We’re now nearly slap bang in the middle of Frankfurt Buchmesse (16 – 20 October 2019), the mind-blowingly sprawling Book Fair of gigantic proportions that’s held in Germany each and every year. If you have never been, then just imagine hangar-sized exhibition halls packed to the rafters with people, print and books from all over the world. You have to wear comfy shoes and be willing to do some serious walking and talking! It’s where the big international book deals are done, intellectual rights are auctioned, and everybody in the book trade meets to network, gossip and exhibit their wares.
Each and every year the Buchmesse highlights a particular country as their Guest of Honour, with it’s specific aim at presenting both its literature and culture at the fair. This year it is the turn of Norway, and so we’ve decided to follow suit and highlight a small selection of books/DVDs that have an interesting Norwegian connection. We really want you to explore our list much more as we have so many fascinating titles to draw you in.
Hans-Olav Forsang: Human Tonic was produced for the Oslo exhibition of Norwegian photographer Hans-Olav Forsang at Galleri Semmingsen in 2017. Liberating himself from the strict rules of his usual documentary style photos, he wanted to take a more liberating approach. The resulting images challenge the viewer, arousing emotions and highlighting the relationship between small, everyday and big, existential questions.
Norwegian artist Faldbakken has much interest in counter-culture and a penchant for the opposite of societal norms and conventions. Included here in his book, Matias Faldbakken: Shocked Into Abstraction, are such things as banned underground art cultures, rebellion and the historical avant-garde. This title was published back in 2009 to coincide with the exhibition of the same name at The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo.
Caroline Bergvall: Ghost Pieces: Four Language-Based Installations is a DVD that documents four different language-based installations by this French-Norwegian artist and writer. Concentrating around the theme of cultural belonging, each piece challenges the dimensions and perceptions of the use of language in both space and in sound. Included is an in-depth interview with the artist.
For his 2017 exhibition at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Carsten Holler turned the space into a big sanatorium and published this book, Carsten Holler: Henie Onstad Sanatorium. The people of Norway and international visitors were invited to come for therapeutic treatments that included floating, sliding and flying their way through the sanatorium.
Alex Hartley: Now here Is land: In the High Arctic region of Svalbard in Norway, artist Alex Hartley discovered an island recently revealed by a melting glacier. Over a number of months, he towed the island to international waters and declared it the world’s newest nation, with citizenship open to all. During its 2,500 mile journey to the South West coast of England it was greeted by over 23,000 people from 135 different countries, where it was finally broken up and its pieces shared out among its citizens. This book is a celebration of this most extraordinary public artwork.
Also set in the region of the High Arctic are the environmental journeys of Cape Farewell that are stunningly photographed and carefully documented in Burning Ice: Art & Climate Change. Using a team of ground-breaking international artists and climate scientists, Cape Farewell have made several expeditions to the area since 2003, highlighting its vulnerability and sensitivity to environmental changes. Through its scientific research, photography and by producing artworks, Cape Farewell aims to initiate a cultural response to climate change, providing first hand accounts of the rapidly unfolding planetary crisis. And hoping people will be engaged enough to act.
Phil Brooks: 60° North comes from artist Phil Brooks who has long been intrigued about the idea of the North, and the cold. Embarking on a journey that began on the Siberian border with Norway, which took him on across Scandinavia, the Scottish Islands, Iceland, Greenland and eventually ending up in Alaska. Brooks’ photos and commentary share his experiences and show his developing of a greater understanding of the lands and people that a Westernised view often misconstrues. Through this book you come to realise his true affinity with the North.
Allemansretten: Oliver East is a document of the artist’s performance centred around the right of allemansretten in Norway (the right to roam across open land and pitch up anywhere that is 150m away from the nearest dwelling), but it also examines how performance work is documented as a whole, and the problems involved. East’s performances often take place without an audience and remain unannounced, marking that friction point of performance meeting reality.
Fredrik Værslev: As I Imagine Him: Norwegian painter Fredrik Værslev uses different painterly traditions and demonstrates the relevance and possibilities of painting as a medium in today’s contemporary art. This 2019 book, published alongside his Astrup Fearnley Museet exhibition, is a comprehensive monograph of the last 10 years of his artistic practice and includes essays exploring his relationship with the history of painting, architecture and culture.
Elmgreen & Dragset: Performances 1995 – 2011 : Elmgreen & Dragset are a Danish-Norwegian artist duo, and this is the first book to look at their artistic practice from a wholly performance perspective. Showcasing 47 separate performance pieces spanning nearly two decades, some have never before been documented in a catalogue. Each work includes an image-type documentation and a full performance script. This title also includes texts by critics and curators.
Hanneline Visnes: Afterwards, in the Blank Wood was a book commissioned by the CCA and is the first solo publication by this Glasgow-based, Norwegian-born artist. It includes her drawings of birds, flowers and trees and the often recurring patterns in nature. The patterns represent a deep desire to order nature; the flowers are symbols rather than representations; and the patterns are placed between trees to make a landscape – a wood. Her detailed intimate works are investigated in relationship to the scale and form of this publication.
Artist Terje Nicolaisen is often associated with a tongue in cheek take on life. This book, Terje Nicolaisen: No More Jokes presents a large collection of his drawings and paintings spanning over a period of over 20 years. The emphasis here concentrates on a more personal, strong and visually interesting vein of his work, ‘with an often free and spontaneous expression’.
Image taken from Alex Hartley: Now Here is Land, published by Victoria Miro.