25 August 2010

Art and oil

It has been a really busy week. During three days 18.-20.8.10 there were 8 vernissages in Stavanger! Galleri Neo / Sult / Kunstpalasset/ Kunstgalleriet / Kunstkuppelen / Galleri Opdahl / 2x Tou Scene. Phew. I managed to attend to at least the majority of them.

Was it a coincidence? Hardly.

What happened few days after the vernissage frenzy was the opening of ONS (Offshore Northern Seas) - the gas and oil industry fair in Stavanger. Loads of businessmen (and some -women) arrive here to exchange business contracts, socialize, and maybe shop.

The ReThink exhibition at Kunstkuppelen (Stavanger Kunstmuseum) is closely connected to and sponsored by the ONS fair, maybe to add a flair of good concience. The exhibition focuses on the results of climate changes, and therefore stand in stark contrast to a fair celebrating the main source of global climate changing pollution, the fossile oil and gas industry.

The Morten Viskum exhibition at Kunstgalleriet is sponsored by the Norwegian oil company Statoil, just as several exhibitions at Stavanger Kunstmusem have been lately. This will probably be a matter of discussion further on. Which effect does sponsorship have on the choices and presentations of the art? Does sponsorship equal sensorship?

The majority of the exhibitions are sales exhibitions. Probably hoping to attract wealthy buyers from the oil industry, whether companies or induviduals, this timing is perfect. The works of the artist of Gallery Sult, Sujata Bajaj, were sold out in a breathtakingly short time last time she exhibited here during ONS.

The two exhibitions at Tou Scene I take as a pure coincidence when it comes to timing with the ONS.

In addition, Nuart streetart festival of 2010 also presented fresh work this week. Italian streetartmasters Blu and Ericailcane painted the tower of Tou Scene as a prologue to the Nuart festival starting the 8.9.10. Being informed having arrived in Norway's capital of oil, they started right away painting themes like oil spill and pollution. The main piece of the tower is a man made of pipes drinking oil from a cup, leaking oil to his own bathingwater, while fishes and seagulls stare frightened at the result. This puts a very strong question mark to the ONS. Is Norway as an oil nation peeing in its own bathing water (or in Italian: spitting on its own plate)?