Speach on the Opening of the Momentum Biennial
Honorable guests, brothers and sisters
I hope you don’t find it presumptuous or even pretentious of me to call you my brothers and sisters. The fact is I mean it. I am of course talking metaphorically, but I mean it with all my heart [hand on heart]. We are here gathered to celebrate a fantastic exhibition of works by the great artists of the Nordic countries. Here we have on display the Art of today for the collections of tomorrow. The wonderful city of Moss has become a talent factory and workshop of Art, where trends are set and new stars are made. A blooming city that makes many bigger European cities fade in comparison and blush with shame! [Angry.] But I am not here to talk about “other cities”. I am here to talk about this good city and what is happening here at this very moment. I just think it’s great to stand on the scrupulous Fatherland of Knut Hamsun and Henrik Ibsen!
I took the liberty of talking on behalf of the artists involved in this beautiful exhibition. I hope I don’t offend anyone by my independent mindset.
I think Independence is the keyword when talking about the Nordic nations. The Nordic nations have always had a soft spot for independence, and most have been independent for quite a while now. Regardless of the nations’ independence and lack there of, the Nordic artists have since the commencement of time, been very independent in spirit! That is what makes an exhibition like Momentum, so interesting and so fascinating.
It doesn’t affect the great Nordic disposition of the exhibition that not all of the artists are Nordic. One artist is from Spain, one from Germany and we even have a Russian! Here we are all brothers and sisters [angry]!
Although I must admit that is saddens me that our smallest sister is not present. I am of course talking about Faroe Island. She might be a little culturally backwards but she is still our sister. My countrymen and I sometimes say: “Blood runs thicker than water,” and I think this exhibition acknowledges that without taking it to extremes, but maybe a little more extreme would have been good? Many would find it strange that we have a Russian and a Spaniard in the show but not one of our own, but I don’t agree with that, because I think our curators are only biased when it comes to visual matters, but not nationalities. Faroe Island has proven to be my country’s best friend, perhaps our only real friend, our only real brother, our only real sister. As you know the Scandinavian countries have done nothing, and I mean nothing to save my people in the most difficult of times. The Nordic countries have taken sides with the British Empire in what can only be described as a war.
Snorri Sturluson says in Havamal:
A farm of your own is better, even if small, everyone is someone at home;
A man’s heart bleeds when he has to beg for every single meal.
Keep that in mind!
But we, the Icelandic artists here today, are grateful that our Nordic brothers and sisters, the Norwegians haven’t completely abandoned us when it comes to cultural matters.
It humbles me to be participating in this great adventure. I am moved by the unconditional love in the air. It is almost as one can touch it [Touch the air]. Now when my beautiful country is facing its horrible problems and losing its independence, this unconditional love is very important and it has truly touched my heart. As a token of my gratitude I am going to donate one of my work, “the Hole”, to the beautiful people of Norway. And I think the other artists should do the same! You should do it too! [Point angrily towards the other artists.]
Dignity. Broken integrities. Help Touching. It’s a new experience for me. God bless.
It has always been important to the Nordic people to intermingle with one another and it has reached my attention how befriended the artists that here have joined their forces have been. It has been a sheer pleasure to witness the working methods that have been dominating this venue for the last couple of days. Of course there have been some dramas and rivalry, as expected, particularly between the Icelanders and the Danes, but that’s all behind us now. The exhibiting artists are quite diverse artistically as well as politically speaking, but have for this special occasion joined their forces with the same goal, and that is to create an unforgettable experience. [Sincere].
The Nordic countries have, in their own special way, given Western culture so much, for which we can never be thankful enough. Where would we be without Hamsun, Wigeland, Strindberg and Sibelius? Where would we be without Elíasson, Björk and Lars von Trier (so we don’t leave out the younger generations).
Where do the roots of this cultural ascendancy lie? There is no simple answer to that, but I would like to take some credit on behalf of my people, and put forward a theory that the writings of Snorri Sturluson have something to do with it. The golden heart of the north, namelich: the Sagas. Thank God, the Nordic people have in recent years started a spiritual voyage in search of their roots, and I think we see the wrapping up of that voyage here at Momentum.
We should not forget that we are not merely Nordic, but we are also citizens of the global village and we do have responsibilities towards the less fortunate. It is not least the unfortunate development of mankind that is the subject matter of many of the works. However, it would be ill-humored to boast the dreadfulness of contemporary tastelessness if we couldn’t also offer you a glimpse of hope. There is hope, my friends. There is hope.
I hope you forgive some of the radical artists for their black bile and myself for this long speech. [Laugh.] You would probably rather be chatting and drinking white wine, currying favors and gossiping [Angry.]… And finally forgive Knut Hamsun [Serious]. We should not forget that Hamsun cried on his deathbed to commemorate the memory of the victims of the Germans.
And speaking of Germans. I want to tell you a little story that – in a strange and provocative way – has to do with this exhibition. If you don’t like to be provoked I suggest you go somewhere else [Angry.]:
This story takes place in North Africa some time during World War II, during one of the many reversals of fortune, which are so sadly characteristic for the North African theatre of war. German troops on the offense stumbled across a cache of Coca-Cola left behind by defeatist allied troops. But the appreciated find came with an obstacle – and dehydrated throats stayed dry as a bone: The enemy had forgotten to leave some ice with it! And since every German soldier knew that a bottle of Coca-Cola had to be consumed eiskalt, the booties remained worthless unless somebody came up with a method of refrigeration under the merciless African sun.
General Erwin Rommel, sometimes nicknamed “the desert fox”, was an intelligent gentleman as well as a brilliant general and a sly tactician. And it was he who eventually provided an ingenious response to this letdown by the allies. He ordered his men to put the bottles in wet socks and tie them to the wings of their Messerschmitt 109 before takeoff. Once the fighters were airborne, evaporation and the lower temperature of higher altitudes cooled down the precious liquid. The subsequent scene upon the pilots’ return to base must have been unforgettable: The pilots hopped out of their planes, plucked ice-cold Coca-Colas from the wings, opened them and then let the brown juice run down their throats to celebrate, with their much adored General, the thirsty return from another successful mission.
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, let’s make a toast to success.
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