Project concept

Memories of the North is an exhibition of ongoing investigations into the theme of Nordic cultural identity, souvenirs and nation branding. The first venue of the exhibition tour was Galleri S12 in Bergen, Norway in April 2008.

How well do our existing national symbols, souvenirs and cultural icons, represent our diverse contemporary societies? What does it mean to travel and what is a souvenir? How can we craft alternatives to those currently offered by the travel and souvenir industries? The assembled artists are engaged in a long term investigation of these questions, that continues as the exhibition travels to new venues in the Nordic countries.

In February 2007 the Swedish art/craft/design-collective S-U-B invited four other artist groups from Denmark, Finland and Norway to a meeting in Stockholm, a seminar in Rovaniemi and a two week artist residency at Nordnorsk Kunstnersenter in Lofoten ("Souvenirs"), to provide a foundation for the participants and a starting point for research. Three individual artists have also been invited to join the project that currently hosts 16 artists.

The initial concept was to invite socially-engaged artists and artist collectives to use their diverse practices to explore the project themes of Nordic cultural identity, souvenirs, tourism and nation branding. Most of the artists have responded to this request by creating participatory projects that engage local communities in a search for ways to create ”truer” representations of people and places. These projects question, acknowledge and re-create symbols and stories by inviting the public to engage in different forms of aesthetic dialogue: workshops, participatory interventions, performances and an exhibition that displays the results of these activities. The project grows as the participants engage other artists and local communities along the way.

Nils Viga Hausken

Prekestol Souvenir - Pulpit Rock Souvenir

Souvenirs are often connected to places and manifest as different kinds of miniature representations of these places. Nils Vigas work is addressing the scale, time and experience aspects of the souvenir. In the south-western part of Norway, where Nils Viga is from, there is a well known site called ”Pulpit Rock” - a mountain 700 metres above the fjord that people from all over the world come to visit. It takes a couple of hours of hiking to get there. For Nils Vigas interactive piece, fitness is not required, though embroidery acquires another type of endurance. On the outline of this particular mountain the visitors are invited to embroider their opinions, personal memories and ideas of what a souvenir is or could be.

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