Meet the contemporary art at Tjuvholmen.
Fredrik Raddum: One foot in the grave
Astrup Fearnley Museet
Photo: © Nic Lehoux
The area known as Tjuvholmen is the most recent addition to Oslo's varied collection of boroughs and part of the ongoing development of the city's waterfront. The buildings that make up the area are drawn by some 20 different architects, creating a concentrated display of current trends in architecture. This cityscape gives the area a distinct here and now atmosphere which resonates well with the borough's emergence as a hub for contemporary art.
Making Tjuvholmen an art district has been part of the developers' visions from the get-go, and the borough offers art in many forms. Some works are made part of the outdoor scenery, such as the sculptured figure walking on stilts in the midst of a canal, seemingly headed towards the fjord. The commissioned roundabout decoration One foot in the grave adds flair and humor to Tjuvholmen's parking garage.
Several galleries of international standing are located here, in customised ground level spaces with tall windows that blur the lines between the exhibitions and the streets outside. The passer-by, too, gets a dose of art. Those who enter can examine works by big names as well as carefully selected rising talents. The galleries also put on more unconventional art stunts, like when Stolper + Friends covered a warehouse building with large-scale versions of Damien Hirst's butterflies.
Astrup Fearnley Museet
At the point where Tjuvholmen stretches into the Oslo Fjord lies the new Astrup Fearnley Museum, home to the Astrup Fearnley Collection. This collection of modern and contemporary art is counted among the most significant of its kind in Northen Europe. It is distinguished by its focus on acquiring individual, groundbreaking works rather than trying to cover entire periods or movements. Young American artists were previously dominating, but latter years have seen the inclusion of significant voices from Europe, Brazil, Japan, China, and India. Works from the permanent collection are complemented by rotating exhibitions. Paul Chan and Cindy Sherman are confirmed for 2013, and other great guests will surely follow.
Art with a beach - or vice versa
Astrup Fearnley Museet is flanked by Tjuvholmen sculpture park, with canals, lawns and a little beach attached, and with seven sculptures on outdoor display. The sculptures are all made by significant contemporary artists, and are suited for both contemplation and climbing. The park has easy access from the museum, and vice versa, reflecting an important overall goal for architect Renzo Piano: To create a space where art is accessible to everyone, and where it becomes an integral part of urban life.
In sum, "art made accessible" is a fitting description of the entire borough of Tjuvholmen. Whether you are looking for profound experiences or causal encounters with art, whether you are curious or just out to have your prejudices confirmed: Tjuvholmen's varied collection of art spaces offer ringside seats to the ongoing creative experiments and mind boggling craziness that is contemporary art. Followed by some coffee and a swim, if one so desires.