Artist: Marthe Ramm Fortun
Exhibition title: Stones to the Burden
Curated by: Jenny Kinge and Natalie Hope O’Donnell
Venue: Munchmuseet (Munchmuseet on the Move), Oslo, Norway
Date: May 19 – November 24, 2016
Photography: Andrea Galiazzo, The Munch Museum, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Munchmuseet
Marthe Ramm Fortun has created a multifaceted, site-specific project for Munchmuseet on the Move, consisting of sculpture, performance, painting, text and an enduring presence in the Munch Museum’s neighbourhood of Tøyen. Using portable artwork as a formal platform to engage passers-byes, Fortun invites action and speech that test the limits of behaviour and merge utterings from disparate sources.
Marthe Ramm Fortun’s mixed-media installation has been on display in the internal, outdoor atrium at the Munch Museum since May. As the title, Stones to the Burden, indicates, stones – carved marble tablets – form the core of her project. The large stone tablet is inscribed with a quote from Norwegian poet Gunvor Hofmo (1921–1995): “Friend, give me soul and mouth!” The poem evokes the loss of her lover Ruth Maier, who was deported from Oslo to Auschwitz during the German occupation of Norway in 1942. The stone fits neatly within the suitcase that holds it, affixed with fluorescent straps to a metal fence. A newspaper and a bunch of flowers also peek out of the suitcase; it is flanked by smaller stone tablets cut to the measurements of the artist’s notebook, and adorned with her created symbols for soul and mouth, respectively.
Over the spring and summer, Marthe Ramm Fortun has removed the stone tablets from the Munch Museum and taken them to nearby Tøyen Torg, the square formed between several tower blocks, erected in the 1960. In a series of unannounced and intimate exchanges, she invited bystanders to handle the tablets while the she sat and painted watercolours across broadsheet newspapers, occasionally engaging in conversation. The actions she performs range from the absurd to the mundane, such as arranging her body and the sculptures in assemblage with the modernist architecture of the square or painting fresh flowers from the local shop on the front page of the international edition of the New York Times. With such ephemeral actions, Fortun hopes to create an interface between the quotidian and overarching political realities.
A synthesis of the actions at Tøyen Torg are presented as cut-up-poetry in a public performance on the number 20 bus route, a journey that traverses the city of Oslo from Skøyen in the west to Tøyen in the east. The journey ends at the Munch Museum, where Marthe Ramm Fortun’s publication Stein til Byrden is launched. The decorated newspapers are on display at the metro station at Tøyen. The performance has been filmed and Stein til Byrden will be screened at the Munch Museum on 24 November.
Marthe Ramm Fortun (b. 1978) is an artist living and working in Oslo. She traverses the city with site-specific works that assemble polyphonic stories, such as in Inverted Sky at Performa, New York (2013); Skrive byen, skrive den om at UKS Gallery in Oslo (2014); and I saw my future in your eyes at BOZAR as part of Performatik in Brussels (2015). Her project Stein til Byrden/Stones to the Burden was commissioned for Munchmuseet on the Move 2016, and curated by Jenny Kinge and Natalie Hope O’Donnell.
Munchmuseet on the Move (2016-2019) is an off-site curatorial project that continues and develops the work of the Stenersen Museum in Vika (1994-2015), now part of the Munch Museum. Munchmuseet on the Move includes a series of contemporary art commissions, shown in the area between the current Munch Museum at Tøyen and the new museum, opening in Bjørvika in 2020. The aim of the contemporary art programme is to establish relationships with the neighbourhoods the Munch Museum will be moving through on its one-mile journey down to the waterfront of Bjørvika.