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Atopia is an artist initiative dedicated to the development of experimental film and video art in Norway.

Retrospective: Film and Video Art Norway







Retrospective: Film & Video Art in Norway is a long-term research project of ATOPIA intended to study the historical development of artists’ film and video works in Norway. Initiated in 2007 the first part of this project explored the period of 1960 to 1990 and resulted in a large-scale exhibition at The Stenersen Museum in March 2011. The second part of this project concentrates on the 1990’s. Several external curators are invited to collaborate on producing series of exhibitions at ATOPIA Gallery throughout the year. Exploring different aspects of the period each exhibition will present a number of works collected by Atopia. The exhibition series will also highlight different curatorial approaches that focus on the period of the 90’s.





An exhibition opening and book launch:

Maleri med tid
Painting with Time
by Per Kvist

with works by:
Kjell Bjørgeengen
A K Dolven
HC Gilje
Jeremy Welsh

Maleri med tid – Om modernisme, filmisk avantgarde og videokunst
(Painting with Time - On Modernism, Avant-Garde Film and Video Art)

Thursday, 6 Feb 2014 at 19:00
( 6 - 21 Feb. 2014)
Gallery hours: 12:00 - 16:00 (Tue - Fri)



                                             Maleri med tid


Painting With Time is part of Atopia’s “Retrospective: Film & Video Art, Norway” project. This is a project for in-depth examination of the historical development of artists’ film and video works in Norway. Initiated in 2007 it is a long-term research project of Atopia that aims to create new historical visions and approaches surrounding artists’ film and video works.

Through Painting With Time Per Kvist writes a new version of the history of Visual Arts and the Moving Image. Kvist approaches the works of Kjell Bjørgeengen, A K Dolven, HC Gilje and Jeremy Welsh in the light of Modernism, Avant-garde Film and early Video Art. The book is anchored in an idea about historical repetition, at the same time exposing how we encounter the past with the influences of our own time. An important proposition is related to the idea of musicality of the image and modernism as an impure visual phenomenon. Here we can even talk about a “musicalisation of visual art” in the 20th and 21st Century. In the understanding of media, it becomes evident that these can be viewed in the light of ideas about the specific and mixed media, but also the shifting state of media. Media are alive and in a state of constant change. They seem to endure, preserve and absorb the past into the present time. They act creatively and give space for new specificities in a movement towards the future.


Per Kvist (born 1965) is an art historian and writer focusing on the visual arts and moving images. Kvist is a former Dean at Bergen Academy of Art and Design and leader of Tromsø Kunstforening. For many years he was a member of Arts Council Norway, where he chaired the Board for arts and crafts. Kvist is currently Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Agder and Chairman of Kristiansand Kunsthall.








ATOPIA invited Marianne Zamecznik to curate a new exhibition about the artists film and video works in Norway 1990's.



Rolf Aamot
Marte Aas
Inger Lise Hansen
Farhad Kalantary
Tone Myskja

23.05 – 22.06.2013




With this exhibition we add a new chapter to Atopia’s investigation of the history of film & video art in Norway.
The exhibition series would also highlight various curatorial approaches focusing on this period.

ATOPIA invited Marianne Zamecznik to curate the second exhibition in the series of The 90’s.

"FORM AGAINST BACKGROUND presents five works; three films and two videos, brought together through their uses of analogy. Here forms are set into play against a background; focusing on abstraction instead of narrative; where repetition is used to visualize real or illusory transformations.
Form is here understood as having a theatrical quality — a kind of stage presence. Whether pictorial, sculptural, or architectural, it is an
integral part of ambient space. Form in these works is seen as something imitating the efficacy of a gesture; like poetry, it's possessed by the knowledge of the human body and how, in innumerable ways and moods, it creates meaning. Moving image visualizes the constant and the gestalt, against which the appearance of the form from different points of view is constantly being compared.

The psychological as theme gives form to the background of the exhibition; Metaphors for psychological states and existential dimensions such as longing for transformation, the desire to do something impossible - like flying or being able to see time in fast-forward motion. The pulsating, repetitive movements of natural forms evoke the feeling of a fundamental state of being, where one is connected with all of nature and everything on this planet, pulsating to the rhythm of a heart. (Marianne Zamecznik)







ATOPIA invited Natalie Hope O’Donnell to curate the first exhibition in the series of The 90’s.



Propeller: the 1990s


17 Jan - 17 Feb 2013


Open: 12:00 - 16:00 (Th, Fri, Sat, Sun)







Book & Hedén - Cathrine Constanse Gjelsnes – Inger Lise Hansen  

Mattias Härenstam - JetZet Film - Ingebjørg Torgersen


This exhibition takes as its point of departure the idea that art and social-political developments are intertwined in a mutually reinforcing ebb and flow of inspiration, reaction and reflection. It draws on the Latin term prōpellere meaning “to drive forth or onward, to push or urge forward”.(i) The propeller churns up the tranquil surface of society, and the maelstrom created in its wake has ripple effects in the deep waters where artistic reflexivity resides. What emerges from the depths may be complex and ambiguous, but its potential interpretations can create new insights into how we might view the world.


The Propeller exhibition at Atopia features moving image works made by artists based in Norway in the 1990s. This decade saw a number of changes take place in Norwegian society, giving rise to issues that can be traced in the works on display. The viewer contributes – as Duchamp argued – to the creative act the work, and each work in the exhibition can resonate with a number of different aspects of the 1990s.(ii) Each person will have their own recollection of the period: it is near enough for the memories to still be fresh, though not sufficiently removed to create a sense of nostalgia for a time past.


Two events in the 1990s put the Norway’s sense of self under the lens: the 1993 EU referendum and the 1994 Winter Olympics. Both presented opportunities to show what the nation stood for, its history, idiosyncrasies and future paths, and contributed to the stereotype of a land of farmers, fishermen, stunning landscapes and healthy living. This glossy portrait did not include rising tensions between left and right-wing extremists, profound concerns about the continued fall-out of Chernobyl and greater levels of pollution, the fact that Norway had the highest number of drug overdoses in Europe, or the growing reliance on oil and gas export, leaving other industries decimated.


The propeller thematic is also reflected in the design for the exhibition, in which the moving image works are displayed on monitors, mounted in a circle, with partitions between them, intended to draw visitors in to the intimate space of each work, before propelling them onto the next each screen. The different pace, nature and feel of each work together create a visual and sonic cacophony, indicative of the complexity of social development - from the aspects that are heralded as uniquely positive to the darker sides of ‘progress’. It is hoped that the texture of the exhibition combined with viewers’ own recollections of the era, can create fleeting instances of polyphony, bringing different moments of the recent past into focus.


Ingrid Book & Carina Hedén’s What is spade culture actually all about? (2000) 66 min. Book & Hedén’s depiction of idyllic, bucolic setting in Sweden (Hedén’s native country) from which the artists gathered wild plum trees for an allotment garden in Malmö, which was later destroyed to enable housing development. Patience and a meticulous approach to farming dominates the pace of the film: the camera dwells on branches, leaves, and the wind rustling through the fruit trees, and resists the temptation to speed up to comply with the conventions of the documentary film genre. The work instead takes on a performative dimension, enacting the slowness and detailed approach of the process it depicts. 


Inger Lise Hansen’s Static (1995), 04:26, was originally shot on 16mm film. Her work uses stop-motion technique to animate different objects found at varying locations in the US, UK and Norway. The soundtrack is made up of ambient noise and static electricity, which compounds the emotive qualities of the time-lapse photography to create different vignettes of decay and destruction. The found objects or rubbish at various locations show natural landscapes battling the gradual build-up of debris, while the sweeping views of cityscapes suggests that the ever-expanding urban realm will gradually swallow up what is left of a relatively untouched nature.


Cathrine Constanse Gjelsnes’s video Bærtur (1998), 04:45 min (no sound) depicts a tranquil forest scene, in which some people are picking berries. The actors portray drug addicts, but their condition is not immediately apparent, not until one notices their staggering gait, which is woefully unsuited to the uneven terrain, and jars with the pleasant scenery. Originally conceived to be shown at the Jazid club in Oslo, the berry-swapping scene highlights the absurdity of the drug addict’s existence – the constant foraging for the next hit –underlining the ultimate pointlessness of the transaction.  


Ingebjørg Torgersen’s Tur-Retur Hit (1989) 5:42 (originally shot on 16mm film) shows a number of different people waiting for the train at Oslo’s Central Station. The soundtrack enhances certain aspects of the video’s ambient noise and the composition of scenes creates concentrated vignettes of intimate human behaviour. In a culture not renowned for it chattiness, Torgersen’s film presents an accurate portrait of everyday life. The individuals depicted seem atomised, removed from the world around them: nobody converses, except for with one official when the inevitable becomes clear. Even when nobody is going anywhere, silence prevails. And humour is subtly created in the absurdity of the situation.


JetZet Film (Vidar V. Olsen, Dag Stiberg and Sverre Strandberg) with their video Herr Blau (1999) 34:09 min. (originally shot on Super 8) playfully examines the role of the artist and the 1990s leitmotif of ‘individuality’. Oil is a recurring element: from its plastic properties that can be used in art-making to its detritus, and the artists are gradually poisoned by the blue petroleum food they consume. The video’s German narrator makes pretentious statements in his pieces to camera; despite being a self-proclaimed conceptual artist, the meta-work he is making alludes to the role of the curator, as it emerged in full in the 1990s.


Mattias Härenstam’s Hverdagliv i det post-utopiske velferdssamfunnet (Regnet) (1998) 7:54 min. depicts a man in bed in a sparse room, lit by a single lamp. The sound of pounding rain is the only soundtrack.  He passes the time by sleeping, masturbating, smoking and is visited by various nightmarish visions. He does not work, but lies in an apoplectic state of inaction, subject only to the bizarre machinations of his own subconscious. Even these are not enough to stir him into action, and the monster that visits him merely pads around the room before disappearing. Malaise and intransigence permeate the scene: everyday life is just one party after another, followed by the dull ache of recovery – after Utopia it always rains.


Natalie Hope O’Donnell

January 2013



* Still from Static, 16mm, Color, sound, 4:30 min, Inger Lise Hansen, 1995

(i) Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, June 2007. Online version.

(ii) Marcel Duchamp, 'The Creative Act', essay written for a lecture at The American Federation of Arts Convention in Houston, April 1957. Published originally in Art News 56, no 4 (summer 1957), pp. 28-29.



                      3 Logos








This hard cover book is the first publication of Atopia concerning the history of film and video art in Norway. It covers the period 1960 to 1990 and it offers an in-depth analysis of the art works by many national and international writers. This is a fully bilingual book in Norwegian and English with images taken from the works along with biographical information about 35 artists who have shaped the history of film and video art in Norway.


The book features textual contributions by the following:


Farhad Kalantary

Gunnar Iversen

Interview with Jorunn Veiteberg

Irene Ikdal

Lorella Scacco

Nicky Hamlyn

Ole Fjereide

Stephanie von Spreter

Stephen Partridge


It also contains a DVD with Video Portraits of 9 artists who have had a significant role in the history of film and video art. The videos provide an intimate and personal view of the artists, and they are produced in collaboration with 9 video artists of the following generation.


Number of pages: 352


Edited by Linn Lervik & Farhad Kalantary

Produced by Atopia Stiftelse

Price: NOK 350,-


                         For further inquiries and for placing orders please send an email to us at: book(AT)


-This book is also available at Stenersen Museum and Topedo book shop.





Retrospective Exhibition, Part 1

30 Years of Motion




“Retrospective: Film & Video Art Norway” is a long-term research project of Atopia involving exhibitions, screenings, seminars and publications.


This project aims at providing an in-depth examination of the historical development of artists’ film and video works in Norway, and to explore the idea of introducing new historical references for this practice.


Local references for film & video art in Norway are almost non-existent. We borrow such references from other parts of the world where the history of this practice is documented and claimed. Nevertheless there are many renowned artists in Norway, who have been experimenting with the apparatus of filmmaking from the early 1960s, and with video from the 1970’s.


A national archive of artists' film and video works is yet to exist in Norway. In our efforts to locate the film and video works we have tried to make a far-reaching call to artists and art institutions across the country that can help us locate the individual works. We have been receiving information along with the works since the mid 2008, and to this day we continue to receive additional works from individual artists. We are also working towards tracking down and studying the existing collections. Our goal is to produce an all-embracing and reliable compilation of film and video works as the research ground for the project.


This project is organized in three sequential parts, with each part resulting in a series of exhibitions and a catalogue. The first part of this trilogy with the works produced during the thirty years of 1960-90 will go on exhibition at Stenersen Museum in March 2011.


We believe this project will contribute to the enrichment and diversification of the history of fine art in Norway. This project wishes to explore the idea of introducing new artistic references for experimental film and video art within the geographical frames of Norway. An engagement with the discourse of production of histories, construction of identities and the state of collective memory are among the underlying concerns of this research project.


We have invited several other researchers and writers to work with us on this project. For textual contributions we are inviting a number of national as well as international voices within the contemporary art history and criticism.


This project includes publication of three books of articles analyzing the works and discussing their historical significance both in a global as well as in a national context. These books will include a DVD containing short clips from the actual works in the exhibition and several artist portraits.

In the production of these video portraits for the first part of the project (1960-90) we have invited several younger film and video artists to collaborate with us. These commissioned works will be manifestations of cross-generational dialogues between artists and they will be a part of the main exhibition as well.


Retrospective. Part 2

With the first part of the Retrospective project well on the way, we have begun the initial phase of collecting the works for the second part. The second part will focus on the period between 1990 and 2000.


At this point we invite artists to send us their works for preview in the form of DVD or VHS tape. We accept single screen works as well as documentation of installation works. The exhibition venues and dates of the second part will be announced later in 2011. We should instruct all interested artists to refrain from sending us any original material.


- The “Rretrospective Exhibition” was initiated as an Atopia project by Farhad Kalantary in 2007, who acts as the project leader.

- Project assistants include: Synne Holst-Pedersen, Linn Lervik and Tone A. Gellein

- Project advisors include Toril Simonsen, Kjell Billing and Nina Schjønsby.

- Atopia Stiftelse is the producer and publisher of this project.

- Sponsors include: Norsk kulturråd, Fritt Ord, Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond Prosjektstøtte, and Bildende Kunstneres Hjelpefond.


Click here for a discussion about the project in




                                                     Retrospective part 2


Atopia leter etter tidlige kunstfilm- og videoarbeider i Norge

Atopia forbereder nå en større retrospektiv utstilling av Norsk eksperimentell film og videokunst. Utstillingen vil bli tredelt og kronologisk, og i første omgang vil vi fokusere på tidlige arbeider som er datert frem til 1990.

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© Atopia Stiftelse, 2014