Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Heritage, Art & Pokémon Go in Oslo

At the end of the summer (I can't believe it's almost three months ago!) we visited Oslo for a few days. I was blown away by what this city has to offer. I have created this photo gallery because there were too many of them to put them all up individually. Below is more detailed information about what we have seen.

Fram Museum ©Fenfolio2016

We started at Bygdøy Peninsula and visited the Kontiki Museum where Heyerdahl's balsa raft was displayed and the FRAM museum where the polar ship FRAM is shown. It was built in 1892 and is believed to be the world's strongest wooden ship and has sailed the furthest north and furthest south. It was used for three polar expeditions; Nansen (1893-1896), Sverdrup (1898-1902) and Admundsen (1910-1912). We also went to the Viking Museum where we were gobsmacked by the sights of the world's best preserved Viking ships and artefacts such as tools, handcarved cart and even well preserved fabrics!

At the National Museum of Contemporary Art I really enjoyed the conceptual artwork from Ilya Kabakov ("The Garbage Man")  and "Humus Line" by Oddvar I.N. Daren and Lars Paalgard where sound and visuals were combined. The interior of the building was also stunning! The building used to be the headquarters of Norges Bank.

The National Museum for Architecture was in particular of interest to Jaap, especially when he saw he could design his own dream house with the building blocks!
From learning about Norwegian architecture in the museum, we then admired the architecture outside at The Opera House; this is truely a magnificient piece of design. Not only from the outside and from the roof where you can walk on and have amazing views over the city, but also indoors. The waterside restaurant there serves delicious food, Yes, it's expensive but so worth it!

With our Oslo Pass we could travel with any bus or tram in the city so we jumped on one going to Ekebergparken sculpture park. It has a wide selection of large sculptures in a beautiful setting. Art and nature work so well together!!

Even more impressive were the 212 sculptures of Vigeland in Frogner Park. Created in bronze, granite and cast iron, they seek to portray the essence and emotions of human life from the foetus to old age. At the centre of the collection is the "Monolith". Carved from a single block of granite and containing more than 120 figures, the 14 m high sculpture may represent the struggle for existence. Vigeland also designed the outline of the park and was meticulous in his details. He died in 1943. Although the park was incomplete, enough had been done to ensure that it is a faithful representation of his vision.

The Monolith by Vigeland ©Fenfolio2016

Along the fjord is Akershus Fortress and Castle. At the end of the 13th century Viking king Håkon V Magnusson decided that Oslo should have a fortress at the top of the fjord and he moved in, the first permanent royal residence in Oslo. The fortress grounds are rich in history and perfect for leisurely walks with great views over the city and fjord. There are even more sculptures to be seen here!

We finished our short city trip at Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. This beautiful building was designed by world renowned architect Renzo Piano and is located on the tip of Tjuvholmen, overlooking the fjord. The privately owned museum houses an extensive collection of Norwegian and international post-war art as well as changing exhibitions of Norwegian and international contemporary artists.

We saw the intriguing piece of Damien Hirst "Mother and Child (Divided)"; a cow and her calf were dissected and each put in a box of fluid with space in between to walk through. Another iconic piece in white and gold leaf porcelain was "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" by Jeff Koons.

But the artist I was most inspired by was Anselm Kiefer and in particular his sculpture "The High Priestess/Zweistromland". This work consists of 200 lead (!) books placed on two gigantic shelves separated by a four-metre high glass plate. Each book is unique and weighs between 100 and 300 kilos! The title contains several references. Zweistromland, the land between the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris, creates association to ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, and the books bring to mind the library of Babylon. The High Priestess refers to a figure on a Tarot card, representing wisdom personified. Knowledge are preserved in books, but Kiefer's lead books preserves their content while at the same time makes it unavailable.

It was such a strong contrast to see us and other visitors admiring this beautiful building and all the artwork, whereas outside the majority of people we saw were youngsters and adults hypnotised by what's happening on their smartphone. It seemed this was a hotspot for Pokémon Go players!

Till next time, Norway...

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