The criticism of war, oppression, injustice, and human rights violations was an important set of themes for many artists in the 1960s and 70s. In Hvem eier morgendagen, political art from this period is primarily being featured with works taken from both the Tangen Collection and Kunstsilo’s own collection.
“This is an era in history that we grew up in as students in Bergen, so it’s nice to see these artists in the spotlight again. The political aspect of it is extremely interesting,” says Ole Johan Storaker, who was one of about 120 people in attendance at the opening at Meta Hansens hus in Lillesand.
In particular, he remembers Per Kleiva and Willibald Storn from that period. Both are represented in the exhibition.
“It was a very political time, in which art played a huge role, as it also did for us who were students,” says Storaker.
Aud Karin Raa thinks that Kunstsilo taking these works of art out on tour to, among other places, Lillesand is something positive.
“This is absolutely great. I’m from Bergen and I’m really looking forward to taking people to Kunstsilo when they come visit me,” she says.
At the end of the 1960s, the previously mentioned Willibald Storn was one of the founders of the artist group GRAS, which was an Oslo-based artist collective that is considered to be the most influential artist community from that era.
“They worked politically and used art as a weapon. The 1970s was a special time that had major political battles that everyone in society felt were important to fight,” says Kunstsilo curator Hanne Cecilie Gulstad.
“Many of the issues they fought for are causes that have prevailed to a large extent, such as gender equality and the rights of the Sami people. The artists got involved and paved the way ahead with their art and engagement in the causes of the day. And you can inevitably draw lines between that era to ourselves and to the situation the world’s in right now,” she says.
Can artists today have as much influence as these ones had?
“It was a different time, and they were more like activists. They put up posters illegally in public places on late night outings and they shared a pool of money so that if anyone was fined, they then paid it out of these common funds. Artists aren’t like that today. Maybe they can best be compared to graffiti artists, but their political involvement isn’t manifested in the same way. In any case, the artists of the 1960s have continued the fight through their artwork. Victor Lind is 85 and he’s made some new art that’s critical of the times we live in. And Willibald Storn created a work last year in which he dealt with the George Floyd incident. So, they’ve never stopped being involved. It continues on into their art and the institutions, but minus the activism that they practised in the 1970s,” says Gulstad.
Gulstad singles out Andreas Lian from Kristiansand as an artist who currently explores similar themes. Andreas works with graphics and sculpture, and he is represented in the exhibition with a portrait he made of wood.
“This portrait is of a person I met while I was working in psychiatry in Kristiansand. I met a lot of different people in various situations, and I felt a lot of compassion for them. These people weren’t dealt the best hand in life. Afterwards, I’ve had the desire to shine a light on those people who don’t get one put on them. Often, they are called the losers in our society and are the people who don’t quite manage to make it. I’ve been in a similar situation myself and I think a lot of other people have been there, too,” says Lian, who is honoured to be a part of the exhibition.
“Being here triggers a lot of emotions in me. Many of the artists represented here have been an inspiration to me,” he says.
Hvem eier morgendagen is also going to be shown to close to 3,000 students through the Den kulturelle skolesekken (The Cultural Schoolbag) school program in the coming months.
In addition to Storn, Kleiva, Lind and Lian, the following artists are also represented in the exhibition: Anders Kjær, Anna-Eva Bergman, Arne Malmedal, Bjørn Melbye Gulliksen, Chrix Dahl, Dea Trier Mørch, Egil Kjell Røed, Eva Marie Lange, Guttorm Guttormsgaard, Hanne Borchgrevink, John Andreas Savio, Kjartan Slettemark, Kjell Arne Nupen, Ludvig Eikaas, Marianne Heske, Morten Krohg and Sidsel Westbø.
The selection of works in the exhibition is adapted to each location.