FOR A GENTLE SONG WOULD NOT SHAKE US IF WE HAD NEVER HEARD A LOUD ONE
“The world is in deep twilight, a perpetual twilight from which it can no longer emerge. There is no wind, and a transparent mist carries the waves of the last dying light. Everything, near and far, is unreal, without spatial dimension. The frozen mountains soar up into the dark grey sky like white shadows. Weightlessly, they seem to sway.
With a soft musical note, the dark water nestles in the round white bays and in the river estuaries, and glides in the calm obscurity over to the broad sea, which in the distance seems to melt into the grey of the sky.
The scene has nothing earthly in it. Withdrawn, it seems to lead its own contained life. It is like the dream of a world that is visible before it takes shape as a reality.”
Christiane Ritter, A Woman in the Polar Night, 1939
A lyrical observation and description of the Arctic is a seldom appearance, at least during a period that witnessed several decades of an international race to the North Pole with the white male Polar hero as one of its main protagonists. Here is a person experiencing the Arctic as a place with all its beauty and cruelty including the daily challenges of surviving in one of the world’s harshest regions.
Even if these physical and emotional observations were written down almost eighty years ago, they can still be applied today. The question is, however, for how long. In the age of the Anthropocene, which scientists propose is an age that began when human activities started to have a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems, we can well witness the disappearance of what Ritter describes in her book, amongst other things: the solitary landscape, frozen; the daily struggle to survive in a sparse area without agricultural possibilities; fear, subjugation and dependence on the forces of nature.
The Arctic region has evidently been a subject of exploration for many, but what is important in examining this region is that it is not only deeply influential and seismic for the rest of planet Earth but also a place of longing, capable of fulfilling utopian projections and culturally-driven adventures. And it is here where the exhibition For a gentle song would not shake us if we had never heard a loud one intercedes: it aims at taking a more lyrical position in adverse to the grand mythical stories of the Polar explorer and the sober ones of the scientists by using the artistic lens as a means to interweave the diagnostic and analytical with the utopian and poetic.
The exhibition takes place in relation to the Nordic Photographic Event Oslo 2016, which is an umbrella project responsible for the production and dissemination of Nordic photographic art through two specific projects: The Fotobokfestival Oslo and the exhibition at Fotogalleriet. The Nordic Photographic Event Oslo is embedded in the collaborative Northern Photographic Network amongst Northern Photographic Centre, Oulu; Centrum för fotografi CFF, Stockholm; Galleri Image, Aarhus; Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen; The Icelandic Contemporary Photography Association, Reykjavik; The Norwegian Association of Fine Art Photographers (FFF) and Fotogalleriet.
Friday, 9 September:
14:00: Tonje Bøe Birkeland. Artist Talk at Kulturhuset / Youngstorget
15:45: Lasse Lecklin. Artist Talk at Kulturhuset / Youngstorget
18:00: Jacob Kirkegaard. ISFALD – Live performance and artist conversation with Anne Hilde Neset (Artistic Director, NyMusikk) at Fotogalleriet. In collaboration with ultima oslo contemporary music festival
Saturday, 10 September:
18:00-20:00: Katja Aglert. Book signing of Winter Event–antifreeze at Youngstorget
18:00-20:00: Tonje Bøe Birkeland. Book launch/signing of The Characters at Youngstorget
The exhibition is supported by FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, Finnish-Norwegian Cultural Institute, The Danish Arts Foundation, The Nordic Culture Point