Project concept

Memories of the North is an exhibition of ongoing investigations into the theme of Nordic cultural identity, souvenirs and nation branding. The first venue of the exhibition tour was Galleri S12 in Bergen, Norway in April 2008.

How well do our existing national symbols, souvenirs and cultural icons, represent our diverse contemporary societies? What does it mean to travel and what is a souvenir? How can we craft alternatives to those currently offered by the travel and souvenir industries? The assembled artists are engaged in a long term investigation of these questions, that continues as the exhibition travels to new venues in the Nordic countries.

In February 2007 the Swedish art/craft/design-collective S-U-B invited four other artist groups from Denmark, Finland and Norway to a meeting in Stockholm, a seminar in Rovaniemi and a two week artist residency at Nordnorsk Kunstnersenter in Lofoten ("Souvenirs"), to provide a foundation for the participants and a starting point for research. Three individual artists have also been invited to join the project that currently hosts 16 artists.

The initial concept was to invite socially-engaged artists and artist collectives to use their diverse practices to explore the project themes of Nordic cultural identity, souvenirs, tourism and nation branding. Most of the artists have responded to this request by creating participatory projects that engage local communities in a search for ways to create ”truer” representations of people and places. These projects question, acknowledge and re-create symbols and stories by inviting the public to engage in different forms of aesthetic dialogue: workshops, participatory interventions, performances and an exhibition that displays the results of these activities. The project grows as the participants engage other artists and local communities along the way.


My flag

”What flag would you want to represent you?” This question is posed by the Swedish artist group S-U-B who is inviting you to design your own Norwegian flag. S-U-B will be positioned at their sewing station at Østre Skostredet 5, to turn their suggestion into reality during the first week of the exhibition (April 11th,12th,13th,15th and 16th). By transforming the proposed flag drawings into “real flags”, S-U-B wants to give each proposal the dignity it deserves and create a representation of the people of Bergen that goes beyond nationality. Each flag will be the result of a collaboration, as S-U-B will be interpreting and modifying the drawing in order to translate it into textile.“My Flag” remains as an interactive workspace throughout the exhibition period were the visitors can sit down and make a drawing of their flag. Requests for flag proposals will be especially distributed to centres for youth, seniors and immigrants. The finished flags will be flown on a line over the street at Skostredet. As the project continues to travel trough the Nordic countries, new flags will be added.

Collecting socks

Benjamin Slotterøy has been collecting socks from the inhabitants of Lofoten to create an artwork that the community has contributed to, and therefore also is a part of. Knitted socks are something most people in Scandinavia can relate to, especially in Norway with its tradition and history of fishing. Knitted socks have been a part of every fisherman’s outfit, often made by the wives or female relatives of the fishermen. Benjamin is now urging the inhabitants of Bergen to submit their leftover socks to S12. Visitors can contribute to the design of the “sock-sculpture” by sowing their socks on to it. Together we hope to create a giant souvenir - a memory from all the people who contributed to the project.


Christmas, time of eating and pleasure

The C.S.C.A.A. (Contemporary Santa Claus Artist Association) is a constant strain on the tourist industry of Rovaniemi in their criticism of the commercial exploitation of the local culture. “Christmas, time of eating and pleasure” shows the two artists, smeared in ketchup and mayonnaise, transformed into Rovaniemi’s greatest tourist attraction.

C.S.C.A.A. says: “The piece shows the scatological signs of the abuse-culture-industry in Lapland. New values are brought through new politics. But do we have the knowledge or courage to question these postcolonial values when we create products of our culture?”


Moving Places, Moving Objects
With the souvenir-plate and souvenir aesthetics as a point of departure, the Bergen based art group Temp, are investigating and collecting memories and stories. Souvenir aesthetics are traditionally idealised, coarse, and generalised, far from any connection with the place of origin or the ‘authentic experience’. Connected to travelling this idea of ‘another place’ is an important part of building (national) identity.The plates are a mixture of manipulated readymade souvenirs and personal memory plates. At the meeting-point of these categories, we hope to show the local/global and private/public qualities of the souvenir and how we bring our own reflections with us when we travel.As a backdrop for the project, Temp has created a wall painting/wallpaper. The beach and the palm trees are as much a part of Norwegian contemporary identity as fjords and farms. They are also symbols of the Norwegian invented place: ‘Syden’ (’The South’), which is an idealised and generalized name for a beach holiday somewhere south. Every Norwegian will know exactly what and where you mean when you use this expression. So, is this a more real, authentic representation of our national identity than an object made in China, in slightly off colors, depicting people in national costumes saying ‘Memory from Norway’?Moving places Moving objects is exploring this landscape of the private and public identity through objects we invent as meaningful: the souvenir. And the souvenir works, doesn’t it?


Nordic Adventures / RACA Tours

Individuality, storytelling, authenticity and interaction... Places/communities were tourism is a major part of the local economy are challanged to reinvent the tourist/experience-industry. To become more extreme and ”authentic” is an act of balance between exploration and exploitation. In the spirit of Thor Heyerdahl, the vikings and the fishermen RACA are doing their own mapping of experience-tourism and its inpact on local communities. Everything from extreme adventure to holistic travel agencies.

RACA is offering tours in the harbour of Bergen on Saturday the 12th in exchange for a story: your best trip, best souvenir – dream or reallity. Participants will be rewarded with a diploma and postcards. During the night of the opening at S12 you are welcome to make a reservation with RACA Tours to take part in this one time only event. The diplomas and stories will become a part of the exhibition after the event. The project is based on RACA’s research from their trips to Svolvaer and Rovaniemi, where they were in dialogue with tourism companies, travel agencies and local inhabitans.

Eva Brownies

"Golden Fish Part II" - Nordic Heavy Metal Intervention

Bergen and Norway is famous for its vibrant Heavy Metal scene. The Finnish artist duo Eva Brownies will be seen roaming the streats of Bergen in search of participants for the ”Golden Fish Part II” – a Nordic Heavy Metal Intervention that will result in a documentary exploring the depths of the dark Norwegian mind. This “participatory-performance-documentary” is challenging the citizens of Bergen to act out with the help of music and wigs. How do the Norwegians respond to this “Heavy Metal tourism” and the wide spread myths of Norwegian Heavy Metal musicians engaging in occult rites, living in caves and burning churches?

"Golden Fish Part II“ is a continuation of "Golden Fish Part I – Finnish treatment and Burning Whish Barrel” that was made in Svolvaer - exploring the wishes and souvenirs of the citizens through a symbolic “burning wish barrel” and souvenir exchange stand.

Daniel Peltz

2,96 cm Movement
[0.08 x 37 days]

Moving day
today is not a day
it is yesterday and it is tomorrow
moving day is a global movement
a chance for us to move
it is a quiet, slow dance
not a romantic celebration but an embodied way of knowing
knowing the only constant in a world of variables,
constant change

In the 2,96cm movement, Daniel Peltz invites the people of Bergen to engage in a movement-based meditation on the origins of tourism and travel by collectively moving the town of Bergen 2,96cm to the west (the distance an average glacier will travel over the course of the exhibition). This work is part of a micro-tourism movement that Peltz began in Svolvaer and now travels with the exhibition. On Moving Day (April 12th 2008) Peltz will deliver a Movement Day speech, lead a workshop to prepare the participants for their collective movements and distribute custom designed compasses, measuring devices and maps. The participants micro-movements will imbue these objects with value, allowing them to be sold as souvenirs of the most enduring form of travel - souvenirs of movement.

Digital Quilt

Daniel Peltz is exhibiting the result of a workshop with the ladies of Svolvær’s Husflidtslag (sewing circle) in Lofoten. The quilt workshop was designed as an exercise in digitally-mediated, friendship quilting. Workshop participants used flatbed scanners as photographic instruments to create scans of their skin that formed the base imagery for the quilt. The images were digitally manipulated by the members of the sewing circle and are now presented as a light-based fabric, projected onto a blank quilt backing. The installation is interactive and changes as you touch it.

Lotte Slotterøy

The Knitting Troll

One of the most magical creatures in Norwegian mythology has been reduced to one of the most popular souvenirs in Norway. Histories and fairytales of trolls are passed on by a rich storytelling tradition, some people even believe they exist. As an homage, Lotte Slotterøy has created her own troll through knitting. The troll costume is like an empty shell that comes to life when people put it on. The Knitting Troll will be carried out as a performance at typical tourist sites, where the tourists will be watched and studied from the troll’s perspective. Lost in the city, away from the woods and without a place in this time “The Knitting Troll” will walk to Fløyen on Saturday the 12th of April.

Nils Viga Hausken

Prekestol Souvenir - Pulpit Rock Souvenir

Souvenirs are often connected to places and manifest as different kinds of miniature representations of these places. Nils Vigas work is addressing the scale, time and experience aspects of the souvenir. In the south-western part of Norway, where Nils Viga is from, there is a well known site called ”Pulpit Rock” - a mountain 700 metres above the fjord that people from all over the world come to visit. It takes a couple of hours of hiking to get there. For Nils Vigas interactive piece, fitness is not required, though embroidery acquires another type of endurance. On the outline of this particular mountain the visitors are invited to embroider their opinions, personal memories and ideas of what a souvenir is or could be.