Last Sunday I returned from a week in Norway. I went over for an a-ha event, and was lucky enough to be able to spend a few more days there than I normally would, which was great. I had heard that although the sculpture park won't officially open until next summer, some of Magne's works are already installed at Fornebuporten, where the park - as well as office and living space, shops and more - are being constructed. So on a beautiful Friday morning, I went out to Fornebuporten to see what I could.
You can see a rendering of the buildings and surrounding area here. When I arrived, it was mid-morning and fairly quiet apart from some construction noise. Building A is still very much under construction, fenced off with materials stacked inside, but Building B is occupied. A local friend had told me to walk down into the Atrium to see some tile works embedded in the sidewalk/pavement there, and that inside Building B, the reception desk had been transformed by one of Magne's sculptures.
Those two brief descriptions didn't do the works justice, and neither will my description here - in part because I don't want to publish too much about it too soon. As it's still under construction, and there hasn't been much media so far about Magne's works there, I sort of feel like sharing too much now would be spoiler-ish, and I don't want to ruin the experience for anyone planning to go next year when the park officially opens.
That said, I did post several photos on Instagram if you want a peek:
the buildings and the location where one of the huge jars will be installed next year
'Imprints' text in the tile
couldn't resist putting together these two segments of an Apparatjik lyric
part of the letter 'n'
another small part of the works
(and another related photo, I believe this was taken at Fornebuporten, when the early installation work was done?)
About the tile work in the atrium, the photos above should give you a good idea of the format concept; I have deliberately not included an overhead photo to show the complete layout ;-) But yes, as you may have guessed or heard elsewhere, these tiles are in letter shapes across the area in the atrium. The atrium includes a grocery store, a beauty salon, and a couple of other stores which have not opened yet. As I walked around to look at each letter, people came and went across the pavement, walking with purpose from point A to point B, rarely looking down as I was. Initially I felt a little out of place there, making a deliberate and methodical study of the art - and taking copious photos and videos so I could revisit the works after I returned home - all while people went about their daily work or errands, seemingly unconcerned about the difference between a colorful glazed letter-imprinted tile and the regular nondescript paving stones.
But then I reminded myself that these tiles have a purpose and an expression, and were painstakingly designed, created, laid out and embedded seamlessly within the pavement so that they *could* be looked at, should a pedestrian want to. So after my initial feeling of awkwardness at dwelling so long over each letter, I gave myself up to it and spent as long as I wanted to. I read every word, I looked at things from different angles, I smiled happily whenever recognition struck me in unexpected ways. Each letter can be experienced by itself of course, and all together they present yet another experience.
I really don't want to give too much away about the tiles themselves, at least not this early, so a lot of what I want to share will have to wait for a bit. I can say that I was surprised by how much even this 'incomplete' experience touched me. One of the letters actually moved me to tears, right there on the spot - I had to pause and blink them away, lifting my eyes from the ground to a neutral point for a moment before I could see clearly again. I can't remember any other work of art or poetry that has done that to me.
After I spent time looking at each letter, I settled down on a bench to eat a sandwich and an apple I had brought with me from my hotel. It really was a beautiful morning, and why not enjoy my lunch surrounded by art? :-) Then I went up to ground level and walked over to Building B. Along the way I spotted what must be a rough-in for several scultpures yet to be installed; I imagine there are several of these little 'zones' laid out around the complex. Inside Building B is the reception desk sculpture Magne created, which is very colorful and much larger than I expected. Here I didn't feel comfortable spending as much time as I wanted to, mostly because by this point it was lunch time and employees were walking through the area on their way to the cafeteria or to take their lunch outside to eat. I would recommend timing a visit for a less busy time of day, for sure!
In all I took 125 photos and 30 videos while I was there, and that with only one small portion of the works installed! I am glad I had that opportunity to look at them before the crowds at the opening next summer - I'll take awkward and alone over crowded, distracted and frustrated anyday ;-)
If you live near enough to make the trip, or will travel to Oslo in the coming months, I would recommend visiting Fornebuporten to see the works yourself even if the rest of the sculptures are not yet installed. And if you have no chance to go there, for whatever reason, I will post my photos at some point once I feel it wouldn't be spoiler-ish to share them :-)