by Maaretta Jaukkuri, January 2017
The Place is situated on the shore of the Norwegian Sea. Its closest neighbours, somewhere beyond the horizon, are Greenland and the Spitzbergen islands. The Place is in an inhabited rural area, yet one that offers ample peace and tranquillity in a majestic natural environment renowned for its beauty and ever-changing moods. Here one becomes sensitised to nature but also aware of the grave threats it is facing. We are confronted with nature in daily life, in a real and ethically compelling but gentle manner.
The Place is open to all who are in direct or indirect ways connected to contemporary arts and sciences. The guests, or Fellows, as we have chosen to call the people staying in The Place, can be artists, curators, authors, natural or social scientists, philosophers, astronomers, spiritual thinkers, economists, visionaries or whatever groups or individuals the future will bring to us. Knowledge is here understood comprehensively and includes both its formal and informal areas of competence as it is stated in the Foundation’s mission.
The Place will offer its Fellows the physical premises as well as time and resources to re-think and expand an understanding of the time we are living in. How we need to widen and strengthen dialogues between different areas of knowledge, between culture and nature, arts and sciences. The present time calls for bold thinking and courageous actions. However, we all think and act in our own individual ways so there won’t be any overall ideology connected to The Place other than providing everyone the freedom to think and shape their own opinions as long as these do not hurt other people or damage nature.
The ongoing time may always have been a challenge, but due to the complexities among which we now try to navigate, it seems reasonable to say that we are confronted with serious issues about a common future which we share with the world at large. The goal is to become aware of the changing rhythms, the fruitful paradoxes, the new openings, the blind spots and the alleys that we enter into in order to increase our emotional and intellectual scope of recognition and understanding. In art and sciences, all these concurrent forces are shared with the public with whom we wish to communicate while being mutually influenced.
Anyone working in any field of mediation, and in my case it is art, always has to be able to situate their own inner voice, their own particular and idiosyncratic knowledge as well as their own often intuitive insights into the wider framework of what is happening in the arts and in the world in order to better integrate the emerging connections. For this one requires both concentration and time to think over what one has seen and experienced, learnt or left behind, to reflect both in specific as well as in more general terms. This kind of process is usually not possible in the midst of one’s daily routines. This is true of people working in institutional settings, but, in particular, within the growing group of independent practitioners in different fields. Precarity is no longer just a working condition for the artists, but a reality for a growing number of people. The Place provides a setting where the processes of thinking and reflecting are supported, encouraged and given time.
The building provides all the necessities for simple living, granting free time for undisturbed thinking. There is no traditional studio space; instead, the whole set-up is for studying, reflecting, writing, meditating and dreaming. The surrounding environment is an ever-present source of inspiration - for wandering, wondering and experiencing. Cultural inspiration and impulses for work are provided by books and digital connections as well as a telescope to look at the stars.
My book collection provides the start of the library. I am also donating the main part of the works of art in my possession to the Foundation, hoping that they can benefit the local milieu.
Building The Place has been made possible by the generosity of the artists who have donated their works to make this building and the planned activities possible. I wish to express my deep and lasting gratitude to Kari Cavén, Tony Cragg, Dorothy Cross, Anne-Karin Furunes, Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Alfredo Jaar, Anish Kapoor, Cildo Meireles, Esko Männikkö, Bjørn Nørgaard, Markus Raetz, and Gediminas Urbonas.
The land where the building is situated is a gift from Anne Katrine Dolven who has a house and studio in close vicinity. Antony Gormley initiated the donations, and he, together with Anne Katrine, contacted the artists. Antony’s studio in London took care of the practicalities of the donations project together with Audhild Dahlstrøm, the present director of the Foundation. Audhild has worked tirelessly and with true dedication to make all this happen. Many thanks also to Ánde Somby who helped with the legal expertise connected to the establishment of the Foundation. Kimmo Aslak Liimatainen, who has designed the building, I got to know while I was working at the Museum of Contemporary Art and he and his colleagues were involved in the Museum’s exhibition architecture. Much of the first phase of this project took place without my knowledge, which I now, having recovered from the enormous surprise this all created, truly appreciate. I do hope and know that the generosity of these artists will inspire all of us in different ways in our future work.
My gratitude also goes to Thora Dolven Balke, the first chairperson of the Foundation, and the Foundation Board who have started their work in a thoughtful and inspiring way. The Place is not shy of its ambitions even though everything is in a small scale. It also seems that a mini-scale is the most powerful way to make our mission felt in today’s world.