The Young Lions
Norwegian Camera-based Art 1977-2017
The present exhibition celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Fotogalleriet, the Oslo-based gallery that has been at the forefront of establishing photography as an artistic medium in Norway.
The exhibition consists of two parts, of which the first part presents a historical review of pictures, interviews, archival documents and texts. This part of the exhibition will put conventional truths to the test and also examine whether there are other aspects of this history that have yet to receive the attention they deserve.
Fotogalleriet’s activities and surrounding community feature prominently in this history, but the exhibition also addresses other current issues related to the establishment and institutionalization of photography as a form an artistic expression in Norway.
The exhibition’s second part presents nine young artists who are currently active in the Norwegian art scene:
• Andrew Amorim
• Bjarne Bare
• Thora Dolven Balke
• Espen Gleditsch
• Jason Havneraas
• Kamilla Langeland
• Kaja Leijon
• Magne Lyngvær
• Linn Pedersen
These artists have been selected with an eye towards reflecting the many and highly diverse approaches to photography as an artistic medium. Highlights from previous exhibitions will be on display alongside entirely new works.
The nine artists have been selected in tandem by Fotogalleriet and Kristian Skylstad.
Fotogalleriet was founded by Dag Alveng (1953–) and the late Tom Sandberg (1953–2014). As students in England, the pair lived in a society where photography as a form of artistic expression was far more prevalent than in Norway. What motivated them to found Fotogalleriet was the desire to establish an exhibition venue for Norwegian and international photography in Oslo. Backing up their idealism with long, unpaid hours of voluntary work, the duo managed to found a gallery that, save for a few occasions, has remained open for forty years. The gallery, initially located at Oscarsgate 50a in the Frogner neighbourhood of Oslo, first opened its doors to the public on 5 September 1977 with an inaugural exhibition featuring Raymond Moor and Paul Hill.
Since then, the understanding of photography as an art form has changed markedly, both within the established art institutions and among the general public. During the 1970s, the only established art institution to actively include photography in its exhibition programme was the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Bærum. The situation was difficult for artists working with photography, as exhibition venues were scarce and grant schemes were lacking.
At the same time, the 1970s represent in many ways a sea change. Forbundet Frie Fotografer, an independent society of photographers founded in 1974, had already begun negotiations to ensure grants and rights for artists working with photography. When Fotogalleriet opened, the gallery soon became an important rallying ground and focal point for the efforts to promote photography as an art form. It served as a meeting place that offered more than just exhibitions and display space, organizing for example lectures and workshops with both national and international professionals. In 1979 the gallery became a foundation, and in 1983 it was included in a trial scheme for funding from the Ministry of Culture. The idealism and countless hours of hard work had paid off, and from 1986 the foundation became an item in the national budget. From initially being regarded as an interloper in the world of Norwegian art, photography became generally accepted during the 1990s, on a par with long-established media such as painting, printmaking and sculpture.
Since Preus Museum has a particular responsibility for studying and presenting the history of Norwegian photography, it is interesting to delve into this period in detail. The museum uses interviews and surveys to collect various versions of this history from different parts of the field.
The exhibition will cast a critical eye on conventional truths and also examine whether there are other aspects of this history that have not received their due exposure. Fotogalleriet’s activities and surrounding cast of characters feature prominently in this history, but the exhibition also addresses other current issues related to the establishment and institutionalization of photography as an art form in Norway. Visitors will thereby be shown a multifaceted exhibition with an open, democratic approach to presenting the gallery’s history.
The exhibition is supported by the Fritt Ord Foundation and Arts Council Norway.