in Tanya Leighton's Storage, New Theater Prototypes.” In “New Theater Bench Prototypes,” 2013, four monochrome tiled benches are placed about the floor, while,

  • Victor Lind

    Not long ago, survivors of World War II were still writing, testifying, and giving interviews. But now that the last members of that generation are passing away, the responsibility for telling the stories of the war is being handed over from those who took part to those who came after. In Victor Lind’s “Contemporary Memory,” one of the most talked-about exhibitions in Oslo this winter—not only because the artist has been a significant figure in Norwegian art for forty years, but also owing to the show’s media-friendly subject matter, dramatic personal touch, and crystal-clear message—one

  • picks February 13, 2013

    “I Want The Beatles to Play at My Art Center!”

    In recent years, several projects at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) have touched upon the inception of the art center itself, and traced its significance in Scandinavian art history. This show in particular emphasizes the organization’s role as commissioner and producer of time-based art, and numerous documentation archives of the projects that have resulted over the years are on view for the first time. It was in 1968 that the former ice-skating world champion, 1930s Hollywood star, and longtime art collector Sonja Henie inaugurated the center with her husband, shipping magnate Niels Onstad.

  • diary October 14, 2012

    Bright Lights, Big City

    IT’S TOO LATE IN THE YEAR now to experience Oslo’s famous bright summer nights. So many of the attendees of the recent private view of the new Astrup Fearnley museum looked forward to summertime, when Renzo Piano’s climate- and season-sensitive glass structure will really shine. Despite the seasonal disadvantage, the view of the sunny fjord and nearby islands were still stunning as the dinner for 450 in the museum’s main hall commenced. Anyway, the cohort of overseas visitors was striking in its own right. “Spectacular!” concluded Barbara Gladstone, who was happy with the way the “magnificent

  • “Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors”

    For his first solo show in Switzerland, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson has staged The Visitors, 2012, a major video installation commissioned by the Migros Museum to inaugurate the institution’s expanded space.

    For his first solo show in Switzerland, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson has staged The Visitors, 2012, a major video installation commissioned by the Migros Museum to inaugurate the institution’s expanded space. No doubt this freshly renovated venue stands in striking contrast to the images of a disintegrating Rokeby Mansion, the former Astor family residence, built in 1815 in upstate New York, where the new work’s footage was shot. Installed across nine screens, Kjartansson’s piece is a meditation on love and loss, featuring the artist’s friends performing a song (

  • Marianne Heier

    The annual Festspillutstillingen—the visual art component of the Bergen International Festival—was first held in 1953. Hosted by the city’s Kunsthall, it has since become one of Norway’s most prestigious solo exhibitions. Successful Norwegian artists such as Bjarne Melgaard and Elmgreen and Dragset have had their turn; this year’s exhibition was Marianne Heier’s “Surplus,” curated by the Kunsthall’s director, Solveig Øvstebø. As usual in Heier’s politically and conceptually driven practice, lucid reflections on social and economic structures were given simple but efficient sculptural

  • picks April 20, 2012

    “Tro-pi-cal”

    It opened with a blast. During this exhibition’s vernissage, the New York–based band and art collective HARIBO performed an uproarious concert in the garden of this art center in Lillestrøm, a peaceful town ten minutes from central Oslo. The remnants from the gig––a poster and props––are now in the show, which primarily features videos and installations that are much less punk and carnivalesque.

    Curated by Geir Haraldseth, “Tro-pi-cal” features work by a range of international artists and is far from a straightforward examination of Brazilian art, serving rather as an investigation into how a

  • Ann Cathrin November Høibo

    For “Christopher Burden on My Shoulders,” Ann Cathrin November Høibo’s first solo exhibition, the rigor of the stark white cube was rumpled. Two towering white aluminum shelving units obstructed the viewer’s way through the space. A pair of seashells appeared on a wall otherwise considered too narrow for art, positioned according to the precise height and alignment of the artist’s breasts; this was Høibo’s pastiche of Madonna’s famous cone brassiere, Untitled (Sea Shells), 2011. The weighed-down shoulders of the exhibition title would be a second reference to the artist’s body; a third, the

  • picks July 22, 2011

    “Nobody Can Tell the Why of It”

    This remarkable artist-run space confronts all who curate here with a peculiar two-part challenge: a main space—a huge, outdoor-feeling concrete hall that was formerly a lumberyard—and a smaller area that sports a bright orange 1970s floor covering. The current group show, featuring Nicholas Byrne, Nick Mauss, Ken Okiishi, Josef Strau, and Timothy Furey, negotiates these constraints nicely. The smaller room is allotted to Byrne’s work; in the hall follow Furey’s four large canvases, Okiishi’s films and set pieces, Strau’s text posters and lamps, and Mauss’s drawings and wooden staircase.

    Experiencing

  • picks February 19, 2011

    TheMoen

    The Kunsthall Oslo, located in the city’s new and much debated “cultural center” Bjørvika, has begun 2011 with something of a wild card: TheMoen’s first solo exhibition. Artist and musician Terje Moen’s quirky pseudonym is homonymous with the pronunciation of the Norwegian word for “demon.” Unknown to a larger audience, TheMoen enjoys local fame in the artistic community of Kristiansand in southern Norway, where he is recognized for his imaginative drawings and for having opened up his studio to artists, tourists, and the general public every Saturday for many years.

    TheMoen’s work might be best

  • picks July 09, 2010

    Jumana Manna

    For Jumana Manna’s film Blessed Blessed Oblivion, 2010, the centerpiece of her exhibition at this gallery, the artist gained access to environments rarely seen by the female eye. The barbershop, gym, and mechanic’s garage in the film are all located in her hometown of East Jerusalem and serve as daily habitats for the work’s misogynistic protagonist: a young Palestinian. His pious recitations of martyr poems are followed swiftly by rants about less sacred, and more sexual, types of violence: “I took her into the bathroom, grabbed her by the hair, and stuffed her face into the toilet basin.”

  • picks April 29, 2010

    A. K. Dolven

    According to rumors in the Oslo art scene, A. K. Dolven’s Untuned Bell, 2010, was scheduled to have extended its stay in Tullinløkka, an open public space next to the National Gallery in central Oslo. But in spite of its heavy, permanent appearance, the work can only be experienced––i.e., seen, played, and heard––until the end of May. The outdoor installation comprises a giant bell suspended high in the air between two wooden poles. On the ground below, there is a foot pedal so that visitors can play the one-and-a-half-ton instrument.

    Until recently, the bell was stored under the care of the

  • picks March 03, 2010

    Bjarne Melgaard

    Rarely does an artist have two separate but identically named museum exhibitions on view in the same country at the same time. This winter, Bjarne Melgaard’s opening of “Jealous” at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley was swiftly followed by a seemingly improvised show with the same title at the Bergen Kunstmuseum. The Oslo exhibition is Melgaard’s first retrospective, an extensive presentation spinning backward in time around a centrally placed axis of new large-scale paintings.

    Melgaard, a Brooklyn-based Norwegian artist who has become notorious for explicit, homoerotic, and violent imagery, as well as his