Gesamtkunstwerk 1989

Made 20 artists work together cross different artistic media on this project under patronage by UNESCO's HQ in Paris & sponsored by companies as Lufthansa.
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The Hatshepsut Project - a 1989 Gesamtkunstwerk


The concept Gesamtkunstwerk are mostly considered as an all-embracing art form, but for me it was also a compromise.

During the start of the eighties I planned to become an egyptologist, but then the painting came back with full force and knocked me down. So towards the end of this decade, I decieded to combine egyptology and contemporary art in the form of a modern gesamtkunstwerk.

Egyptology is not the same as egyptian history because it's not possible to study just one part of the society of this ancient culture. History is not understood without understanding the religion, religion is not understood without knowing the different professions in the society, and so forth.

To cross the border of many different art forms was my way of widening contemporary art, but it was as said, also my compromise and a farewell to egyptology as an profession. I ended up with a bit more than twenty artistists, from a professor and some of his students at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, photography, film, textile arts, a composer and a writer, sculpture, painting, and graphic arts. The binding glue in this diversity was one mutual topic, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut who lived 3500 years ago on the banks of the river Nile.

So I ended up with the 'Hatshepsut Project', nearly one of a half million NOK (almost 185'000 USD) in sponsorship deals, and patronage by UNESCOs head quarter in Paris. UNESCO wrote in their statement that 'the Hatshepsut Project is holistic art making in a time of fragmenteded approaches'. After two years with heavy work, the money came on the table, and with sponsorship from Lufthansa as well, we set off for Egypts old capital Waset, now Luxor where Hatshepsuts great terrace temple are located.

It must have been a crazy idea even for Hatshepsut and her Senemut, to build this impressive architectural gem of a temple, and for me it was pretty crazy as well to actually believe that we could get twenty contemporary artists to co-opeate. Well fact is that we did it, and the achivement of each of the artists was on an astounding professional level. Yes, the planned opera didn't come longer than the synopsis - but it doesn't matter. One day someone else will take our baton through another art project. Still, the artists of the Hatshepsut project did the first leg of something like an ongoing relay art, a new form of Karl Friedrich Eusebius Trahndorff's Gesamtkunstwerk.

The exhibition was held during the summer 1989 on the then new Aker Brygge in Oslo. In retrospect I believe we should have found an exhibition space that was a bit more 'underground', commercial actors are never your best buddies. As normal for me I guess, I don't have anything left from the project, not even a poster or a catalogue, but happily NRK (the Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company) did a feature story about the project for their news, so the images above is photo from the television screen.

For me it first of all proved that it was possible to do a project everybody said was not possible to do, and secondly it proved that contemporary artists are able to cooperate as long as they don't have to compromise their own personal artistic expression.

On a personal level, this project were as said, a compromise - and I was left with the question of how to distribute art? The standard way was dead for me. A good friend described the problem perfect when she said "Galleries, that's just an advanced form of pimping" - and that's the reason I have refused to exhibit in galleries since this gesamtkunstwerk project. So I needed to find a new way outside of the galleries and the investment machinery. The DigiSeed Art concept are the tool to distribute my artworks again, a new way of art distribution!


Front cover on the Magazine Vannbæreren, Karlsøya, Norway 1974 and 1975
Jane's painting - from the first One Man Show, Oslo, Norway 1984
Hanne - from the second One Man Show, Oslo, Norway 1985
Gesamtkunstwerk, Oslo, Norway 1989

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