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Lofoten International Art Festival - LIAF 2024

Curator of this year's festival is Kjersti Solbakken. In this short introductory text she introduces the thematic lines that the festival will be inspired by.

Lofoten International Art Festival 2024 is inspired by the history of the Lofoten Line: a large-scale national initiative from 1861 which sought to make the Lofoten fishery more efficient. Through its 170 km of underwater cables and land lines, the facility constituted the country's first telegraph line outside the main telecommunications network. During the long, cold winter months when the Lofoten fishery took place, a temporary connection was established between nine fishing hamlets: Skrova, Brettesnes, Svolvær, Ørsvåg (later moved to Kabelvåg), Henningsvær, Steine, Ballstad, Reine and Sørvågen. The telegraphed messages conveyed information about the movements of the skrei – a migrating cod that swims every year from the Barents Sea to Lofoten to spawn. The messages could also give warning of upcoming storms and bad weather. The Lofoten Line was thus a network of spark-gap transmitter stations on land and undersea.

One of the world's strongest ocean currents nevertheless prevented the cables from reaching the outermost islands of Lofoten: Værøy and Røst. Was it perhaps the inaccessibility of these islands that made it particularly interesting – in fact absolutely necessary – to find new ways to communicate? After a series of trials and experiments, by 1903 wireless messages were successfully transmitted between Røst and Sørvågen. There’s a story about a man who rowed all the way from Røst to Sørvågen, a stretch of 60 kilometres across perilous waters, to bring the news that a signal from Sørvågen had passed the Lofoten mountains, crossed the maelstrom and been picked up in Røst by the over 50-metre tall wooden signal-receiver mast. Three years later, Northern Europe's first wireless spark-gap transmitter station opened between Sørvågen and Røst. This made Norway number two in the world – only beaten by the Italians, who managed to establish a similar connection the year before. 

“LIAF 2024 will be held in Svolvær between 20 September and 20 October.”

LIAF 2024 will be a vibrant network of temporary connections which, in dialogue with a wide range of collaborators and supporters, and through art projects, texts, conversations, guest visits, co-productions, collective approaches and cross-institutional partnerships, will help reveal what the Lofoten Line could look like today.

The festival will consist of a large exhibition spread across a number of venues, plus lectures and readings, performances, concerts and artist talks.  During the opening weekend (20–22 September) the artists and our collaboration partners will be present. Visitors will be able to take part in an extensive opening programme consisting of live events, talks and an opening party.

In addition to the main exhibition in Svolvær, the festival will take place at various satellite arenas through a programme that starts as early as in April. The upcoming edition of the Lofoten International Art Festival opens in Svolvær in 2024, the same year as the neighbouring city of Bodø and Nordland County as a whole hold the title of European Capital of Culture.

Kjersti Solbakken (b. 1984, Valnesfjord) is a curator, writer and an institutional leader based in Oslo, Norway. Between 2017 and 2022 she was director of Kunstnerforbundet in Oslo, one of Scandinavia’s oldest artist-run exhibition spaces.

Between 2015-2016 Solbakken was director of Galleri Format in Oslo and from 2014-2015 the director of Fotogalleriet in Oslo. In 2014 she curated the exhibition ‘Biography’ by Elmgreen & Dragset at Astrup Fearnley Museet, together with Gunnar Kvaran. Kjersti Solbakken has curated numerous exhibitions as a freelance curator for institutions such as Hordaland Kunstsenter, Vestlandsutstillingen (Kunsthall Stavanger, Sogn og Fjordane Kunstmuseum, Kunsthuset Kabuso, Kunstmuseet Kube and Haugesund Kunstforening) Telemark Kunstsenter, F15 and Stormen kunst/dájdda.

“I would like to use LIAF as a platform to take a closer look at local stories, archives, collections and conditions that can help open up our local history.”
— Kjersti Solbakken

Lofoten International Art Festival – LIAF isthe longest-running art biennial inScandinavia, presenting works by local and international artists in a location-conscious context. This year's festival, which is the 18th edition, is curated by Kjersti Solbakken (b. 1984). LIAFseeks to be an open, experimental and accessible meeting place for artists, contributors, collaborators andaudiences. LIAF does not have a set venue but takes place at different locations in Lofoten each time it is held.

The Lofoten International Art Festival - LIAF is organized by North Norwegian Art Centre in collaboration with LIAF Artistic Advisory Board. The members of the Artistic Advisory Board are glass artist Sigrid Høyforsslett Bjørbæk (chair), associate professor of art history Hanne Hammer Stien (vice-chair), director of North Norwegian Art Centre Marianne Hultman, director of Sør-Troms museum Sabrina van der Ley, artist Kjetil Berge and ceramicist and entrepreneur Halvor Skiftun Digernes.

Entrance to Lofoten International Art Festival is always free!

More information about the programme, artists, collaboration partners and supporters is coming soon. Stay tuned to all our channels! 

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