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Lawrence Weiner artwork lights up the perimeter fence of the new National Museum and the Nesodd ferry

Press Release   •   Oct 31, 2016 06:14 GMT

Lawrence Weiner, HELD JUST ABOVE THE CURRENT, 2016. Courtesy of Moved Pictures Archive.

The National Museum, OSLO PILOT and Statsbygg in collaboration with the ferry services Norled and Ruter are pleased to present a commissioned work by the internationally renowned New York-based artist Lawrence Weiner. On 4 November the work, HELD JUST ABOVE THE CURRENT (2016), will be unveiled on the perimeter fence around the construction site of the new National Museum, on the Nesodd ferry, and in the form of 50,000 small tattoos handed out in several locations in Oslo.

Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942 in New York) is one of the foremost artists in America and Europe today. A central figure in the Conceptual art movement of the 1960s, he is renowned for his language-based sculptures and other works exploring language. His artworks can be found in numerous museums, private collections and public spaces around the world. As a leading figure in the conceptual art movement of the 1960s, Weiner’s exceptional, pioneering creations defy traditional notions of what constitutes a work of art.

Using language as his material, Weiner has defined his work as sculpture and when asked, he refers to its medium as “language + the material referred to”. Weiner maintains that language itself is 3-dimensional, declaring that the work is what it says it is. His work seeks to transcend the restraints of any particular culture and context, leaving it open to the individual’s intellectual reading as a “receiver”. As such, his work is ever present, ever in flux and never finished. It offers a radical redefinition of the relationship between artist and receiver, thereby promoting a universal accessibility for art.

Lawrence Weiner in Norway
Today, Weiner’s only permanent work to be seen in Norway is WATER MADE IT WET, installed on a large commercial building in Svolvær harbour for the Lofoten International Art Festival in 1999. He has participated in two shows at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. His 1996 work THINGS MADE TO BE SEEN FORCEFULLY OBSCURED was included in the group show “Draft Deceit” in 2006, and his 1994 piece USE ENOUGH TO MAKE IT SMOOTH ENOUGH ASSUMING A FUNCTION was exhibited in the lobby of Kunstnernes Hus in 2014. In September 2016 he had an exhibition at OSL contemporary in Oslo. This is not to say that Weiner’s contact with Norway has been slight. Just as he was formulating his seminal Statement of Intent in 1969, he fabricated A GLACIER VANDALISED somewhere on the Svartisen glacier.

Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942 New York, NY) lives and works in New York. Significant solo exhibitions of the artist’s work have been held at numerous museums and institutions. In 2007, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, organised the first major retrospective of his work in the United States, which travelled to K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, Germany. Other recent and notable exhibitions include Blenheim Palace (the birthplace of W. Churchill), Woodstock, England (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2013); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona (2013); Tate Modern, London (2012, 2006); ARKEN Museum, Køge; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain (2008); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2004); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (2000); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1994); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (1990). He has contributed to dOCUMENTA 5, 6, 7, and 13 (1972, 1977, 1982, 2012); the 36th, 41st, 50th and 55th iterations of La Biennale di Venezia (1972, 1984, 2003, 2013); the 27th Biennale de São Paulo (2006); and the Istanbul Biennale (2015). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Roswitha Haftmann Prize (2014); Doctor of Humane Letters from the City University of New York (2013); the Skowhegan Medal for Painting/Conceptual Art (1999); the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, Cologne; a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994); and two National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships (1976, 1983).

The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design holds, preserves, exhibits, and promotes public knowledge about, Norway's most extensive collections of art, architecture and design. A new building for the National Museum is under construction, and the new museum will open in 2020. More information.

OSLO PILOT is a two-year project curated by Eva González-Sancho and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk to investigate the role of art in and for the public realm and to lay ground for a future periodic art event in public space. OSLO PILOT is initiated and financed by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Norway. More information.

Statsbygg is the Norwegian government's key advisor in construction and property affairs, building commissioner, property manager and property developer. Statsbygg is a public sector administration company responsible to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. More information.


The National Museum: Eva Engeset, press officer, tel.: (+47) 46 95 01 02, email:
OSLO PILOT: Tanja Sæter, coordination manager for production and communications, tel.: (+47) 41 21 17 17, email:
Statsbygg: Birgitte Bye, communications manager for the New National Museum Project, tel.: (+47) 95 91 88 79, email:

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