TREK 2006: Norway – Artscape Nordland

The country of Nordland contains 240,000 inhabitants and is located in northern Norway. This isolated region boasts incredible landscapes and painfully cold winters. As much of Norway, Nordland is dominated by rock, ice, and water. These factors permeate the consciousness of Norwegians and are steadfast members within every facet of design.

Artscape Nordland is an international art project that began in 1992 and was completed in 1998; spanning 33 of Nordland’s 45 municipalities. Because of a lack of museums, galleries and other art collections throughout all of Nordland, the idea of transforming each municipality into an outdoor museum of modern art was presented in 1988. The plan was to invite an international or Norwegian artist to design an outdoor modern art piece within each municipality at pre-selected locations. The art works draw heavily upon the dramatic landscape and the brutal climate shifts typical of the region. To design effectively and sustainably, understanding the natural processes of our surroundings is crucial. In Southern California, the difficulty lies in the peeling away the many layers of development, destruction, and industry to expose the core containing the native natural systems. Only when these systems have been found, analyzed and synthesized, can a truly successful design emerge. The artscape installations in the Country of Nordland harness the power or aesthetically, and create designs that alter the observer’s experience of place and enhance their understanding of landscape.

From Norway’s capital, Oslo, the journey to the southern-most border of Nordland will take approximately two days and will allow me to immerse myself into the Norwegian culture and understand its landscape before arriving to my destinations. After the two days of roadside immersion, I will visit four different municipalities scattered throughout the region: Lødingen, Rana, Skånland, and Vågan. The permanent outdoor art installations found in these four municipalities represent a cross-selection of the works within Artscape Nordland. I believe my 2006 TREK to the northern reaches of Norway will infuse my design work with invigorated appreciation and excitement for art and the landscape.

“The eye in the stone” by Anish Kapoor The artist used local stone to create this house-like structure with unfinished rough sides and curvy lines. The placement of the art at land’s end highlights the relationship between rock, water and ice dominate the Norwegian landscape. The doors/windows of the piece frame various views of the surrounding landscape that are, in turn, augmented by the reflective walls inside the structure.

“Havmannen” by Anthony Gormley This large metal statue stands guard for a small fishing village in the Municipality of Rana. The statue is feature-less yet exudes a very sorrowful silhouette of a person gazing out to sea. The expansive fjord dominates the landscape while this statue captures the connection Norwegians have to the sea.

“Seven Magical Points” by Martti Aiha This strikingly beautiful work of art is resting on the rocky shoreline in Skånland. This metal carving combines Viking art with modern twist and introduces an eco-revelatory approach to understanding the landscape. With the varying tides, the art rusts at different levels to create completely new aesthetic experience daily, monthly, and yearly.

“Untitled” by Dan Graham This large art piece is located in the most remote of the four municipalities, Vågan. This work truly celebrates the Norwegian landscape by using a series of connected semi-transparency allows for additional viewing scenarios that require the observer to become an active participant.