Choice of art projects
The Art Committee has decided to concentrate upon fewer and larger art projects in order to attain a dynamic relationship between the art and the building itself.
The Art Committee has decided to concentrate the art projects within the public areas of The New Opera House - Front of House, the exteriors of the building, and the surrounding spaces. This is in order to engage with, and reinforce, the energy that the building offers to the city and the public.
The Norwegian Opera has built up a considerable collection of paintings, photographs and objects of varying historical and artistic merit. This collection will be moved to The New Opera House. The Art Committee suggests that the main part of the collection is housed in the production area of the building - Back of House - and will contribute by drawing up a manual and catalogue of the work.
The Art Committee designates the building, the surroundings, and the construction site as the three main areas for art projects.
As an art project, this represents a major break with traditional integrated solutions in which the artist designs or adapts parts of the architecture on an independent basis. This model implies the architect and the artist working together on a basis of equality. It goes beyond the traditional notion of art or architecture as signature work. The projects will stand as examples of, and give experience with how artistic competence can contribute to part of an architectural design.
In light of the progress of the building project, the Art Committee has already presented plans for art projects in these areas. The board of The National Foundation of Art in Public Buildings and the Steering Group for Project New Opera House have approved the commencement of the pre-project phase for these art projects.
In the foyer, four open volumes are planned which will mainly consist of functions connected to the public wardrobe. Because of their size, these volumes will have a great impact on the space, creating the framework within which it is experienced. The Art Committee suggests an art project which within a functional framework covers both volume and surface. In this instance, the art project may represent an element of risk vis à vis the architectural intentions of the space.
In the large theatre, the Art Committee seeks proposals for the stage curtain. The curtain represents the final, innermost area for art projects in The New Opera House. When the public come to watch an opera performance they experience a building which on the outside consists of a horizontal and "democratic" structure. They pass through the transparent, luminous public foyer, through the wave shaped, wood clad wall, then into the theatre itself. The stage curtain represents both the meeting with, and the borderline between, the seating area and the stage, between the public and the performance. It is the pivotal point of the building, both physically and architecturally.
The New Opera House opens up contact between the land and the water both functionally and visually in terms of location and design. The building lies partly on land and partly over the water, so it may be perceived as a platform which "rises up" from the fiord. Visitors cross a bridge in order to reach the building, and the building gives both physical access to the fiord and a view of it. The facade and roofing materials - the white stone, metal and the large glass surfaces - emphasise the strong relationship between the building and the water. The large window surfaces in the public foyer help to draw the reflected image of the water into the building itself.
One of the ambitions of the Cultural Development Programme for the Bjørvika area is to ensure that the fiord landscape is developed as an arena for cultural activity. The Art Committee wishes to instigate an art project in the water to the southern and/ or western side of The New Opera House. The planned shipping barrier can possibly be utilized as a fundament. The art project might also create a connection between the Bjørvika pier and Bjørvika Cultural Harbour.
The proposed area lies outside the actual site of The New Opera House, so that the project will need to be approved and a collaboration set in motion with the owners of the site: Oslo Municipality and the Oslo Harbour Authorities. A plan will need to be drawn up, and decisions taken regarding the operation and maintenance of the project. An art project in the water will contribute to emphasising the relationship between the city and the water. This is the only project which is not connected directly to The New Opera House building and it's functions. In this case the Art Committee has also decided to organise a pre-qualification round followed by a closed competition in order to attract a broad range of artistic solutions.
The Construction Site
During the development of Bjørvika, Bispevika and Lohavn, one of the aims is to allow the public as much access as possible to parts of the construction area. The cultural ambitions for the new neighbourhood have been formulated by Oslo City Council and the City Development Committee: culture is also to be part of the construction phase. Areas which are possible to access during this period should be used to promote cultural activities.
The Art Committee has suggested two projects related to the construction period. The two art projects challenge traditional ways of using art in public building projects. The starting point is the construction process and the building site. These projects have a temporary character and operate in a public space which is not physically connected to the building.
The Foundation Stone
The New Opera House has been one of the most keenly debated building projects in Norway over the course of several years. National and local debates have raised such issues as where the building should be located, and whether a new opera house should be built at all. In the light of this, the foundation stone ceremony is of special importance as a symbolic act, and it will undoubtedly attract a great deal of attention from the public and the media. The Art Committee hopes to emphasis the importance of the ceremony itself by connecting it to a special art project.
The art project will be the interpretation of the foundation stone as a physical object, as a concept and/or an artistic intervention. The result might be anything from a concrete form to contemplation over the act itself. The project should draw attention to contemporary art at the time the foundation stone is laid, and signal the important role art will play in the building project. This art project differs from the others in that it is connected to an event. This gives the opportunity to explore more temporary modes of artistic expression. The Art Committee invites and challenges all those working within the field of contemporary art to deliver suggestions and ideas for this project - an art document that is relevant to this particular occasion. The art project will be advertised as an open competition.
The Photo Project
The Art Committee will invite four artists to explore these ideas through their camera lenses. The aim is to focus upon four different subjective photographic view points - each artist is at liberty to interpret the project as he or she sees fit. As a fifth "gaze" or perspective, The Art Committee will invite a writer to participate in the project.
This art project opens up the building process, inviting the public to come "back stage" and see how work is progressing. It will have an important function during the construction phase and as documentation afterwards. The project will recount the history of the building of The New Opera House in a unique way - a memory for the future. As an art project, it will have a special, non-traditional relationship with the building. By following the building process with an artistic "gaze", the art project becomes part of the architect's vision and ambition for the building rather than a set of images of the building as an object. In this way the Photo Project is part of the "narrating stories that change over time" idea, and "the monumental aspect of the building, represented through strong experiences that can be shared with others".
The publication will also relate to another kind of public arena.
Last updated 08.03.2007