the process is the artwork

A Scavenger in Stavanger

The “oil capital” of Norway, Stavanger, was my temporary home last month while preparing an exhibition in the city.

The economic recession in Europe doesn’t seem to have reached this far north yet, and the locals are refurbishing all over town; discarded materials “flood” the streets, in the form of bulging waste containers lined up one after another. Good news for me, it provides enough free material for my site-specific installation at Prosjektrom Normanns. The exhibition is related to the notion of ruins.

Stavanger is quite the picturesque city, with charming wooden houses and narrow alleyways, perfect for touristic snapshots. What attracts me however is the industrial/post-industrial cityscape on the outskirts of town, such as these erect grain silos (which are still in function). They are symbols of an old era though, architectural memento moris. Remember: Norway’s petroleum reserves may soon come to an end. What then, spoiled inhabitants?

In Pedersgaten (Peder’s street), lies a little treat: Løvaas Brukthandel – a second hand store for books and magazines, an inspiring place where it is easy to spend money. A friend bought Løvaas’ entire reserve of rare, censored porn-magazines for an art-project (printed porn was censored in Norway with a black rectangle covering sexually active genitals up until 2005), and the aircraft carrier will probably charge him blood money for the extra weight.

Right next to the Petroleum museum, lies the “Geoparken”, another local treat. It is an activity park made out of recycled materials from the oil-industry. It has been completely tagged-down, giving the place texture and energy. Apparently the authorities don’t appreciate the expressiveness as much and plan to tear the whole thing down. In my opinion, the cultural landscape of Stavanger will be much poorer without it.

That concludes my biased, guided tour of Stavanger for now.

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