Beginning roughly around 2012/13, renewed energy has poured into a wide range of art spaces in and around Stavanger. An influx of new curatorial leadership – including Geir Haraldseth at Rogaland Kunstsenter, Hanne Mugaas at Kunsthall Stavanger and Hanne Beate Ueland at Stavanger Kunstmuseum – has in many ways served as the vanguard of this change. Inhabiting studio buildings such as Erfjordgt. 8, Paradis, and Tou Scene, artists have played a crucial role in developing independent spaces. Prosjektrom Normanns, nestled inside the aforementioned E8 studio collective, developed in 2010 as a platform for the production and presentation of works in progress. Studio 17, located directly below the Kunstsenter, opened its doors in 2013 and ambitiously aims to show two exhibitions per month on average – a specific curatorial strategy that allows for spontaneity and immediacy in the exhibition-making process.
A number of unique residencies and municipal stipends have helped international dialogue, and the Art School in Rogaland connects visiting practitioners with local students. Additionally, Contemporary Art Stavanger has developed into an online platform for the dissemination of information and critical discourse on the visual arts in relation to the Stavanger Region.
On February 1, curator and writer Tirdad Zolghadr traveled to Stavanger to speak at Rogaland Kunstsenter under the auspices of the Norwegian Association of Curators. On this occasion, Kunstkritikk invited representatives of the art community to gather for a group photo in order to try to represent at least a fraction of the burgeoning scene. The focus of the lecture, ‘an exit from contemporary art,’ was a choice topic given the recent upsurge of arts in the city. However, Zolghadr’s lecture was not suggesting that we throw up our hands and leave the art world, but rather that art and its constituency might step outside of the current trend of indeterminacy and be active agents in society.
Heather Jones is a curator and organizer based in Stavanger.