Gesamtkunstwerk 1989

I offered 20 artists to work together cross different artistic media
on this project under patronage by UNESCO's HQ in Paris
& sponsored by companies as Lufthansa and Aker.
Click the thumbs for larger pictures.

The Hatshepsut Project - a 1989 Gesamtkunstwerk


Gesamtkunstwerk is an all-embracing art form, but for me, it became part of a compromise.

At 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 decided 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. One can't understand history without understanding the religion; religion can't be grasped without knowing the different professions in the nation, 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 a profession. I ended up with a bit more than twenty artists, 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 two and a half million NOK in today's money (about 300'000 USD) in sponsorship deals, and patronage by UNESCO's headquarter in Paris. UNESCO wrote in their statement that 'the Hatshepsut Project is holistic art making in a time of fragmented approaches'.

Yes, after two years of hard work and too many meetings, the money finally came on the table. With sponsorship from Kassettavgiftsfondet (today part of the Arts Council Norway), companies as Aker and Lufthansa; we set off for Egypt's old capital Waset, now Luxor where Hatshepsut's great terrace temple is 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 stupid as well to believe that we could get twenty contemporary artists to co-operate. Well, the fact is that we did it, and the achievement 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 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 typical 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 confirmed that contemporary artists could cooperate as long as they don't have to compromise their artistic expression.

On a personal level, this project was as said, a compromise - and I had left with the question of how to distribute art?

The standard way of distribution was dead for me. A good friend described the problem correctly 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. For me, the DigiSeed Art concept is the tool to distribute my artworks today, a new way of art distribution outside the art industry!


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
My ART Today

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