«Forbedring av markedsfasiliteter»

Improvement of market facilities is initiated by the artist collective Mobile Kultur Byrå [Mobile Culture Bureau]. They invited 14 artists and artists’ groups to propose designs for decorating market tents for traders at the Russian Market in Kirkenes.

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  • Torgbod, Kirkenes torg. Photographer: Irene Rasmussen
  • Reguleringer, Ulrike Solbrig.
  • Matryoshka, av Pavel Pepperstein.
  • Torgboder, Kirkenes torg.
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About the project

About the project

The project had two objectives: to increase the visibility of art in the area; and to improve conditions for the Russian traders who have a long journey to the market each month. The market traders, many of whom are women or pensioners, travel 250 km from Murmansk to sell their wares: items made of wood and woven birch bark; homemade matryoshka dolls; and Russian crystal, linen and shawls. The local council provides tables for the traders to display their wares. Weather conditions in the area are harsh, however, and when it snows or rains the traders have to cover their wares, making them less visible to customers.

Ever since 2008, Mobile Kultur Byrå, a project initiated by the curator Hilde Methi (NO) and artists Kirsten Dufour (DK) and Ulrike Solbrig (DE), has been drawing attention to the situation of the market traders by arranging public meetings; staging interventions at the market; writing articles; holding exhibitions; and providing customers with interpreters. Their activities have encouraged people to think about the concept of “a market” and perhaps to revert to an older meaning of the word than has applied in recent years, that is, a market as a physical marketplace where people meet each other.

Several images and videos from the project are included in the touring exhibition I Nasjonalmuseets blindsone [In the National Museum’s blind spot], a collaborative project between Transnational Arts Production (TrAP) and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. Mobile Kultur Byrå has also addressed problems caused by the Norwegian Immigration Act and has worked with the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to improve the traders’ situation. This work has contributed in recent years to some relaxation of the complex rules and stringent restrictions faced by the traders.

The 14 tents are designed to protect the traders, their wares and the customers against snow, cold and rain, and to make the market a generally more enjoyable experience. Artists from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany have each created a pattern or image to decorate the back of a tent. When the tents are assembled in the open marketplace, the patterns and images form a kind of collage of different artistic expressions. The traders have adopted the role of explaining the different artworks to the public. They will also be selling a publication about the project.

The timing of the Russian Market in Kirkenes is determined by border regulations and other political decisions. The same regulations govern the display of the artworks. When the market traders arrive, the works on the tent cloths are unpacked and become highly visible in the centre of town. When the traders leave, the artworks are packed away.

In connection with the project, a Russian market women’s song dating from the 1920s has been adapted to refer to the market in Kirkenes. Please see Mobile kultur Byrå for market dates in Kirkenes during the year.

In addition to support from KORO’s URO funding program, the project has received funding from BarentsKult and Sør-Varanger Municipality.

Participating artists: Finn Thybo Andersen & Kirsten Dufour, Siri Austeen, Yvette Brackman, Solveig Dufour & Peter Stoffel, Espen Sommer Eide & Kristin Taarnesvik, Geir Tore Holm & Søssa Jørgensen, Ane E. Johansen, Joar Nango & Martijn In’t Veld, Annelie Nilsson, Pavel Pepperstein, Glafira Severianova, Ulrike Solbrig, Silje Figenschou Thoresen and Morten Torgersrud.




Torget på Kirkenes


Tilgjengelig for publikum


Art scheme for outdoor public spaces (URO)

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