Det arkeologiske rommet — Et samtidskunstprosjekt om hvordan kulturarv blir til av Nina Torp

The archeological space

— A contemporary art project about how cultural heritage is created

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↑ Film documenting the exhibition at the archaeological site C4 in Arendal in 2016 by Ingvar Flaten Aarnes.


[fade]SITUATIONS is a three year project and a collaboration between the artist Nina Torp and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. Since 2015, Nina Torp has followed the archaeological investigations carried out in connection with the building of the new E18 motorway between Tvedestrand and Arendal in southern Norway.[/fade] 

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The photographs document the the exhibition at the archaeological site C4 and C5 in Arendal in 2016.

Photographs by Nina Torp and Ellen C. Holte /© Kulturhistorisk museum, UIO


Stone Age and modernism

Nina Torp is an artist who works with themes connected to cultural heritage, architecture and archaeology. Through a series of photos, videos, and sculptures, Torp presents an external perspective of the daily work of museum archaeologists and the common cultural heritage they are involved in creating.

“In this project I have followed the contemporary human being (the archaeologists) in their search for the traces of people of prehistoric times. How do archaeologists work? What methods do they use and where do these methods come from? What types of tools do they use on site and how is the practical work of excavation carried out?“

“I began by taking a look at the scientific methods and procedures used by archaeologists to dig up artefacts. Archaeologists excavate using a grid system with coordinates for each square, a method that makes it easier to carry out systematic excavations resulting in “quantifiable documentation“. The basis for the methods used today were developed in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, the same time as the development of modernism.“

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[fade]“By interpreting the archaeologists´ scientific documentation (digital and analogue drawings) and my own photographs of the excavations, I have taken this “documentation” further, creating works in various materials in order to direct focus on the methods by which cultural history is created.“

In this work, she raises fundamental questions about our relationship with the past; How do we acquire our perceptions of the past?[/fade]

[fade]The pilot project of SITUATIONS consisted of a series of photographs titled UR-FORM, shown inside the Ethnographic Library and the Antique Collection of the History Museum in Oslo in January 2016.

In June 2016, the first part of the SITUATIONS project was exhibited at two archaeological sites in Arendal.

The project is supported by the Arts Council Norway, the Norwegian Visual Artists Remuneration Fund, the Norwegian Photographic Fund and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.[/fade]


[fade]Background for the excavations conducted by the Museum of Cultural History

The excavation project in connection with the new E18 Tvedestand - Arendal motorway is one of the most comprehensive Stone Age investigations to be carried out by the Museum of Cultural History. Over 30 Stone Age localities were investigated.

The sites were located at varying heights above sea level and were mainly in wilderness areas that have not been disturbed by later human activity. This is exceptional in a European context. The sites range in date from c 9000 BC to c 1700 BC and thus cover the entire Stone Age period in Norway. 

This time perspective makes the data from the E18 Tvedestrand - Arendal project highly relevant for studies related to the long-term changes in the environment and in the use of raw materials and technology. An area that was once a blank space on the archaeological Stone Age map will now provide important reference material for Stone Age research in the years to come.[/fade]



Nina Torp lives in Oslo and is educated at the Royal College of Art, London, Kent Institute of Art & Design, Maidstone, École des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse, France and Oslo Fotokunstskole. 

Her works include projects dealing with perception and memory. By researching, analysing and interpreting cultural and historical material, she explores how culture and collective memory are created. Her projects often start with an artefact, an historical motif or a cultural phenomenon. Her works include installations made of sculptures, photographs, prints on fibre-boards and wallpaper, and videos. The purpose of her projects is to make the public aware of our standardized way of looking/observation.

Several of her projects are site-specific, focusing on the architecture of places like the archaeological excavations near Arendal (2016), Karl Marx-Allee in Berlin (2015) and Carl Berner Plass in Oslo (2012). She has published a number of art books documenting these projects.[/fade]


Thank you:

Website: Gaute Reitan for help rewriting and extracting texts, and Mikkel Cappelen Smith for web design and development.

Project: The Museum of Cultural History - Peter Bjerregaard, Katherine Elliott, Martin Hager-Saltnes, Ellen C. Holte and all employees at KHM having contributed to the project. All archaeologists at the E18 Tvedestrand - Arendal project and Lars Sundström (project manager), Kim Darmark, Gaute Reitan, Justin Kimball, Silje Hårstad, Linnea S. Johannessen, Synnøve Viken, Birgitte Bjørkli, Jo-Simon F. Stokke, KUBEN and Marianne Eldorhagen

Key grip assistant Ingvar Flaten Aarnes.

Thomas K. Egset, Rolf T. Hatlehol, Hedvig Poppe, Studio Technika, Gro Lauvland, Catrine Thorstensen, Eva Schjølberg, Gro Botten and Turid Kjellevand.