R6, Government Building

Works by Vanessa Baird and Kajsa Dahlberg are prominently displayed inside the new Government Building 6 (R6) in Teatergata in Oslo. In the plaza outside R6, visitors and passers-by encounter a sculptural installation by Korean artist Do Ho Suh. Each of the three works in its own way suggests an attitude critical of authority.


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  • Grass Roots Square, av Do Ho Suh. Photographer: Trond Isaksen
  • Lyset forsvinner – bare vi lukker øynene, av Vanessa Baird.
  • Lenge gikk jeg tidlig til sengs, av Vanessa Baird.
  • Hundre år på en arbeidsdag, av Kajsa Dahlberg.
  • Grass Roots Square, Do Ho Suh.
  • Grass Roots Square, av Do Ho Suh.
  • Grass Roots Square, Do Ho Suh.
  • Grass Roots Square, av Do Ho Suh.
  • HUNDRE ÅR PÅ EN ARBEIDSDAG, av Kajsa Dahlberg.
  • Lenge gikk jeg tidlig til sengs, av Vanessa Baird.
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About the project

About the project

R6, Government Building

About the project

R6, which comprises two restored buildings and a new building designed by BA Arkitekter, houses the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. While artworks in Oslo’s Government Quarter have historically showcased Norwegian artists and Norwegian themes, the art committee for R6 decided to adopt a broader international approach, seeking artists who could create new kinds of work for this symbolically significant context. The selected artists, Vanessa Baird from Norway, Kajsa Dahlberg from Sweden and Do Ho Suh from South Korea, created five works in very different artistic idioms, but all concerning universal issues such as power, history and democracy.

In 2009, Do Ho Suh won the international competition to create a project for the plaza outside R6. Suh’s work Grass Roots Square, which is situated beneath and in-between paving slabs outside the building, also includes a tree to provide shade on hot summer days. From a distance, the work resembles squares of grass between the paving slabs, but on closer inspection the “grass” turns out to be tens of thousands of tiny green-patinated bronze figures. The highly detailed figures, which range from seven to 15 centimetres in height, were created in 400 hundred different designs. The figures represent a huge number of individuals of different ages, ethnicities and genders; together they form a powerful and united mass. In contrast to traditional monumental sculptures, the work lies close to the ground. As Suh explains, “Grass Roots Square is at ground level, the same level as the plaza and the public. It is at this level, the grass roots level, where you can truly understand a community.” The horizontally-oriented artwork is linked to R6’s façades by the presence of a tall tree growing between the figures and the building.

Kajsa Dahlberg’s text-based work inside the entrance to the building, Hundre år på en arbeidsdag [A hundred years on a working day], celebrates the centenary in 2013 of the introduction of universal suffrage in Norway. Slogans from 100 years (1913-2013) of the Norwegian women’s movement are projected onto the concrete wall of the entrance lobby, playing in a loop that lasts seven-and-a-half hours. When arriving for work, government employees may read words such as Vi vil ha menneskelønn, ikke kvinnelønn [We want human wages, not women’s wages], while at the end of the day they may be confronted with the slogans Gjør det sjøl [Do it yourself] or Jeg er også norsk [I too am Norwegian]. The work draws attention to all the campaigns and setbacks lying behind the rights that today we take for granted. It also depicts the long-drawn-out struggles involved in campaigning for civil rights.

In 2010, Vanessa Baird was commissioned to create three large wall-paintings for the media room and ministerial sections of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health and Care Services. Like Baird’s earlier work, the painting in the media room Lyset forsvinner – bare vi lukker øynene [Light disappears as soon as we close our eyes] is burlesque, humorous and somewhat subversive. The painting includes references to Norwegian buildings and landscapes, animals and birds, and characters from well-known fables and folktales, such as the female troll from the folktale “Shepherding the King’s Hares”. In Baird’s version, the female troll has had her nose stuck in the tree trunk for so long that only her skeleton remains.

The paintings overturn familiar cultural icons, while also evoking personal histories, as evidenced by the depictions of abandoned holiday cabins, empty beds, and maternal exhaustion. The various different motifs are united by Baird’s use of colour and the many sheets of paper shown flying across the painting. The painting encourages the viewer to reflect on the complex nature of bureaucracy: on the case files, laws and regulations that may have dramatic consequences for individual lives.

Baird’s paintings provoked strong reactions among some government employees working in the building, and the Ministry of Health and Care Services rejected the third painting. The reason given was that the flying case papers aroused associations with the terror attacks of 22 July 2011, even though Baird has explicitly stated that the attacks were not a theme of the work. This third painting, To Everything There is a Season, is now displayed in the reception lobby at the offices of Arts Council Norway. The two other paintings, Light disappears … and Lenge gikk jeg tidlig til sengs [For a long time I used to go to bed early], will remain in R6, hanging in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s media room and ministerial section respectively. In the longer term, KORO hopes to bring the three paintings together in the same building.

Facts

Facts

Address

Teatergata 9

Date completed

13.03.2014

Project manager

Elisabeth Tetens Jahn

Art consultant/Art Committee

Hilde Skjeggestad
Ane Hjort Guttu

Architect

BA arkitekter AS

Building owner/developer

Statsbygg

Host representative

Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet
Landbruks- og matdepartementet

Duration

Permanent

Accessibility

Limited public access

Program

Art scheme for new government-owned buildings

Kunstverk

Kunstverk

Milestones

Milestones

  • 24.05.2007
    Oppdragsbrev fra Statsbygg

  • 10.01.2008
    konsulenter valgt

  • 19.02.2009
    Kunstplan, del 1 vedtatt

  • 10.03.2009
    Invitasjon lukket konkurranse

  • 11.11.2009
    Juryering lukket konkurranse

  • 14.04.2010
    Kunstplan del 2 vedtatt

  • 07.10.2014
    Ferdigstillt

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