The declared aim of the Carnegie Art Award Exhibition is to promote and support contemporary Nordic art and artists. But are there any features that the exhibited works share? Is there some characteristic or are there characteristics common to contemporary Nordic art? We asked the artists in the exhibition about their views on the matter. More information about the exhibition and the artists can be found in the comprehensive exhibition catalogue and on the Kiasma website.
Anna Tuori (Finland): "I think there is, but it's difficult to say what it is. Maybe a certain kind of straightforwardness. The weight of tradition does not hinder art in the Nordic countries to the same degree that it does in many of the Meccas of older art. On the other hand, there is not as clearly branded an arts identity as, for example, the East German retro boom that followed after Abstract Expressionism in Germany or the intellectual cool still prevalent in the arts in England.
Else Marie Hagen (Norway): "Even though it is possible to look for and find elements that might be typical of contemporary Nordic art, such as the closeness of people with nature or the worry over one's own culture arising in sparsely populated areas, there are other factors affecting the decision over which elements will be displayed.
Artists and art movements that come to the fore in any given era are largely dependent on the kind of atmosphere that prevails among the most influential members and institutions in the field of arts. This means that the question of the typical features of contemporary Nordic art might, for example, depend on whether Nordic countries are perceived as the backwater of the international scene or part of it.
Personally, I don't find it important to identify with any particularly Nordic identity or fit in with any particular international trend. Even if I was in possession of some comprehensive view that would allow me to say something about the prevalent features of Nordic art, I assume it would still be complex in nature. Complexity is an advantage because it allows artists to participate in different contexts and forge new relationships."
Fie Norsker (Denmark): "If I had to choose just one common element it would probably be interest in art outside the Nordic countries.
Karin Wikström (Sweden): "I don't know really. In many ways it's difficult to see what would be particularly Nordic nowadays in a world where people are trying hard to be global. In some sense, the idea of a certain field of contemporary Nordic art is somewhat anachronistic. On the other hand, we still are, of course, part of a Nordic context. Many of us artists live and work here and it is bound to have some effect on the art. But what those elements are, I really can't say for sure."
Nathalie Djurberg (Sweden): "Yes, I believe there is. I think it is impossible to overlook the fact that we share a similar cultural background. I don't mean to say that the art looks the same but rather that we approach issues and problems in similar ways."
Silja Rantanen (Finland): "Contemporary Nordic art is art made by Nordic artists. They are connected by their background: Nordic countries are sparsely populated, they are representative democracies, which work in such a self-evident manner that the citizens have stopped appreciating politics, and they all have a high standard of living. Almost everyone can read. The countries have historical and geopolitical differences but these have a negligible impact on contemporary art. All of this has, of course, formed the artists who have been raised in this culture. A caring atmosphere tends to encourage individuals to believe in their rights but I don't see any signs of it in the art itself. Sweeping interpretative generalisations are dangerous. Even in art, they often lead to abuse. The viewer is no longer capable of looking at individual works but begins by adapting ready-made interpretative models."
Thordis Aðalsteinsdóttir (Iceland): "Not that I know of."
Thór Vigfússon (Iceland): "Probably."
Tor-Magnus Lundeby (Norway): "I would guess the general Nordic temper affects the art too in the way the story is told or presented. One doesn't eventually need to speak out loud, if one is listening to each other. I mean maybe it depends on whether Nordic art is presented or made site specific in for example Southern Europe or up North."
Jens Fänge (Sweden): "No."