Here we share some of the Norwegian cultural highlights we are looking forward to here in the UK in 2022, from Ibsen at the Coronet and a major exhibition of Munchs on loan from Bergen, to a spotlight on soprano Lise Davidsen at the Barbican. Looking further afield, this year also sees a new National Museum for Oslo and a ground-breaking Sámi Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Artist Spotlight on Lise Davidsen at the Barbican
This season the Barbican in London focuses on the talents of extraordinary Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen. The artist spotlight coincides with a new recording of works by Grieg performed by Davidsen and celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes – Edvard Grieg (Decca Records) – and will include a series of special events, beginning on 13 January with Davidsen and Andsnes performing a programme of songs by Grieg, Richard Strauss and Wagner.
This concert provides an opportunity to see the pair explore works by Strauss as well as a chance to witness Davidsen’s Wagnerian aptitude in the Wesendonck Lieder, alongside songs by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, including his only song cycle The Mountain Maid, an homage to the Norwegian countryside and young love, based on epic poems by Arne Garborg.
In May, Davidsen will sing with Freddie De Tommaso (tenor), accompanied on piano by James Baillieu, on works by Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Giordano, and Ernest Charles. This will be shortly followed by a masterclass by Davidsen for musicians from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. And then, in June, she will perform with the Oslo Philharmonic, with Klaus Mäkelä conducting, in a programme featuring Mahler, Sibelius and Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs.
For tickets visit Barbican.org.uk
Walter Presents: The Scandi Takeover
Scandinavian drama has taken the UK by storm, with its cosy knitwear, sharp interiors and beautiful landscapes. Now, Walter Presents is bringing three brand new series from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, which break the genre’s typical mould of storytelling, while maintaining the noir feel that viewers have come to love. The season opens with Outlier (launching 9 January on All4), a new Norwegian series from the makers of The River, set once again in the wild north of the country.
In Outlier, a teenager goes missing in a small town and the police quickly charge their main suspect. But criminology student Maja, who’s studying in London, comes back to her hometown to tell the police she thinks they have the wrong person. Maja is met with opposition from the police, who are proud to have solved the case, but eventually their doubts show. Slowly but surely, Maja becomes involved in the investigation, but the answer may lie closer to home than she’d imagined.
To watch Outlier and other Norwegian drama series visit Channel 4
Ibsen at the Coronet Theatre
The acclaimed Norwegian Ibsen Company returns to London’s Coronet Theatre, following its award winning production of The Lady From The Sea, with a new adaptation of When We Dead Awaken, Henrik Ibsen’s enigmatic final play. Ibsen tells the story of Rubek, once a celebrated sculptor, who returns to Norway in the depths of a winter with his estranged young wife Maia – only to bump into his great lost love and muse Irene. Is this their opportunity to return to a world where there is meaning, hope and happiness.
The production is directed by celebrated Norwegian director Kjetil Bang-Hansen, his first in the UK. “When We Dead Awaken is a strange, beautiful and bitter play about art, love, ambition and freedom,” states Hansen. “Like a musical quartet, four people, four elements, four voices, four instruments play different songs in a complicated melody. It is a play for our time, as they find themselves living in a changed world.” The production will have a Norwegian/British cast, and be performed in a mixture of Norwegian and English with subtitles, and will tour Norway following its UK premiere.
For performance details and tickets visit: The Coronet Theatre
Edith Carlmar at the Glasgow Film Festival
Four films by the Norwegian film director Edith Carlmar will feature at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival (running from 2-13 March). Working from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, Carlmar was a pioneering female filmmaker. Often described as ‘Norway’s Ida Lupino’, she formed a production company with her husband in 1949 and directed ten features over the next decade. Like Lupino, she became known for her lean, efficient style and ability to work across popular genres to tackle a range of social taboos, including drug addiction and abortion.
Carlmar frequently challenged censorship restrictions, working with a candour that her Hollywood contemporaries would have envied. The films at Glasgow include the moody, atmospheric Death Is a Caress (Døden er et kjærtegn), considered the first film noir to have been directed by a woman, while the riotous farce Fools In The Mountains (Fjols til fjells) remains one of Norway’s most successful comedies. Also screening is The Wayward Girl (Ung flukt) which features the starring debut of a young Liv Ullmann. The festival marks a rare opportunity to see four of Carlmar’s finest films on the big screen.
For screening times and tickets visit: Glasgow Film Festival
Lars Mytting’s The Reindeer Hunters
Published in March
This spring, Lars Mytting, author of the bestselling Norwegian Wood, publishes the second volume in his fictional Sister Bells Trilogy. The Reindeer Hunters is a novel conceived on an epic scale. The year is 1903, and twenty-two years have passed since Astrid Hekne died in childbirth (the tragic climax to the first novel in the series, The Bell on the Lake). Her son Jehans lives on a modest smallholding up in the hills near Butangen, having withdrawn from his community. He is drawn to freedom, to fishing and reindeer hunting, and one day meets a stranger over the body of a huge reindeer buck.
Outside the new church in Butangen, meanwhile, Pastor Kai Schweigaard still cares for Astrid Hekne’s grave. The village’s overworked priest is tormented by an old betrayal, which led to death and to the separation of two powerful church bells, cast in memory of two sisters in Astrid’s family. Now, Kai is set on finding an ancient tapestry made by the sisters – the Hekne Weave. The Reindeer Hunters is a novel about love and bitter rivalries, sorrow and courage, about history and myth, and a country as it enters a new era, about the first electric light and the ‘Great War’ in Europe, where brother stands against brother.
The Reindeer Hunters is published on 3 March. To purchase it and other titles by Lars Mytting visit: MacLehose Press
Oslo Architecture Triennale
Oslo Architecture Triennale 2022 will open 21-25 September, launching an ongoing programme of activities across neighbourhoods in Oslo. This edition of the OAT will shine a spotlight on the idea of neighbourhoods as places and horizons for rethinking our cities. With the working title Mission Neighbourhood – (Re)forming communities, the Triennale will explore how we form the places we share.
The Triennale will consider what the term “neighbourhood” actually means. It is, as its organisers explain, where communal activities take place but also the context where the structures of society at large are expressed. Research and development of neighbourhoods in Oslo will be at the centre of the Triennale activities, while simultaneously, it will seek out international projects, perspectives and best practices. The launch in September will mark the start of a year and a half of exploration through partnership, open calls, debates, research and much more.
For more information visit: Oslo Architecture Triennale
The Sámi Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
The Nordic Pavillion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will be an entirely Sámi event, the first of its kind, with the site transformed by three artists – Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara and Anders Sunna – who will represent Sápmi, their Sámi homeland. This is an historic moment: the first time that Sámi artists are presented exclusively in a national pavilion at the Biennale Arte.
Norway’s Office for Contemporary Art, which commissions this year’s Nordic Pavilion, stated that it aims to draw attention to the excellence of these Sámi artists, as well as the international relevance of their individual and collective histories. Their art emphasises the urgent situation experienced today by many Sámi – and other Indigenous people worldwide – concerning self-determination, deforestation, land and water governance. Specifically, these Sámi artists engage with the struggle to maintain the reindeer herding and fishing that are central to their existence. The artists reflect upon these concerns by drawing from Sámi ways of being and knowing, producing work of great power.
For more information on the pavilion visit: Office for Contemporary Art
Edvard Munch at the Courtauld Gallery
Edvard Munch: Masterpieces from Bergen at the Courtauld Gallery in London will bring a major collection of works by Edvard Munch to the UK. Running from 27 May to 5 September 2022, the exhibition is part of a partnership between the Courtauld and KODE art museums in Bergen, Norway. KODE in Bergen is home to one of the most important Munch collections in the world, originally assembled in the early 20th century by the Norwegian industrialist Rasmus Meyer (1858 – 1916).
The exhibition will bring together some 18 paintings from this collection. These start with seminal early examples of Munch’s ‘realist’ period of the 1880s, such as Morning (1884) and Summer Night (1889). These works set the stage for the highly expressive paintings of the 1890s, including remarkable canvases from Munch’s famous Frieze of Life series, which tackled profound themes of human existence. These work include Evening on Karl Johan (1892), Melancholy (1894-96) and At the Death Bed (1895).
The Courtauld’s permanent collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, on display in the newly refurbished LVMH Great Room, will provide rich context for the exhibition, which is sponsored by Morgan Stanley and supported by the AKO Foundation.
A New Norwegian National Museum
Opening in Oslo in June
Marking the largest museum in the Nordic region, Norway’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design will open on 11 June 2022. The museum, designed by German architects Kleihues + Schuwerk, is situated on Oslo’s harbour with spectacular views of the city. It is bolstered by the merger of four museums from various fields—older and modern art, architecture, design, craft, and contemporary art—and boasts an extensive collection of more than 400,000 objects, ranging from medieval tapestries to modern design classics and contemporary artworks.
There will be rooms dedicated to the museum’s significant collection of works by Edvard Munch, including The Scream, 19th-century landscape painting, royal gowns worn by Norway’s two queens, and a display of works by renowned Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn. Prominent Norwegian artists on display will include Harald Sohlberg, Theodor Kittelsen, Hannah Ryggen and Ida Ekblad. And, for the opening, the Light Hall – a spectacular space for temporary exhibitions situated on the roof – will be filled with an extensive survey of new Norwegian Contemporary art.
For more information on the museum and opening exhibitions visit: Norwegian National Museum
Keep following Norwegian Arts for interviews and in-depth features on these and many more events during 2022.
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Top photo: The new Norwegian National Museum on the waterfront in Oslo (courtesy of the museum)