Those not well-versed in Nordic culture might think Scandinavia is just all about salted herring and horned Viking helmets. To Dean of the School of Art Robert Storr, though, it is a rich and diverse environment for contemporary art.
In addition to his duties as dean, Storr has curated an exhibit called “North by New York: New Nordic Art,” which brings to the gallery of the Scandinavia House in New York City the work of 15 artists from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The show, which opens today, commemorates the centennial of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
“This is an attempt to give a series of tastes of what’s out there,” Storr said. “[The pieces] work as keys to open up what is an enormously big [Scandinavian] art world.”
Storr’s co-curator, Francesca Pietropaolo, said the exhibit does not attempt to define what it is to be Scandinavian or what Scandinavian art is. Instead, she said, it offers a range of perspectives in a variety of media from some of Scandinavia’s leading artists.
The show also demonstrates the increasingly international nature of Scandinavian culture. With one set of photographs taken in Beijing and another video based on Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s historic apology for the nation’s treatment of Aboriginal peoples, globalism’s influence on the region is a prevelant theme. New York and Tokyo-based Norwegian artist Gardar Eide Einarsson created for the exhibition an 8-by-8-foot banner depicting the Japanese character for “anger” in black and white.
“[Scandinavia] is no longer homogeneous,” Storr said. “It’s truly international.”
Storr has his own ties to Scandinavia, having curated his first major exhibition at the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Malmö, Sweden, in 1989. Storr, who said he “thinks internationally all the time,” has also curated shows in Brazil and New York City.
For some of the exhibition’s featured artists, however, their Scandinavian homes provided the inspiration for their work. Norwegian artist Marte Aas’ photographs depict a park in Oslo where her children used to play, taken over a period of four years. She said she was interested in capturing the changes in the park’s environment after the public area was sold to private owners. Aas printed the photographs as large books, which are displayed on a wooden table in the gallery.
The show will run until Aug. 19.