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.


My flag

”What flag would you want to represent you?” This question is posed by the Swedish artist group S-U-B who is inviting you to design your own Norwegian flag. S-U-B will be positioned at their sewing station at Østre Skostredet 5, to turn their suggestion into reality during the first week of the exhibition (April 11th,12th,13th,15th and 16th). By transforming the proposed flag drawings into “real flags”, S-U-B wants to give each proposal the dignity it deserves and create a representation of the people of Bergen that goes beyond nationality. Each flag will be the result of a collaboration, as S-U-B will be interpreting and modifying the drawing in order to translate it into textile.“My Flag” remains as an interactive workspace throughout the exhibition period were the visitors can sit down and make a drawing of their flag. Requests for flag proposals will be especially distributed to centres for youth, seniors and immigrants. The finished flags will be flown on a line over the street at Skostredet. As the project continues to travel trough the Nordic countries, new flags will be added.

Collecting socks

Benjamin Slotterøy has been collecting socks from the inhabitants of Lofoten to create an artwork that the community has contributed to, and therefore also is a part of. Knitted socks are something most people in Scandinavia can relate to, especially in Norway with its tradition and history of fishing. Knitted socks have been a part of every fisherman’s outfit, often made by the wives or female relatives of the fishermen. Benjamin is now urging the inhabitants of Bergen to submit their leftover socks to S12. Visitors can contribute to the design of the “sock-sculpture” by sowing their socks on to it. Together we hope to create a giant souvenir - a memory from all the people who contributed to the project.

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