Kunstjournalen B-post 2015
Battle and consensus - art and public space
A Critical Look at Berlin’s Reconstruction, Collective Memory Practices and Thanotourism.
In the autumn of 2014, after many years of work, a kind of line is being drawn beneath the art project for Government Building 6 (R6), even though not everything is quite as it should be.
In the commissioning of public art, there is a tendency to view the art as “the cherry on the cake” which sadly it often it is: a sweet, pretty, finishing touch that is less than a mouthful and by no means integral to the rest of the cake; at best it complements the cake and at worst it is an attempt to conceal a bad cake. The cherry is commonly known as plop art . A successful work of public art is not the cherry but a vital ingredient in the recipe for the cake itself; an ingredient that must be added to the mix early on, before baking, to be bound together with the other ingredients.
The oil platforms in the North Sea can be seen as a historical and economic condition that has been decisive in shaping the art field in Norway as it is today. Not only have tax revenues from the oil sector poured money into the public coffers, which has in turn been distributed to artists and art institutions via various funding schemes, the oil sector has also invested directly in the arts. The impact of the oil economy on the arts has generally been debated from a moral perspective, where the question is whether artists should accept support from an industry that seems so incompatible with sustainable development. I intend rather to scrutinise what happens to the art field when it is embedded in the oil economy. A perusal of Hordaland Art Centre’s archive material concerning three public art projects for the oil platforms Gullfaks A, B and C also reveals links to other petro-states and their attitudes towards contemporary art.