It has taken ten years and NOK 300 million worth of private investment in addition to noisy debate, but last month Oslo’s newest attraction was officially opened.
It is, however, far between the sculptures, so put on comfortable shoes and bring with you a picnic basket, if you don’t prefer to enjoy a meal in the Ekeberg restaurant. “Ekebergparken” covers 63 acres within and atop a forested hill east of downtown. The 31 sculptures are esthetically placed in the beautiful landscape. The area was initially bought by the city in 1889 to preserve open space, but which the city has sorely neglected over the years.
The park combines nature, history and culture in an unique way. It has become a place to be, a place to enjoy and a place to learn. Several Norwegian and international sculptors are represented, and the plan is to increase the number of sculptures to 80 pieces in the years to come.
The man who launched and financed the entire project is the art lover and real estate magnate Christian Ringnes, 57, who also had to endure a barrage of skeptics and critics in a country not accustomed to philanthropy. Large gifts or sums of money given by wealthy benefactors are more often looked upon with suspicion rather than gratitude, and Ringnes was suspected of having all kinds of ulterior motives. He claims, however, that his only motive was to “give back” some of the wealth he’s accumulated in the real estate business to the city where he grew up.
Among the artists represented may enjoy Per Inge Bjørlo’s specially constructed installation of steel, Inner room IV, Sara Szes’ funny tree and steel sculpture Still life with landscape, Dan Graham’s elegant pavilion in glass and mirrors, James Turrell’s Ekeberg skyscape, Sean Henry’s large Asiatic woman, Walking woman, Louise Bourggeois’ loving couple hanging in the trees and Lynn Chadwicks moving construction Ace of Diamonds. Performance artist Marina Abramovic will unveil her contribution, a video installation based on 270 Oslo residents’ screaming into the camera at the spot on Ekeberg where artist Edvard Munch was inspired to paint his famed The Scream.
The park will be open 24 hours day, like the Vigeland Park on the Oslo west side.
New sculpture park opened in Oslo, written by Tor Kjølberg
Photos: Tor Kjolberg