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Ekebergparken, Oslo

31st Oct 2013

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A very, very wicked art initiative to hit the deepest, darkest depths of Norway's parklands...

Oslo's latest revitalisation effort Ekebergparken, that opened in September 2013, is a 64-acre public park with a front row seat high above the city, overlooking the harbour entrance, Astrup Fearnley Museum and the opera house. Still remaining from the Stone, Bronze and Viking Ages (and later the Second World War), this historic 120-year-old 'folkpark' experienced decades of neglect. The condition has been recently remedied and soothed by Norwegian businessman and art collector Christian Ringnes, by way of C Ludens Ringnes Stiftelse, a nonprofit organisation.

Scattered along 3km of gravel pathways are 32 works of absolutely incredible art; think of it as an art-themed scavenger hunt, if you like. The works span the ages, from classic icons like Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol to contemporary and site-specfic installations by Jenny Holzer, Dan Graham, James Turrell and Tony Oursler. Over the coming years, Ekebergparken will see 80 become integrated into the park with a constant emphasis placed on maintaining the wild, forested grounds of one of Norway's most beautiful parks.

Sharing the grounds with joggers, hikers and dog walkers, visitors will begin their art walk at Ekebergrestauranten, a beautifully restored functionalist building originally designed by the architect Lars Becker. Housing several restaurants it's the perfect start to the day; awesome in the summer for stunning views of Oslofjord from the terrace. The food is pretty good too with contemporary Norwegian cuisine and a broad selection of wines to choose from. Adjacent from Ekebergrestauranten are two Swiss villas and an annex, all more traditional in feel that feature a visitor centre, small museum and the Karlsborg Spiseforretning café, as well as an activity centre for children. The art starts here where a stone's throw away are Dan Graham's 'Pavilion', Diane Maclean's 'Open Book' and James Turrell's 'Ganzfeld' and 'Skyspace'. The latter, 'Skyspace' is a stunning two-room installation created specifically for the site, located in an old underground water reservoir in the middle of Ekebergparken. For those willing to wander a bit further, artworks by Tony Oursler, Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois are worth the extra effort.

Ekebergparken itself has a greater history in art than some may think, having been identified as the backdrop scenery in Edvard Munch's 'The Scream', which perhaps inspired performance artist Marina Abramović in the creation of her own version of the iconic work. In the same familiar setting, she's employed 300 Oslo residents in the release of emotions through outcry. The results are currently being documented and will be released to the public as an art film and book.

Oslo's emergence as one of the world's most improving, inspiring and thriving cultural cities of the world definitely isn't 'new news'. We documented its improving ways in the Autumn'13 edition of Domus LifeIN WITH THE NEW provided further proof that the city's ten-year-long urban growth spurt shows no signs of slowing down, a development at least partially fuelled by the generosity of its culture-thirsty citizens. 

Oslo, we think you've just given us a very serious case of Wanderlust.


Ekebergparken, Kongsveien 21, N-0193 Oslo, Norway;