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One of the main players behind Bylarm and the Træna festival is rebulding Norway's northern coast right next to the Oslo Opera House.
Cast your eyes across the waterfront of the Oslo Opera House and you may notice four huge fish racks – a little piece of Northern Norway transplanted into the middle of the capital.
Thus far, the nomadic art project SALT has visited Svolvær in 2010 and Sandhornøy outside Bodø from 2014 to 2015, gaining attention both locally and abroad from outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.
Now, SALT has traveled south to the Langkaia pier, where the project will remain for two years.
“Erecting a hundred meters of fish racks in central Oslo is a pretty clear symbol of where we are from,” project head Erlend Mogård-Larsen says.
“Norway has one of the longest coastal shorelines in the world, and it is the coast and the sea that have been the lifeblood of this nation and the backbone its welfare state was built upon.”
He calls SALT his most personal and political project thus far, stemming from what he perceives as a lack of appreciation for Norwegian coastal culture.
“In the museum of Norwegian culture at Bygdøy, there is only a tiny space dedicated to the coastal culture. The rest is about Østerdalen and farming culture. I think it's about time we elevated our coast.”
For visitors to tonight's grand opening, Mogård-Larsen recommends taking a stroll after dusk through The Arctic Pyramid, the largest of the fish racks, in order to hear the sound installation there by artist Jana Windem.
“It is a composition of sorts, consisting of sounds from whales, orcas, pollock and crayfish. It's a visual experience, conjuring up a lot of images as you pass beneath the great fish rack and listen.”
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Aside from the fish racks, SALT has also erected several other buildings down by the water. Langhuset (The Long House) is a multi-purpose building for art exhibitions, concerts and great feasts, while Naustet, partly constructed from driftwood, functions as a café and bar.
“This is a good old fashion boathouse, decorated in the manner of your grandmother's coastal cabin,” Mogård-Larsen says.
“Going inside, it feels a bit like entering a slightly different world. Until Easter, it'll only be open during weekends, but after Easter it'll be open all week long.”
The last building holds a space like an auditorium, seating 125 people while also (in two weeks time or so) doubling as a really large sauna.
“Árdna is a samii word that means to go looking for a treasure, a secret.”
The auditorium will be a place for debates and conversations about the sea and the environment, both with and without sweat-inducing temperatures. Here, visitors will also be able to look out on the waterfront as they listen to soundscapes by Norwegian ambient pioneer Biosphere and artists Margrethe Pettersen and Jana Winderen.
“You can watch Bjørvika and the Oslo Opera House as you hear the sounds of the north from both above and below the surface.”
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Hopefully, SALT's time in Oslo will prove more peaceful that when the art project resided on the beach of Sandhornøy. In 2015, the fish racks collapsed as the first storm of Autumn came crashing in.
“That's coastal life for you,” Mogård-Larsen says.
“You lose a few boathouse roofs and barns and buildings every year. But you always rebuild.”
SALT can be found at the address Langkaia 1 and will open on February the 10th, remaining in Oslo until the 31st of October 2018.
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