Main Building

OPEN (rather than closed)  

Exhibition on display in the Main Building 2020:


OPEN (rather than closed)


Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium’s exhibition programme for the 2020 season reflects the situation affecting both the arts sector and wider society this spring. On account of restrictions imposed to minimise the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) we have had to think in new and alternative ways. We are living through times of huge unpredictability and change for the individual and society as a whole. We are spending much more time than usual in our local area and within the four walls of our house. The local and personal have in various ways formed the basis for VKL’s programme of exhibitions and educational tools for 2020.


In the Project Room we are presenting the archival exhibition FABRIKKEN - en utstilling om Vestfos Cellulosefabrik (The Factory – an exhibition about Vestfos Cellulosefabrikk), a historic retrospective focusing on the actual buildings which today house VKL. In another section of this former cellulose factory we have a storeroom containing several art collections. The special circumstances surrounding this season have given us the opportunity to show a selection of the art which is to be found here in Vestfossen. Our main exhibition is called ÅPENT (istedenfor stengt) – OPEN (rather than closed) – and draws for most part on works in the collection of VKL’s Artistic Director, Morten Viskum. We feel sure the exhibition will give our visitors a fascinating and enjoyable art experience.


Ever since we opened our doors in 2003 the thought has struck me: What would we do if the planned exhibition had to be abandoned at short notice? Shutting down has never been in the spirit of the Kunstlaboratorium. So I have always had the attitude that we should stay open, rather than closed, and I have therefore always had a backup ready somewhere in the back of my mind. It took a pandemic to make it a reality.
– Morten Viskum, Artistic Director


On April 2nd this year, after a series of extraordinary board meetings, the board gave us the go-ahead to present an alternative exhibition programme to the one that was in preparation. A potential opening date was set for May 2nd, and in the space of four weeks we managed to create a new main exhibition and season profile that we would be proud to present to our visitors.


We have also taken innovative measures with our educational programme: this year our exhibitions will be accessible in a virtual format. On the internet, in the comfort of their own homes, people will be able to enjoy the exhibitions and access extra educational material.


ÅPENT (istedenfor stengt) consists of mostly two-dimensional works by 39 different artists, spread across the four floors of the Main Building. The collection has been accumulated over a period of more than 30 years, since the first artwork was acquired in 1986. It embraces huge artistic variation and might be regarded as testimony to a collector’s activity on the national and international scene. It is a collection characterised by its breadth and depth of motif, expression, and structure. Acquisitions have been made on a random basis – guided by prevailing financial conditions, psychological states, and instinct. Every piece in the collection has its own story.


In 2013, a large portion of Viskum’s collection, such as it was at that point, was exhibited at VKL as En kunstner som samler kunst (An Artist Collecting Art). The works exhibited this year were not on show then, indeed most have been acquired since 2013. There has been a marked focus in this period on the works of particular artists, including Bjarne Melgaard, Fredrik Værslev, Rose Wylie, and Jørgen Dobloug. This is also the case with ÅPENT (istedenfor stengt), where a select handful of artists are afforded special attention. Nevertheless, in the way the exhibition juxtaposes artworks and invites dialogue between a variety of art practices and expressions, it can be regarded as fundamentally relational and contextual. Although the majority of the artists on show belong to the established art scene, the collection is first and foremost personal and, as such, does not aspire to a consensus-oriented understanding of what constitutes quality in art.



Unni Askeland, Ari Behn, Joseph Beuys,
Sverre Bjertnæs, Kadar Brock,
Jørgen Dobloug, Ida Ekblad, Carin Ellberg,
Marco Evaristti, Matias Faldbakken,
H.M. Dronning Sonja, Steinar Haga Kristensen,
Ann Cathrin November Høibo, Thomas Kvam,
Line Larsen (The Artist Formerly Known As
Virg), Markus Lüpertz, Mickael Marman,
Paul McCarthy, Bjarne Melgaard,
Agnes Moraux, Edvard Munch, Ulf Nilsen,
Hermann Nitsch, Mathias Ma$Arati Nordby,
Mikael Lo Presti, Pushwagner, Edgar Sarin,
Christoph Schellberg, Will Schneider-White,
Joronn Sitje, Kjartan Slettemark,
Sergei Tcherepnin, Erik Tidemann, Ståle Vold,
Fredrik Værslev, Emily Wardill,
Andy Warhol, Rose Wylie, Øyvind Zahl