Art at Spongdal School

Artists: Trond Hugo Haugen. Title: ‘Tiden tar alt’ 2013/14 Lars-Andreas Tovey Kristiansen. Title: ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which the way the wind blows’ 2013/14 Vanna Bowles, Linn Cecilie Ulvin. Title: ‘Barneporten’, ‘Ungdomsporten’, ‘Voksenporten’ 2013/14. Art consultants: Kjersti Berg, Ellen Sofie Griegel.
Trond Hugo Haugen reflects on time in his large-scale art project at Spongdal/Byneshallen. He asks what time is, and all the pupils at the school have helped him look for an answer. Every pupil in every class in every year has contributed with a drawing where they have entered their own personal time space and drawn what was important to them at that moment. The large pile of drawings has been the starting point for Haugen’s artwork, which covers the large windowless walls of the sports centre. Enlarged, they cover the exterior walls along with the artist’s own drawings and depictions of elements from the landscape surrounding the school. Every square metre of the walls is utilised, and the drawings turn into a landscape of their own, around the sports centre, the school and the schoolyard, with musings on the past, the present and the future.
The time perspective in Haugen’s project is wide. Lying on the ground in the schoolyard, large letters cast in concrete spell out the word hadeikum, which has been used as a term for the first period of planet Earth’s existence, from it was created 4.6 billion years ago up until 3.8 billion years ago. The word is in brackets, to signify that scientists are forever changing the names and definitions of distant periods in time. The geological timeline continues in a lit sign on the school wall, with the words ‘arkeikum’, ‘proterozoikum’ and ‘fanerozoikum’, i.e. terms for Earth’s main geological periods. In addition to possibly being educational, these difficult foreign words clearly demonstrate the idea behind the artwork – the notion of the incomprehensibly long timeline in which we stand today. At the same time, we comprehend that we are at the front end of this line, and acknowledge that the line keeps getting longer for every day, every hour and every minute. The large murals contribute to this notion. They are expressions of moments that are now in the past.
Lars-Andreas Tovey Kristiansen has chosen a less abstract element in our existence than time. The wind is the starting point for his art contribution at Spongdal, an installation in three parts. A tall windmill is placed at the edge of the schoolyard, in an open landscape prone to wind. The windmill is the first and fundamental element of the installation. Power generated by the turbine is conducted through a cable to a ceiling fan and three light boards inside the school building. Both the fan and the light boards depend on electricity – and wind – to function, which means the indoor components of the installation tell us something about the wind conditions outside. The practical function of the fan is limited, but like the light boards in the school’s amphitheatre, it mainly serves as a visual element in the interior environment. The boards display photographs created in workshops with pupils at the school conducted by Kristiansen. This collaborative project consisted of building a simple windmill, which would supply power to light up a treehouse built by the pupils and the artist in a little grove. The photographs were taken during the workshop and transferred to large sheets of transparent film, which were then mounted onto the three light boards. When it is windy enough for the project’s permanent windmill to produce electricity, the boards are switched on automatically. They looked like night time images with dark silhouettes, but are now transformed and show the lit-up treehouse in amongst the trees.
Like the two other commissioned artists at Spongdal, Vanna Bowles and Linn Cecilie Ulvin make use of multiple artistic effects in their three collaborative works: Barneporten (“Doorway to Childhood”), Ungdomsporten (“Doorway to Adolescence”) and Voksenporten (“Doorway to Adulthood”). These are three separate works, but together they make up a whole, just like the different stages in age transition into one another and become a whole lifetime. The three doorways have a shape similar to the doors at the school, and suggest an opening towards something new – a transition from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood. Each of the doorways is a display case mounted in a recess in the wall. Behind the glass, there are drawings, little sculptures, objects, texts and photographs. The artists have chosen elements that they associate with the different ages and life stages, but for the beholder the interpretation of the work will be based on their individual experiences – or expectations of things to come.