In the autumn of 12 years ago, I lived in Berlin. It was in Lofoten, which is part of Nordland county, that I had started as a visual artist a couple of years earlier. Berlin, with its 11-mile-long wall, was an isolated and somewhat peripheral place. Nevertheless, I experienced that art formed a large part of the existential dimension of everyday life. Politicians bet on art and culture. The isolation contributed to the fact that art provided important sustenance to life in Berlin.
It was from this point of view that the idea of Skulpturlandskap Nordland was conceived. County cultural manager Aaslaug Vaa wanted me to attend a seminar on the island of Vega where the future of art in Nordland was to be discussed. It was here that the idea was put forward, and thanks to the courageous County Mayor Sigbjørn Eriksen, the idea was immediately taken seriously.
Nordland county is a huge "house" with a land area of 40,000 km2. This house has 45 different rooms or communes. The economic base is fishing in the coastal municipalities, agriculture inland, while industry and service industries dominate elsewhere. The population varies greatly, from 484 to 38,000.
These unique spaces, just north and south of the Arctic Circle, consist of extreme light and weather conditions, changing landscapes, and all have their own distinctive history. The idea was that each municipality should have its own permanent sculpture. The collection was to be based on international contemporary art, and the selection was made by a group of international curators. It was the responsibility of the citizens in the individual municipalities to say yes or no to participating. Thus the discussion about art was underway.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who participated in the conversations and debates along the way. Maaretta Jaukkuri was the first to have the map of Nordland laid out on her desk in Helsinki, December 1988. Her immediate and positive reaction, important support and irreplaceable knowledge have since followed the project.
We have put many autumn and winter storms behind us during these 12 years, and the project has needed this time and these storms. It has been important to us that this is also expressed in the book. That is why we have included a wide selection of texts and poems from local people, from artists, visitors and art theorists.
Today, there are 33 sculptures in Nordland that are owned by the residents of the 33 municipalities.
The artists have worked under extraordinary circumstances. Administration and networks have been based on the population of Nordland and the resources on site. It is the sum of these efforts that has created Skulpturlandskap Nordland. Both the artists who came here and the people of Nordland have given a lot.
Many have moved over a threshold. And a new generation is growing up with an eye for their sculpture and with international contemporary art as a natural part of life.
Anne Katrine Dolven
Text previously published in the book Skulpturlandskap Nordland, Press forlag 2001