Kunstnernes Hus, an artist-run exhibition space for contemporary art, is organised as an independent foundation owned by Norwegian artists. Kunstnernes Hus opened in 1930, since when it has been one of Norway’s chief venues for the presentation of Norwegian and international contemporary art. The 1,100 m2 exhibition area comprises four main spaces: two monumental, downlit halls on the first floor, and two smaller spaces on the ground floor. At the back of the building, which formerly housed the art academy, there are five large artist studios, four of which will become part of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway artist-in-residence programme for international artists, which will be inaugurated in 2003.

Although the history of Norwegian art is relatively short, Norway has nevertheless managed to make its mark in the international art world. This achievement is due not least to a worldwide network of artist-in-residence studios, which has offered artists the possibility of short stays abroad and functioned as a kind of access point to the international arena. The numerous artist-in-residence programmes around the world enable meetings and provide a source of inspiration, artistic exchange, contacts, logistic support, new ways of thinking, the understanding of art, language – and respite.

The exhibition project "Rest in Space" consists of nine different sections, covering approaches from the real to the virtual, and encompassing both pieces made specially for the exhibition, and older works. Two of the rooms make use of display architecture specially constructed for the exhibition. In addition to the internet projects and videos, the exhibition includes 21 works in a variety of techniques. Artists of several generations are taking part, many of whom are coming to Oslo to install their works themselves.

In "Rest in Space" we give an indication of the possibilities offered by artist-in-residence programmes through a presentation of five Norwegian artists that have participated in such programmes on five continents, three of them under the management of Kunstnernes Hus. The locations – New York (USA), Rotterdam (Holland), New Delhi (India), Kellerberrin (Australia), and Johannesburg (South Africa) – have been chosen with a view to contrast and variety. This section consists primarily of works that have been made specially for "Rest in Space". It has been exciting to follow this process from close up, and we look forward to showing the results. We are also aware that the residencies have at times been highly demanding, that it can take time get one’s bearings in a new setting, and to digest new impressions.

Artists: Aage Langhelle, Lotte Konow Lund, Thomas Pihl, Anne Lise Stenseth, Hanne Tyrmi, alle Norge

The two Norwegian artists who had residencies in South Africa and India, Langhelle and Tyrmi, were asked to invite one colleague each from their respective host localities to undertake residencies in Oslo, Norway. The two guest artists have been here this autumn and their works are presented in the exhibition. Dube has already been producing art for many years, while Madikida has only recently graduated from art academy.

Artists: Anita Dube, India; Churchill Madikida, South Africa

We have invited four established, international artists who in the course of the year have had residencies in other countries (Finland, Sweden and Germany) to contribute new works. Some of them have previously participated in artist-in-residence programmes elsewhere. Alves and subReal are preparing special contributions to the seminar (see section 9).

Artists: Maria Thereza Alves, Brazil; subReal with Calin Dan and Josif Kiraly, Romania; Chiharu Shiota, Japan

This section presents no less than the "frame" in which the first three sections are presented: a modular system created by Matthias Lengner. The flexible system of panels emphasises and enhances the image of "the nomadic camp", while at the same time enabling the participating artist to create his/her own "room within a room" in the right downlit hall. The system is flexible and will be easily adapted to new spaces when the exhibition moves on to other venues.

Artist: Matthias Lengner, Germany

This part of "Rest in Space" is characterised by a more reflective attitude. For this room we have brought together a range of older works, which are presented so as to articulate the artists’ travel experiences and to show various aspects of what it means to be in motion, aspects that might be mental or mythological as much as physical: in the space – out of the space. This section occupies one of the large downlit halls on the first floor and the rooms on the ground floor.

Artists: Marina Abramovic, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; Basserode, France; Los Carpinteros, Cuba; Gordon Monahan, Canada; Therese Nordtvedt, Norway; Peter Robinson, New Zealand; Mitsuko Miwa, Japan; Alex Flemming, Brazil

"Rest in Space" offers a compact little programme of films and videos that will be shown in the intermedial room. Atle Aas has designed a seating arrangement with cushions to cater not least for showings of Ulrike Ottinger’s 16mm films, which are long and require calm and concentration of their viewers. Ottinger’s eight hour long films will be shown on the weekends, spread over two days. Shorter videos by some of the other participating artists will be shown on weekdays.

Artists: Ulrike Ottinger, Germany (films); Marina Abramovic, Chiharu Shiota, Lotte Konow Lund, Maria Thereza Alves (videos); Atle Aas, Norway (design)

The idea of nomadism and of global mobility tends to lead immediately to thoughts of the internet and its potential for connecting people independent of time and space. We have therefore set up a "virtual nomadic camp" which enables artists around the world to contribute with their works. These works can be either material or immaterial in nature. In addition we have installed a mailing list that functions as a communication platform – a virtual marketplace for the exchange of ideas, news and experience.

For a while now "Rest in Space" has been collecting information for an extensive library, where visitors will find information about more than 300 artists participating in artist-in-residence programmes around the world. The material includes books, catalogues, brochures and web pages. We have also made a map for 2002 of the worldwide network of residential houses and art centres on which the various stations and routes of the travelling artists are plotted to help visualisation of their journeys. With this we wanted to discover whether there was any tendency for movements to converge, but now we see that directions change constantly. The places that were in a few years ago might be utterly out today, and vice versa. Sonja Wiik has written a text specially for "Rest in Space", which considers various aspects of artist-in-residence programmes.

The last part of "Rest in Space" will consist of a symposium based on talks by the artists participating in the exhibition. This symposium will take place at Kunstnernes Hus on the day after the opening, Saturday 19th October. Almost all the participating artists will be present. We hope this arrangement will provide some insight into what residencies abroad have meant for the various artists, what kind of encounters and experiences they have had on their wanderings, and not least, what their travels mean for their artistic production. We also look forward to some feedback and discussion about our own concept.


Inghild Karlsen

For more information about Kunstnernes Hus: http://www.kunstnerneshus.no