From now until the summer, an exhibition showing works of art from the Storting’s extensive collection will be on display in Eidsvolls plass, the square directly in front of the Storting.
“We want the Storting to be an open house so that all those interested can come inside – listen to the debates, take part in a guided tour of the building, and see our works of art. COVID-19 has made it very difficult for us to be as open as we’d like. Among other things, we’ve had to cancel our regular guided art tours,” said President of the Storting Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen.
Now, however, visitors will be able to see and read about several of the Storting’s works of art outdoors.
“The fact that these works of art are in the Storting affects how we interpret them. They are coloured by the institution that houses them. It’s easy to read politics, social commitment and discord into the pictures, sculptures and installations. This is one of the elements that makes the Storting’s art collection so unique,” Trøen added.
Art, politics, history
The Storting’s art collection numbers over 800 works. Some of these are well-known and important contributions to Norwegian art history; many others are less familiar.
The tradition of art in Eidsvolls plass started with the unveiling of the Storting lions in 1865. These were the first outdoor sculptures in Christiania, as Oslo was called at the time. A century later, Unge Kunstneres Samfund, a society for young artists, displayed a work by Kjartan Slettemark in the square. Called On reports from Vietnam. Children are doused with burning napalm, their skin is charred black and they die, it was subsequently attacked with an axe and had to be removed. The episode prompted a debate on modernist and political art. Marianne Heske’s House of Commons project, which was erected outside the Storting in 2015, was also the subject of debate.
The Storting lions and Slettemark’s Vietnam work are both included in our exhibition. By displaying these and other works, curator Eivind Torkjelsson hopes to show how the Storting’s art collection occupies a unique position at the crossroads between art, politics and history.