I Call It Art
June 11 – September 11, 2022
I Call It Art is the inaugural exhibition in the Light Hall – the large room for temporary exhibitions located atop the new National Museum. The exhibition presents works by 147 artists and artist groups who work in Norway today.
This temporary exhibition uses the whole of the Light Hall, with its 2,400 square metres of floor space and a ceiling height of seven metres. In the Light Hall the works are organised in three groups. At the west end, you can find many works hung from the ceiling. Centrally placed in the room is Borgny Svalastog’s Draumkvedet, an installation that consists of textile works, two of which are embroideries themed on the artist’s own biography. Here one can also find Aage Gaup’s large wooden sculpture Biegg-olmmoš, and various sound sculptures that can be activated by the public.
Even the museum’s roof terrace has been pressed into service: here the artist and architect Joar Nango has made an installation which includes remnants from the museum’s construction process as well as elements from his exhibition at the National Museum – architecture in the autumn of 2021.
The exhibition architecture in the Light Hall’s middle section has a different character, with works placed in rows on the floor. The placement creates corridors through which the public can move. Many works in the room thematise the question of what is national, but the relation between abstraction and figuration is also a theme that comes into play. The room is dominated by two large works: one theatre stage set by the group Susie Wang, which will present the play Mumeibrun, with the action unfolding in a museum; and a gigantic coat of arms of Norway, made in steel by Malk Sultan Al-Jabiri.
At the east end of the Light Hall, the artist and scenographer Goro Tronsmo has made a large construction that functions as exhibition architecture for several other artists’ works. It contains several scenes: a washroom, a sauna and a piazza. In this room, there is also a gallery showing two ‘exhibitions in the exhibition’. The seven artists who are presented here were selected through the software Curatron, which was developed by the artist Cameron McLeod. The works in this section will be replaced by others halfway through the exhibition period.
Curatron represents one of several forms of selection in I Call It Art. One premise for selecting artists was that none of them were already represented by works in the museum’s collection. In preparing the exhibition, the curators travelled throughout Norway to meet artists in studios and in local art centres. But they also wanted to reach out to artists who worked outside of the museum’s network. The museum therefore published an open call to which over 1,100 artists responded by sending in contributions. Of the 147 artists and artists groups represented in I Call It Art, two-thirds stem from the open call.
I Call It Art is a celebration of the contemporary art that is made in Norway today, yet it also casts a self-critical glance at the museum’s acquisition policy. What is good art, and who decides?
The exhibition takes place on several platforms. In addition to the works shown in the Light Hall, I Call It Art also includes publications and an extensive programme of weekly events such as performances, concerts and video/film presentations. Four artists are invited to make participant-based art projects geared toward young people.