Nordic News Weekly – February 8th

A decrease in funding hits the art scene in the South of Sweden. In Oslo, seven galleries arrange a new art fair. And Kunstkritikk goes international.

The sculpture park Wanås Konst was among the art institutions that received project funding from Region Skåne last year. Image: Xavier Le Roy and Scarlet Yu’s project Still Untitled, 2018. Photo: Anders Norell.

In the South of Sweden, hundreds of cultural workers arranged a joint protest last month, reacting to the news that Region Skåne has decided to cut its cultural budget for 2019. The cuts of 20 million SEK (1,9 million EUR) mean that the region will not allocate project funding this year. Operational funding, however, will remain at the same level as in 2018. “Such a large decrease in funding will of course have its consequences,” says Elena Tzotzi, curator at Signal – Center for Contemporary Art in Malmö. She continues, “this demonstrates, once again, how vulnerable the structure of project funding is, for those that are involved in long-term public projects without a secure economic base.” Last year, Signal arranged an exchange project between Copenhagen and Malmö with project funding from the region. Other art institutions that recently received project funding include the sculpture park Wanås Konst, the artist-run space Cirkulationscentralen, Konstföreningen Aura in Lund, Kristianstad Konsthall, and Kivik Art Centre. According to Cristina Glad (L) from the Culture Committee of Region Skåne, although project funding was put on hold, it will be reinstalled in the future, pending a review. Read the story in Swedish here.

The Gothenburg Biennial (GIBCA) receives substantial support from the Swedish Art Council. Image: House of Words at Röda Sten Konsthall during GIBCA 2015.

The Swedish Art Council prioritises visual art

An immediate consequence of Region Skåne’s cut in cultural funding is an additional reduction in funding from the Swedish Art Council. While the region will cut 5,5 per cent of its budget, the Art Council will cut one per cent of its funding to the region. “The principle is that when a region decreases their budget, we decrease our funding accordingly. And when they increase it, we increase it accordingly,” says Staffan Forssell, general director of the Art Council. For 2019, the Swedish Art Council has granted a total of 1,4 billion SEK (130 million EUR) to culture in the regions, with a special focus on visual art, prioritising three institutions in particular: Norrbotten’s County Art Museum – the new art museum in Kiruna that was inaugurated in the autumn of 2018; Virserum Art Museum in Kalmar; and Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art (GIBCA). According to Forssell, the focus on visual art is a coincidence. “We notice that there are a lot of exiting projects within visual arts, so this time they were well represented in several regions,” he says. Read the story in Swedish here.

The artist-run photo gallery Melk presents works by Ingrid Eggen. Photo: Ingrid Eggen, Ed 10.

New art fair in Oslo

Although praised for its vibrant art scene, Oslo does not have an established art fair. This is why seven Norwegian galleries – the Oslo-based Kunstverket Gallery, Gallery MELK, Gallery Golsa, QB Gallery, and Blomqvist Nettauksjon, and the Trondheim-based Gallery Dropsfabrikken and Gallery Ismene – have now joined forces to arrange the first Oslo Grafikkmesse (Oslo Graphic Arts Fair). The fair, which takes place in Blomqvist Kunsthandel in the centre of Oslo from 7–10 February, seeks to “facilitate networking between galleries, art centers and the public.” Presented as a pilot project, Oslo Grafikkmesse’s ambition is also to provide a starting point for future art fairs. The fair presents graphic arts, paper works, and other art editions from both established and younger contemporary artists. There is also a small event program, which includes an artist talk tomorrow with Marianne Heske, one of the more established artists participating at the fair.

Jacob Fabricius appointed curator of 2019 In/Situ program

Jacob Fabricius, who is currently the artistic director of Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark, has been named curator of the In/Situ section of the Expo Chicago fair, 2019. Installed within the Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, In/Situ features large-scale sculpture, video, film, and site-specific works. Fabricius will curate a selection of work featuring artists from the international exhibitors participating in the 2019 exposition, which will take place from 19–22 September. “I have been visiting and collaborating with Chicago’s incredible art institutions since the late 1990s, drawing from the diversity, architecture and history of the city,” Fabricius said in a statement cited by ArtNews. “Chicago has inspired my work a great deal, and Expo Chicago’s immersive ‘In/Situ’ program provides the perfect framework for my exploration into pressing issues of sustainability and political systems.”

Arts Organizations Out of Office. Image from

Launch of a new Nordic network for art organisations

“In a changing political landscape, and with the challenges it brings, small-scale and self-organized initiatives within the art field are particularly vulnerable. Both because of threats of violent actions, but also because of possible reductions in public funding. What happens when the cultural policy map is redrawn and the support that the organizations traditionally relied on suddenly are withdrawn? How do other cultural actors and the rest of civil society relate to a similar potential scenario? How can we work proactively in a larger network, where we develop new strategies and continue to work with the aim that art is for everyone?” These are the questions that will be discussed today by the new Nordic networkAOOO – Arts Organisations Out of Office, at Folk och kultur (People and Culture), an extensive conference on cultural politics in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Initiated by the Swedish art organisations Konstfrämjandet and Art Lab Gnesta, AOOO brings together self-organised and small-scale art organisations and collectives in the Nordic region. Current members include: UNICORN – Artists in solidarity and Skånes konstförening from Sweden; the independent gallery Studio 17 from Stavanger, Norway; the Finnish artists association MUU; and UKK, the Danish association for young artists and art professionals.

Performance by Olof Olsson. Photo: Mariann Enge.

Launch of Kunstkritikk International in Copenhagen

On 31 January, the launch of Kunstkritikk International was celebrated with a reception in Copenhagen at Kunsthal Charlottenborg’s Apollo Bar. The reception featured a new performance by Olof Olsson, in which he presented a monologue on the importance of writing in longhand, and a powerful sound performance by Jenny Gräf. Kunstkritikk was first established as an online journal in Norway in 2003. From 2010, it became a pan-Nordic journal with editorial teams in Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. In recent years, the journal has also translated selected articles into English for the English-language domain, With substantial support from the New Carlsberg Foundation and a number of important foundations in Scandinavia, Kunstkritikk has now launched a fully-fledged international version in English. Read more in English here.

Performance by Jenny Gräf. Photo: Mariann Enge.