With this private donation from Christian Ringnes, through the C. Ludens Ringnes Foundation, Oslo secures what must be one of the finest sculpture parks in Scandinavia. The park has a total cost framework of NOK 300 million, and includes 30 notable works of art already in place for the opening.
One man´s idea
The idea of establishing a sculpture park in one of Oslo's public parks, albeit one which over the years had been neglected and poorly maintained and yet had one of the finest locations in the city, came in 2003. Three years later, Christian Ringnes submitted the idea as an official proposal to Oslo Municipal Authority, which owned the land. In 2009 a pilot project was established including, among other things, the setting up of an art advisory committee. Christian Ringnes had enthusiastically put forward a thematic concept for the park — "homage to woman". This was met with both interest and derision. The municipal authority found it essential that an art advisory committee should provide guidelines for the aesthetic enhancement of a public urban space. The committee comprised six members: two art historians appointed by the Oslo Municipal Authority, two practising artists appointed by the Association of Norwegian Sculptures, and two representatives from the C. Ludens Ringnes Foundation. The basic framework for the sculpture park and its contents was agreed when the Oslo City Council sanctioned a new zoning plan for the area, and the Foundation promptly signed an agreement with the Oslo Municipal Authority on 24 August 2011. The park's art concept is an annex to this agreement.
The art advisory committee has emphasised that sculptures and installations should be positioned in this culture-rich area with respect for both cultural heritage and the natural environment. It was decided to give the park an identity by establishing "feminine-inspired in all its diversity" as the park's overall concept. The committee has allowed the concept to remain completely open without providing any closer definition. Nor has the choice of artwork been defined within this framework. Instead, it is up to the individual visitor to experience and interpret the artworks in whatever direction the visitor feels is natural.
An agreement between the Municipal Authority and a private foundation
The agreement between Oslo Municipal Authority and C. Ludens Ringnes Foundation commits the Foundation to having at least 23 sculptures in place for the opening of the park, whereof a minimum of 3 works must be specially commissioned and site-specific. When the park opens in September there will be 30 artworks in place and 7 of these will be specially commissioned from some of the world's foremost contemporary artists.During the past three years, Ekeberg has been visited by a host of internationally-renowned artists such as James Turrell, Jenny Holzer, Dan Graham, Tony Oursler and Marina Abramovic. These artists have drawn inspiration from Ekeberg's history and natural surroundings and created a series of unique works that will not only give vitality to the area but also contribute to internationalizing the Norwegian art scene.
A surprising encounter between art, history and nature
The sculpture park's artistic spectrum —from classical masters such as Rodin and Maillol, via Salvador Dali's surrealistic pieces, to more modern and contemporary forms of creative expressionism by Lynn Chadwick, Tony Cragg , Sarha Sze, Matt Johnson and Louise Bourgeois — makes it a unique and fascinating place to visit. "Ekeberg Park offers surprising encounters between art, history and nature that will be both enriching and inspiring to the public at large," says managing director Ina Johannesen.
Ekeberg Park will grow dynamically in the years to come through the addition of more sculptures and installations the park has space for up to 80 unique works of art). Thus, when Ekeberg Park opens on 26 September, the city of Oslo will get a solid artistic boost.