Norway’s National Museum Puts Performance Art in the Spotlight

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Thanks to a generous donation, a 10-year commitment to performance art has been unveiled by the National Museum in Oslo. Here’s what you need to know.

What do you think about performance art? Love it, hate it, or just plain confused by it? Well, you’re in luck, because Norway’s National Museum will showcase the weird and the wonderful over a ten-year period.

Exterior of National Museum in Oslo, Norway.
The new National Museum opened in Oslo in 2022.

Set to begin in June 2025, the Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design has announced a brand new series of exhibitions dedicated entirely to performance art.

This isn’t your typical stroll through a gallery – it’s an immersive experience that’s bound to get you thinking, feeling, and maybe even questioning everything you thought you knew about art.

Museum director Ingrid Røynesdal is pretty excited about it: “We wish to present a variety of proposals of what performance art can be, and to provide context for and contributions to the central position performance art has in contemporary art today.”

What is Performance Art, Exactly?

Performance art is all about the moment, the movement, and the message. It’s raw, unpredictable, and often leaves a lasting impression.

And the National Museum is bringing some of the best local and international performance artists to Oslo to showcase their talents.

Expect to see a wide range of performances, from the avant-garde to the downright bizarre. These artists use their bodies, voices, and sometimes even the audience to create art that’s living, breathing, and constantly changing.

Reindeer skull exhibit at the National Museum in Oslo, Norway
Norway’s National Museum has not shyed away from controversial topics.

Whether it’s a thought-provoking solo piece or a large-scale group performance, there’s something for everyone.

A 10-Year Committment

The National Museum has announced a partnership with prominent collector Lise M. Stolt-Nielsen and her children to present a dynamic decade-long performance programme, titled ‘What is performance?’

Stolt-Nielsen is a collector, a trustee at MoMA PS1 and was part of the Commissioning Council for the 2023 Performa Biennial.

Through this initiative, the Stolt-Nielsen family hope to make a significant contribution to the Norwegian art scene and the promotion of Norwegian and international performance art. It should make a welcome addition to the art scene in Oslo.

Lise M. Stolt-Nielsen says performance art has a special place in her heart, and that she’s delighted to collaborate with the museum: “I hope that the programme can foster interest and enthusiasm for the artform in all its different shapes.”

Local and International Performance Artists

The first edition will run in June 2025, with new work commissioned from leading local and international performance artists each year.

Alongside this will be a lively discursive programme aimed at creating a more inclusive dialogue about what performance is today while tracing the rich global genealogy of the genre.

Artwork commissions will be announced in due course and will be selected by an advisory committee.

That committee includes Stina Högkvist (Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the National Museum), Geir Haraldseth (Curator at the National Museum), and Klaus Biesenbach (Director of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin).

So, if you’re curious about performance art or just looking for something different to do, start planning your trips to the National Museum. The coming decade will offer an opportunity to see art in action and maybe even find a new appreciation for this fascinating medium.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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