About the project
About the project
About the project
Rena, which is Norway’s largest military camp, was completed in 1997. Functional and up-to-date, with much emphasis on the quality of both the architecture and the overall environment, it is an example of the armed forces’ vision for a new and modern style of military camp. As part of this vision, the armed forces also wanted to acquire an interesting collection of art for the camp.
Photographers Per Christian Brown, Ingrid Book/Carina Hedén, Mette Tronvoll and Jim Bengtsson were engaged to follow military activities and exercises carried out by units from Rena Military Camp both in Norway and abroad throughout the year. The photographers were encouraged to bring their own individual experiences and perspectives to the project. The resulting 130 works hang in various buildings in the camp and have also been reproduced in a book. Permitting artists to create their interpretations of a place through this kind of processual project represented something new, especially in a relatively closed social institution such as the armed forces.
Jim Bengtsson’s series On-site/Rena and The Architecture of Quick Decisions shows soldiers both on active service and off duty. Some pictures show targets in the landscape, equipment and tanks. None of the images is posed or taken in a studio; they are raw and authentic, although Bengstsson composed his images in a fashion intended to create a form of theatrical expression.
The photographs by Ingrid Book and Carina Hedén simultaneously depict huge landscapes and tiny details. The images do not set up clear distinctions between the magnificent and the simple and the out-of-the-ordinary and the mundane. Each tree, each green-clad soldier, and each wormhole is depicted with equal sharpness. Although the photographs have titles such as Landscape, the images may just as well be described as portraits of an environment: they show how the camp is organized, its particular demands, and ideas about the use of forest and mountain areas.
Mette Tronvoll produced 32 large-format portraits showing soldiers wearing military equipment. The soldiers are not portrayed as individuals, but as functionaries in a world under threat from war and terrorism. The photographs appear staged, but in fact the soldiers themselves chose how to stand and what to wear when being photographed. The images provoked heated debate in the media and in military circles: could they create erroneous perceptions about macho warriors and killing machines in the Norwegian armed forces? Would they give away military secrets regarding the soldiers’ equipment and training?
Per Christian Brown took a number of photographs at Rena. One series of photographs, Pillow Fight 1-6, shows male recruits holding a pillow fight, with clouds of feathers flying around in what appears to be a storage room or a garage for military vehicles. The subject-matter provoked disgust in the armed forces, who associated it with a description of themselves as “Norway’s biggest playground”.
In 2010, it emerged that several of the framed photographs from this project had been removed and replaced with photographs taken by the armed forces’ own photographer. Subsequently it was agreed that the photographs in question should be reprinted and rehung.
Kavaleriveien 1, 2450 Rena
Art consultant/Art Committee
LPO Arkitekter og Design AS
Partly accessible by the audience
Art scheme for new government-owned buildings