14 August - 15 September 2014

IN THE SHADOW OF OIL – What does the oil economy do to contemporary art?

Residency Anne Szefer Karlsen, ERforS HQ, BE

This text was first published in the 8th edition of Kunstjournalen B-post (no. 1_15) – Battle and concensus in public space. Who holds the power to define what statements public space can contain? (eds. Sissel Lillebostad and Trond Hugo Haugen). The text was originally written in Norwegian and translated to English by Peter Cripps at The Wordwrights. Published here with minor alterations to the version in print.

Anne Szefer Karlsen

Pages of a catalogue of art on oil platforms in Norway.

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.

Gullfaks A, B and C were groundbreaking; combined drilling and production platforms, they were built and towed out to sea during the 1980s. (2) Interest in Block 34/10, commonly known as Gullblokka (the Gold Block) prior to its official naming as Gullfaks, had been considerable. (3) It was the first time a block on the Norwegian continental shelf had been granted exclusively to Norwegian companies: Statoil, Norwegian Hydro and Saga Petroleum. (4) For the county of Hordaland, Gullfaks was of major significance. It led to the building of the Mongstad refinery in the municipality of Lindås outside of Bergen and of Statoil’s management centre at Sandsli in Bergen, while for the art field, it meant an infusion of several million kroner in just a few short years. A total of 3.55m NOK were spent on art for the three platforms – some of it on purchasing existing works, some of it on commissions. At today’s prices, that amounts to just under 7.2m NOK. (5)
Work on these public art projects spanned roughly five years. For all three platforms, the art was procured by Hordaland Kunstnersentrum (Hordaland Artists Centre, today Hordaland kunstsenter (Hordaland Art Centre)), which had been directly invited by Statoil to manage the process. Hordaland Kunstnersentrum appointed the craftswoman Lillian Dahle and the artist Bengt Moberg as consultants for Gullfaks A, and the procedures they adopted set a precedent for the Gullfaks B and C projects, for which Hordaland RSU appointed, respectively, the consultants Marie-Ann Mürer and Gunnar Thorsen, and Therese Christensen and Odd Gjerstad. (6)
Although the architecture and function of the platforms imposed significant constraints on the space in which to manoeuvre as an artist, the choices the committees made still exhibit certain attitudes that were typical of the day. “There are no ideologically neutral cultural acts”, wrote the critic and art historian Terry Smith in an article entitled “The Provincial Problem” in Artforum in 1974, an attitude that is clearly evidenced in the cases of Gullfaks A, B and C. (7)
According to material in the archive, the Art Committee for Gullfaks A consisted of Bjørn Egeland, a representative for Statoil, in addition to the two art consultants. (8) It was decided that each cabin should have original artworks, 290 of which the committee bought for this purpose. We can see from the invoices and receipts from the project that the consultants made their purchases primarily in Bergen and Oslo, either directly from the artists, or via galleries, artist-run exhibition spaces and other institutions. (9) All commissions, on the other hand, which consumed the lion’s share of the budget, were awarded to artists in Hordaland. The same approach was used in the Gullfaks B and C projects. In retrospect, we would expect there to have been more discussion of whether it was appropriate for the Art Committees for Gullfaks B and C to apply the same approach as had been used for Gullfaks A, with commissions granted to regional artists while original works for the cabins were purchased in Bergen and Oslo.
According to the art plan, Gullfaks A contained “endless rooms and long corridors”. Because of the architecture and the materials used in the structure, it was ”not easy to know where one was in the building – south or north, on the fourth or the sixth floor”, the Committee wrote. The Committee wanted to use art to enrich an “otherwise unstimulating environment”, and would to this end buy and commission “engaging, poetic, provocative and beautiful art”. In addition to its “intrinsic artistic value”, the art should give the platform an identity, while also making the “environment more pleasant” and providing a “sense of security”. (10) There was no collector’s impulse creating a valuable collection, neither was the oil company striving to build its image or reputation. On the contrary, one of the guiding principles behind the purchases and commissions was that the art should be “accessible”. The works that were purchased and created for these platforms both had and still have little market value. Here the art was intended to domesticate a harsh environment, both architecturally and perhaps also culturally. Hence the emphasis was on works with high “accessibility value”, despite the fact that those works would be located far out at sea and only seen by employees and the few people who visited the platforms. (11) Today we would say that the Gullfaks art served merely as decor. Yet art also played a part in “the Norwegian oil adventure”, a point that is rarely made in Norwegian art discourse. Not only were the Gullfaks art projects political as such, they also eloquently indicated the kind of political impact the oil economy would have on the field of art.

The boom years that preceded the Gullfaks projects proved unreliable, and revenue from Norwegian exports dwindled because of international market fluctuations. In the mid-1980s, oil prices fell drastically and rapidly because of new attitudes in the OPEC countries, which opted to defend their market share rather than keep prices high. (12) At the time of writing, something similar is happening to oil prices, but that’s another story. (13) In the archive material about the Gullfaks A art project, one reads that plans for a printed brochure about the art on the platform were eventually shelved. In a letter dated 28 July 1986, the consultants informed the artists that: “Prospects do not look good for the information brochure we had envisaged in connection with this art project.” They add: “This is due in part to low oil prices, and reductions in Statoil’s budgets etc.”

Just as on land, the public art on the platforms did not bring about any kind of transformation other than the purely aesthetic. Neither was the art transformed by being placed on oil platforms. Thus these works remained fairly uneventful. Even so, the archive material does contain the occasional hint of excitement. In a letter artist Bård Breivik wrote to the Art Committee in connection with his competition proposal for a sculptural work for the reception area on Gullfaks A, for example, we read: “Oil platforms are among the most interesting architecture of the present. These immense structures constitute a winning of territory and pose many of the same challenges as did the cathedrals of medieval times. They are among the largest structures we can build given the existing physical constraints; they represent hard-won experience, and have even cost lives. They are in a sense the Pyramids of our age.”
A number of artists featured disproportionately in the Gullfaks projects. Unfortunately, the archive only contains pictures of the commissioned works, but there are none of the works purchased for the cabins. However, lists of these latter make it clear that they consisted primarily of prints of various kinds. There were also paintings, and smaller numbers of watercolours, collages, photographs, textile prints, wall hangings, drawings and ceramic items, such as plates and mugs. It is interesting to note that Svein Rønning contributed six works – presumably prints – to Gullfaks A, and another six prints to Gullfaks C. Furthermore, the Art Committee for Gullfaks B commissioned him to design a work for the reception area of their platform. Then there was Sissel Blystad, from whom two paintings were bought for Gullfaks B and two pastels for Gullfaks C. She too received a direct commission, for seven tapestries for Gullfaks B, which were hung on the landings of the seven-storey stairwell. The information brochure about the art for Gullfaks C also informs us that another of Blystad’s characteristic wall-hangings was purchased for one of the platform’s communal areas. Other artists whose works were purchased for the three platforms were: Roddy Bell, Olav Herman Hansen, Snorre Kyllingmark, Søssa Magnus, Svein Mamen, Marilyn Ann Owens, Elly Prestegård, Zdenka Rusova, Egil Røed and Gerhard Stolz. Yet others, such as Therese Christensen, Lillian Dahle and Bengt Moberg, were involved in the projects for all three platforms in the role of consultants, and as artists who contributed with purchased works or commissions, some of them awarded directly, others following competitions.

The Gullfaks A platform was the first residential platform of its kind in Norwegian waters. In the business section of Bergens Tidende for 20 August 1984, it was announced that Aker Stord to the south of Bergen, had won the contract to build this platform. It was towed out to sea in 1986, an event the same newspaper described as the “Gull-slepet” (the Gold tow). The August 1984 article also presents the plans for Gullfaks B and C to be put into action: “The Gullfaks C platform could be operational by 1991, although this schedule is so tight that it is more likely production will begin in 1992.” According to Statoil’s prospectus about the Gullfaks Field, which was issued before the project was put into effect: “The Gullfaks C platform could start production in Phase II, at the earliest in the first half of the 1990s. If a later starting point is chosen for the Phase II development, then Gullfaks C will come on stream towards the end of the 1990s.” In the archives at Hordaland Art Centre, however, we find that the Gullfaks C art project had been set in motion as early as 1988. “It was towed out to the oilfield in the spring of 1989”, we read in the information brochure about the C platform art project.
Time was short, and one could no longer wait to bring up the oil. This haste is also evident in the handling of the art projects. On 29 August 1986 the director of Hordaland Kunstnersentrum, Kari Patricia Kleppe, wrote to Bjørn Egeland at Statoil about the Gullfaks B project, with copies sent to the consultants Marie-Ann Mürer and Gunnar Thorsen: “One consequence of the tight time schedule is that we cannot justify the procedure of inviting artists to compete for public commissions.” The Art Committees and the artists they had selected were working against the clock to complete the commissions for the Gullfaks platforms.
Parallel with the growth and reforms that were reshaping the oil sector during the 1970s and 80s, the public sector was also being overhauled. Among other things, the Norwegian government set up a dedicated oil ministry. The state assumed ownership of the oil fields on the continental shelf and nationalised the sector. (14) In 1976 the county councils were established as independent administrative bodies, with various responsibilities devolved on them from central government. (15) In the field of art, the National Foundation for Art in Public Buildings (the forerunner of KORO (Public Art Norway)) was set up in 1976. The various art centres with their county affiliations – including Hordaland Kunstnersentrum – were founded around the same time, to be followed shortly afterwards by the county-wide RSUs. It is evident to us today that this infrastructure expansion also resulted in increased institutionalisation and bureaucratisation within the arts field. It was a policy pursued by the administration, politicians and artists, and fuelled by favourable economic conditions. Closed competitions for commissions and guidelines for the appointment of consultants were established – conventions that are still largely adhered to within the field.
Although the Gullfaks projects were in fact independent of government structures, protocols and requirements, Hordaland Kunstnersentrum – and later the consultants together with the Statoil representative – chose to follow the same conventions that had been established through the collaboration between artists and public authorities as mediated by the RSUs. In other words, it is evident that people in the art field were eager to use the structures that had been put in place over the past decade, which also helped to standardise the commissioning procedure for art in public spaces. The field of art for public spaces forms a distinct subsection of the Norwegian art world, in which the specialists who assume responsibility – i.e. the artist-consultants – are independent of any institution. Consequently, it is non-affiliated individuals who get to define the projects, making it difficult for institutional agendas to influence the projects. This is true not just of the Gullfaks projects, but also of most of the other public art projects of the past thirty to forty years.
The archive material from the Gullfaks projects consists of documents and photos, but with the exception of notes from one discussion, no minutes have been preserved at Hordaland Art Centre. Minutes that have survived from the Hordaland RSU, on the other hand, indicate that questions were raised about the impartiality of those involved with the Gullfaks B project. (16) After several rounds of discussion, it was decided in 1986 that the number of professional artists in the county was so small that it would be difficult to find sufficient competent people for the various juries and committees generated by the formal restructuring of recent years if the artists who sat on those bodies were prohibited from accepting commissions. Although most artists were probably well aware of global trends and inspired by the art of other countries, they did not open up their circles to outsiders or to forms of expression other than their own. In other words, the archive material suggests a protectionist attitude, and it is worthwhile asking why these projects give us this impression today. Protectionism might seem a rather harsh term in the context, but the material reveals internal loyalties and an unspoken sense of shared identity that is difficult to describe in any other way. The Gullfaks projects tended to fuel a regionalistic mind-set that favoured the local and the national. And when we turn our attention to regionalism, protectionism has a conspicuous part to play. However, the question is what region we are speaking of here. For protectionism in its various forms remains a prominent feature of oil-producing countries. (17)

Until the 1990s, the accepted wisdom in the social sciences was that it is poverty that creates the most favourable conditions for regionalism; opposition to a wealthier, more powerful centre provides the foundation for a common identity. Today, by contrast, the evidence seems to suggest that regionalism tends to thrive where there is wealth. Wealth allows one to seek political power from a strong financial position, which in turn stimulates interest and investment in cultural statements, favouring the production of a visual language that supports a shared identity. (18) Even so, regionalism has rarely been explicitly discussed in the field of art, not even in conjunction with the critical reassessment of the globalisation of the field. (19) Economics are therefore of major importance to the concept of regionalism, and as such they should perhaps figure more prominently in discussions about art as an additional factor to the vigorously debated role of commercial galleries in the global art market.
The rise of the oil nations has occurred in parallel with high-speed globalisation, a phenomenon that has been both a prerequisite for and a consequence of the oil itself, while the homogenisation of culture has frequently been regarded as a consequence of globalisation. (20) In the art field, this homogenisation has been evident both in forms of expression and in modes of dissemination, as is perhaps best illustrated by the celebrated biennial culture. Although globalisation has influenced the art world, it does not seem to have had as much effect on art institutions in countries where the oil industry is strong. For oil-producing countries and their institutions can act with relative independence from external economic forces, allowing them to avoid the trend towards cultural homogenisation and to define their own methods and goals. In other words, they are more resistant to globalisation processes. Ironically, oil is the one commodity that does not follow the logic imposed by globalisation, which has taught us that markets aren’t restrained by national borders: “Its political value as a globally traded commodity is such that it apparently cannot be permitted to slosh autonomously through the markets.” (21)

The 1980s were a period when the West-European art scene opened up to the world in a new way. The much debated exhibition Magiciens de la terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1989, for example, promoted the idea of a universal creative impulse. This was also the decade when the oil economy carved out an alternative path for artists in Norway, leading to structural changes that are only apparent to us today. In Norway in the 1970s and 80s, artists were focused on negotiating collective – exclusively Norwegian – funding schemes that were only conceivable because of the thriving economy, while their colleagues in most other countries were struggling with the tropes of globalisation: market liberalisation, the compression of time and space, the importance of networked societies, etc. Norwegian artists, by contrast, were – and still are – less dependent on integrating with broader international contexts and markets, which means that financially and in terms of reputation they are less susceptible to the vagaries of the globalised art field than are artists in other countries. At the same time we have to assume that, on the individual level, this was also a time when the arts in Norway became more internationally oriented. (22)
If we now consider the general development in Norway during the period when the field of art in public spaces developed – together with changes in the public sector – we see that the oil economy has distanced us somewhat from our neighbours, making us more like other oil-producing nations. It is easy to identify these similarities in society more broadly, as Simen Sætre points out so eloquently in his 2009 book Petromania – en reise gjennom verdens rikeste oljeland for å finne ut hva pengene gjør med oss (Petro Mania – A journey through the world’s richest oil countries to discover what money does to us). Sætre humorously describes the condition we find ourselves in as follows: “Something must have happened to our country. Something that can only be observed from the outside, from where it looks like a party that just goes on and on without one knowing what time it is or who the host is, but in your inebriated state you can just about hear the neighbours knocking. The elephant in the room. Our blind spot.” The account he gives of his trips to Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Gabon and Angola in 2007 and 2008 cast a light on Norway that produces an image very different from the one we are accustomed to. Attitudes towards the service sector and the labour market in general have changed, as have our perceptions of time, and hence also our notion of short-term and long-term thinking. Sætre finds various parallels between Norway and the countries he visits on his travels.

Consequently, it can be illuminating to consider the art projects on the Gullfaks platforms from an international perspective, and here I imagine art-Norway as belonging to a region of oil-producing nations – those who have got rich quick by harvesting the resources of the earth’s crust, whether from beneath the sea or the desert – who have invested some of their wealth in cultural products and contemporary art in particular. Our neighbours are no longer Sweden and Denmark, but rather the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the like.
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran is one example of how a thriving economy can help to nurture a “counter-force” to the traditional centres of power within the art world. After nationalising its oil reserves in 1950, Iran began a long reform process. The museum was opened in 1977, with Queen Farah Pahlavi as its principal patron. Together with two American curators, David Galloway and Donna Stone, and her own chief of staff, Karimpasha Bahadori, the queen oversaw the purchase of works by Western artists such as Dalí, Picasso and Warhol, and in due course the museum assembled the largest collection of Western art outside the West. (23)
Another example from the same year is the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture – FESTAC ’77, which took place in Lagos, the capital of the oil nation Nigeria. (24) As a cultural festival, this was a tour de force. Its ideology was to strengthen intercontinental cooperation in Africa and to challenge preconceptions about “black culture” – Négritude – which had taken root in the 20th century, especially in francophone West Africa, in order to avert further cultural colonisation. It was an event that helped Nigeria to make its mark as an important cultural nation, for here “[n]ational culture was […] produced not just as a symbol of political unity but as a distinctive form of exchange value that derived from oil and reflected its vitality. Its ‘substance’ remained mystical, part money and part blood”, as Andrew Aptner wrote in his 2005 book The Pan-African Nation – Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria.
One nation that has gained significance – and notoriety – as a global patron in the contemporary art field more recently is Qatar, although the kingdom’s private collections have been actively built by buying up artefacts, and historic and contemporary art from the region since the 1980s. (25) Today, these collections can be viewed by the public in a variety of museums run by the Qatar Museum Authority (QMA), which is currently undergoing transformation into a “private entity for the public good”, although it will still be run by the current Emir’s sister, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. According to ArtReview, the QMA spent around one billion US dollars on the purchase of art in 2013. In 2010, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani said: “Our mission is of cultural integration and independence. We don’t want to have what there is in the West. We don’t want their collections. We want to build our own identities.” (26) In other words, the overarching goal of the QMA is to define a particular art culture.
In the mid-1990s, Hordaland Kunstnersentrum was again contacted by Statoil, this time with a request to find art for the Troll A platform – according to Petro Global News in 2013 “the largest object ever moved by mankind relative to the surface of the earth”. The archive material relating to this project reveals a distinct shift in attitude concerning art for the platforms. For example, we read in the information brochure about the purchases and commissions: “With the art procured for the Troll facilities, Statoil has expanded its already substantial collection of Norwegian contemporary art” (my emphasis).

Compared with the three international examples given above, the organisation of the Gullfaks platforms has a kind of “hybrid” structure. Whereas the Iranian, Nigerian and Qatari institutions are run by respective government ministries or royal families, in Norway it is a state-owned company that invested in contemporary art. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the sums invested by Statoil are comparable to those spent by the state on public buildings during the same period, and that Statoil has applied the guidelines jointly worked out by the state bodies and artists. (27) During the 1980s, substantial sums were invested in a relatively small art scene using new democratic mechanisms for the handling of art projects that had been worked out between the country’s artists and public authorities, although there was no obligation to use this approach. The more or less conscious protectionist attitude that was thereby encouraged has left us with various challenges.
Although in the 1990s and 2000s artists began to show greater interest in gaining an “international experience”, (28) it is now evident that the optimism that once characterised the “art-Norway” project – with its official mechanisms to assess artistic quality and its democratically controlled boards and scholarships – in combination with an ever stronger oil economy has shielded Norwegian artists from globalisation and promoted protectionist attitudes that we are now finding it hard to shake off.



(1) This article received support from Hordaland Art Centre, in the form of unlimited access to its entire archive and funding of the author’s fee via a grant from Bergen Council (Theory Development – Grants for arts, literature, skills development for critics and art mediators). Work on the article was also supported by the organisation Enough Room For Space in Brussels. The author wishes to thank Ingrid Birce Müftüoglu and Hallvard Moe for initial discussions about the archive and for helping to map the relevant issues, and Arne Skaug Olsen for his usual diligent proofreading.
(2) Gullfaks A was the first platform on the Norwegian continental shelf to have single-occupant cabins (220 single and 55 double cabins). Infobrosjyre om Gullfaks, prepared by the department of information and public relations in spring 1984 on behalf of the licensees Statoil, Norwegian Hydro and Saga Petroleum.
(3) Statoil magazine 82.3, p. 31. From no.wikipedia.org we learn that Gullfaks is the name of a ship in Norwegian mythology which has the same speed on land and on sea, and that Gullfakse was among the fastest horses in Norse mythology.
(4) In 1978, the Gullfaks concession was given to the three Norwegian companies Statoil (state-owned), Norsk Hydro (mixed ownership) and Saga Petroleum (privately owned), with Statoil as operator.
(5) This sum was distributed as follows: for Gullfaks A: 1.19m NOK was spent on art and 119,000 NOK on administration, commission and consultancy fees; for Gullfaks B: 1,155,000 NOK, of which 518,000 NOK was spent on purchases, 415,000 NOK on commissions, and 222,000 NOK on pilot projects, administration and consultancy fees; and for Gullfaks C: 1,205,000 NOK, of which 490,000 NOK was spent on commissions, 715,000 NOK on purchases, and 245,000 NOK on pilot projects, administration and consultancy fees.
(6) Regionalt Samarbeidsutvalg (RSU) (Regional Cooperation Committees) were professional bodies linked to the regional arts centres. These committees, each of which consisted of an artist, a craftsperson and an architect appointed locally, were responsible for appointing art consultant(s), monitoring projects and approving art plans.
(7) Terry Smith, “The Provincial Problem”, Artforum, vol. XIII, no. 1 (September 1974), pp. 54-59.
(8) In Lillian Dahle’s private archive, however, Statoil’s representatives are named as Jon Bakken, Terje Vågenes and Jonette Øyen.
(9) For Gullfaks A: directly from the artists and from Galleri Langegården, Galleri Norske Grafikere and Hordaland Kunstnersentrum. For Gullfaks B: directly from the artists and from Bergen Kunstforening, Galleri Langegården, Galleri Lyshovden, Galleri Nikolai, Galleri Norske Grafikere, Galleri Parken, Hammerslund, Hordaland Kunstnersentrum, Kunstklubben. For Gullfaks C: directly from the artists and from Bergens Kunstforening, Buskerud Kunstnersentrum, Galleri Langegården, Galleri Parken, Galleri Norske Grafikere, Hordaland Kunstnersentrum, Kunstnerforbundet, Lille Øvregaten Kunsthåndverk, Riise Kunstgalleri, Smia Keramikk.
(10) Quotes from the art plan for Gullfaks A.
(11) In Norway, the field of “art in public space” is heavily influenced by the Enlightenment ideals of the 18th century, which paved the way for an ideology that believed art, wealth and luxury should be available to the secular masses.
(12) Revenues decreased to such an extent that the Willoch government was forced from power in 1986, when the Storting refused to approve its proposed budget together with an austerity package, one element of which was increased petrol prices. Skjeldal, G. and Berge, U., Feber – Historia om norsk olje og gass [Fever – The history of Norwegian oil and gas], p. 125.
(13) Sigvald Sveinbjørnsson, “Olje som våpen [Oil as weapon]”, Bergens Tidende, 20 October 2014.
(14) From “Oljefakta’ [Oil facts]” on the Norwegian Oil Museum website http://www.norskolje.museum.no/modules/module_123/proxy.asp?C=215&I=489&D=2
(15) Premiss: Regional kulturplan for Hordaland fylkeskommune 2015-2025, p. 11.
(16) The consultants Marie-Ann Mürer and Gunnar Thorsen asked the RSU for a statement “concerning the extent to which one should comply with the unwritten rule that an appointed consultant should not be granted commissions to someone in the committee”. The RSU responded with a decision that Lise Simonnæs, whom the Art Committee had selected to design a “printed fabrics textile” based on earlier works, “should be given the commission, even though [she] is a member of the RSU”. The minutes have also been preserved for the RSU meeting of 28 October 1986: “Given the small size of the art scene in Bergen, and the fact that HKS [Hordaland Kunstnersentrum] requires competent people to sit on its boards and committees, one should be cautious about applying rules too rigidly, and should instead consider each case on its merits”. The RSU minutes of 1986 indicate that this matter was frequently aired in the local art scene. At a meeting on 15 April that year, the RSU had in fact discussed a similar issue: “Hitherto there has been an unwritten rule that a sitting members of RSU should not accept commissions from a consultant appointed by that same committee. Several members of the Committee find this rule a hindrance. In their view the consultants are sufficiently professional always to base their assessments on artistic qualities rather than on the persons awarding the major commissions. For the record, it should be mentioned that this rule applies only to commissions, not to the purchase of finished artworks. It has been suggested that BKS [the Visual Artists Committee – the precursor to today’s Norwegian Visual Artists Association (NBK)] should be consulted concerning this practice.”
(17) See e.g. Simen Sætre, Petromania, 2009, p. 116.
(18) Ibid., Rune Dahl Fitjar, pp. 47-48.
(19) For a more detailed discussion of the impact of globalisation on the art world, see Pamela M. Lee, Forgetting the Art World (2012).
(20) “The process of globalization, especially as it manifests itself though increasing assimilation (homogenization) at the global level and dissimilation (heterogenization) within individual societies (including the increase of those whose choice of lifestyles differ from ‘traditional’ ones) as well as purposeful promotion of western-style liberal democracy and market economy, raises the question not only of the universality (unidirectionality) of humankind’s history, but also of the universality of values.” From Rein Müllerson, “Towards a multi-polar and diverse world?” First published in Akadeemia 6/2012 (in Estonian); subsequently on the internet on Eurozine (in English).
(21) p. 22, Oil Futures, Imre Szeman in Fuel, ed. John Knecht, 2009
(22) “This can be used to define regionalism: It is the politicisation of regional identity. Regionalists frame political issues with a basis in their regional identity, deeming the regional population to have certain common interests that they should advance as a group. This usually falls into one of two categories: Promoting the economic development of the region, or preserving a cultural identity that has become threatened by cultural standardisation (Rokkan and Urwin 1982:4).” From Rune Dahl Fitjar, Prosperous Peripheries – Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Explorations of the Determinants of Regionalism in Western Europe, 2007, p. 18.
(23) In recent years, the artists Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi have catalogued this museum’s holdings, since it lacked such a record. Rather than apply the usual practice of registering a work under the artist’s name, together with the year it was created and its title, they decided to focus on the size of the collection and the amount of space it occupies. In this way they avoided the impression of serving as bureaucratic substitutes for an institution that has not taken its responsibilities seriously. For more on this project, see the conversation between the artists and Polly Staple, the director of Chisenhale Gallery in London, from April 2013, on the internet: http://www.chisenhale.org.uk/archive/exhibitions/index.php?id=130. See also the interview with Queen Farah Pahlavi: “Former queen of Iran on assembling Tehran’s art collection”, The Guardian, 1 August 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/01/queen-iran-art-collection
(24) A documentary about the festival can be viewed on UNESCO’s website: http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/index.php?s=films_details&pg=33&id=29#.U_M-XEj1NSs. For more about the festival, see Andrew Aptner, The Pan-African Nation – Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria, 2005.
(25) See the article “Qatar’s culture queen” in The Economist, 31 March 2012. http://www.economist.com/node/21551443
(26) Transcribed from: Sheikha Al Mayassa: Globalizing the local, localizing the global, TEDWomen 2010. https://www.ted.com/talks/sheikha_al_mayassa_globalizing_the_local_localizing_the_global#t-360296
(27) For example, the archives at Hordaland Art Centre show that the public art project at Haukeland Hospital, which was begun in 1983, cost a total of 1.5m NOK, equivalent to around 3.6m NOK at today’s value.
(28) For a survey of the Norweian art scene in the 1990s with Oslo as its focus, I recommend the article by Erling Mostue Bugge, “Med et globalt hode, og en lokal kropp – Om 1990-tallets Dixikunst [With a global mind and a local body – on the Dixi art of the 1990s]”, in Kunst og Kultur, no. 2/2014, vol. 97.