Henningsvær Lighthouse is located in the most beautiful part of the Norwegian coastline. This month, the quietly dazzling surroundings will provide the setting for art icon Yoko Ono’s latest project ONOCHORD (lighthouse).
Published: 17 January 2018
From January 20 and throughout February, the Northern Lights of Lofoten will have to compete with a very special sequence of blinking lights.
From Henningsvær Lighthouse, the message “I love you” will be broadcast around the clock – first with one blink (“I”), then two (“love”) and then three (“you”) – with the intention of spreading the idea across the world.
This work comes from the mind of one of the art world’s true stars, Yoko Ono. The artist, musician and peace activist explains the concept of ONOCHORD (lighthouse) in the following way:
“There is so much fear, confusion and anger in the world, and it’s nice to have a moment when we think of love, instead of anything else.”
Henningsvær Lighthouse is owned by art collectors Venke Hoff and her husband Rolf, who have collected and exhibited Norwegian and international art for 30 years.
In addition to the lighthouse, they run the art venue KaviarFactory in Henningsvær, where works by a number of major artists have been shown since 2013.
In cooperation with Danish curator Luise Faurschou and her Faurschou Art Resources, ONOCHORD (lighthouse) is arranged by the KaviarFactory – a collaboration that came to life during a lucky meeting, according to Venke Hoff.
“When Luise, who I have known for more than 20 years, visited Yoko Ono in New York last year, Ono told her that she has always had a dream about working with a lighthouse. Then she asked Luise if she knew anyone up north with a lighthouse. 'Yes, I do', she told her. Then the ball started rolling.”
And it rolled at a fast pace.
“Yoko Ono turns 85 on February 18. She wanted this process to be swift”, Hoff says.
The former caviar factory, known for its production of the traditional spread Lofot paste from the 50s and way into the 90s, is now one of the region's most vital art scenes.
Among the many international artists having been exhibited in the white, cube-shaped venue the last five years, names such as Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramović, Gilbert & George and Cindy Sherman stand out.
Numerous Norwegian artists from the top shelf have been represented – Ida Ekblad, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Kjartan Slettemark and Bjarne Melgaard (who has designed the doorknobs in the building) is just a few of them.
“Almost all the journalists and many guests use the word unexpected when they visit us. Looking at some of the world’s greatest artwork in a fishing village with 450 residents is probably a bit unusual,” Venke Hoff says.
In 2016, the Hoffs received the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Fund’s prize for brilliant conservation work.
“That’s why we often have groups of architects visiting us. We were awarded with the prize for what we haven’t done rather than what we have,” she says.
Henningsvær may be Norway’s best-known fishing community. Despite its modest number of inhabitants, the village has a lot to offer, with a number of alternatives when it comes to accommodation and eating.
It’s no wonder that Yoko Ono chose to bring her ONOCHORD project – 14 years after she originally created it – to this place. Against the dark sea, the Northern Lights and the white mountains, the message will glow with great intensity. In the words of the artist:
"Let’s send light to each other, and let’s send love!"