An energy field outside the traditional norms
OpenART is Scandinavia’s largest biennial for contemporary art, taking place during 12 summer weeks in Örebro. It is a biennial that revolts against traditional urban spaces, encourages creativity, and gives us the opportunity to experience the city from completely new perspectives. Works of art invade the city’s streets, squares, parks and waterways, taking over cultural scenes, shopping centres, building facades and Örebro Castle. When contemporary art becomes this accessible to the public, it promotes a dialogue about what art means to society. The exhibition invites both established and up-and-coming artists from around the world.
Art enables us to come together in a common language. OpenART Biennale is based on a conviction that a creative society builds bridges rather than walls. Each undertaking is a drop of colour, forming a hurricane that sweeps across the city, fighting against darkness and nurturing artistic and human warmth. Together an exhibition is created that leaves nothing untouched and no one unmoved. OpenART encourages visitors and residents to become a part of the creative process in the community. Children and youths can explore and strengthen their creativity through OpenART Kids. The exhibition includes guided tours, pedagogical programmes and other stimulating activities. The entire exhibition is completely free – no ticket required.
Each OpenART showcases about 100 artworks, created by contemporary artists of local, national and international fame. Over the years, the biennial has gathered a wide variety of visitors, residents, business leaders and artists from different backgrounds to come together and be a part of the powerful OpenART experience. Installations like Chiharu Shiota’s red boats hanging in rows along Köpmangatan street, Tadashi Kawamata’s chair monument at Järntorget, and Marisa Merlins stalagmites build up by aluminium cans, are just a few of the artworks that conquered Örebro’s urban spaces during the 2017 exhibition.
A DYNAMIC TRIANGLE OF CULTURE IN THE BIENNALE 2017
In the summer of 2017, Örebro, Sweden will once again be transformed into an urban art venue. For the sixth time, OpenArt Biennale will open up the city space for a public and increasingly popular contemporary art exhibition. Over the course of three months the city centre transforms into a gigantic but unpretentious gallery that attracts not just attention in Sweden but also a growing interest abroad.
OpenART Biennale 2017 will focus on the countries of Japan and Colombia, drawing energy from the exciting meeting between Asia’s thoughtful wisdom and Latin America’s colourful vitality. The triangle of Japanese, Swedish and Colombian cultures helps us let go of what we take for granted so that we can achieve something bigger. From an art perspective, Japan is a contemporary superpower. It is a country with a long history of weaving tradition with renewal to create constantly surprising expressions, but also a country curiously exploring the frontier of the future.
Colombia is a country that is trying to heal its wounds after a half-century-long and violent inner conflict. As part of OpenART’s special focus for 2017, Japan and Colombia take a leading role in the exhibition where quality and ideas charge the urban space and the city centre with artworks that are thought-provoking, beautiful and astonishing.
BIG FOCUS ON CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART
Number of artists: 102
At the fifth edition of OpenART, a special focus is on contemporary Chinese art. A unique curatorial collaboration between independent art curator Feng Boyi and OpenART Director Lars Jonnson sees thirteen contemporary artists from China preparing artworks for unprecedented exhibitions, symbolically entitled “Encounter” and “No Holds Barred”. Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing and Song Dong are among the participants.
OpenART 2015 has received a record interest, with 450 artists from more than 70 countries sending in applications. In 2015, OpenART showcases some 130 artworks, created by 72 artists from 19 countries. The artworks will be exhibited on more than 70 venues across city center.
LARGEST IN SCANDINAVIA
Number of artists: 66
Following a new political decision, OpenART became an organization of its own in 2013. It has since functioned as an independent project within the Municipality of Örebro. The event is realized in close cooperation with the city art gallery, Örebro County Museum, Konstfrämjandet Berglangen and private companies. Benefiting from great support from partners, OpenART developed diverse projects meant to actively involve a wider audience in a dialogue with art. Besides guided tours, projects for children and young people, as well as programs for artists in all stages of their careers have taken place under OpenART. Two such projects are OpenART Kids and OpenART Academy. In 2013, OpenART established itself as the biggest public art biennial in Scandinavia, featuring more than 100 works by 90 artists from all over the world, OpenART Kids, OpenART Academy, guided tours and special night tours, as well as special summer events. Almost all OpenART activities are free of charge
A BIG YELLOW RABBIT
Number of artists: 66
At its third edition in 2011, OpenART made headlines in the international media, after a gigantic bunny was dropped in Örebro’s central square, its tail against the sculpture of Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, one of Sweden’s greatest national heroes.
Florentijn Hofman’s “Big Yellow Rabbit” became an icon, loved by many and condemned by some due to its location. The love for the city’s big rabbit went as far as determining a group of people to campaign for saving it from dismantlement
The campaign to save the rabbit did not succeed. Mats Nilsson explained in an interview with The Telegraph that “we are not interested in having the rabbit reduced to a commercial gimmick.”
After a successful 2011, Mats Nilsson received Örebro Sparbanks’ culture scholarship for his involvement in the exhibition.
Number of artists: 98
In 2009, the confirmation that OpenART was becoming international came once the artist selection process begun. Applications from many parts of the world came pouring in. Örebro was taking its first step on the world’s cultural map as an exciting art platform.
THE ART GALLERY ORGANIZES THE FIRST OPENART
Number of artists: 115
It all started in 2008, when two rebel hearts and devoted art freaks decided to give people an alternative art space, one that would be experienced not only physically; a space that people would acknowledge, relive and recollect; a space that would remain in the collective conscience and that would be sacredly kept at the heart of the public. Art for everybody, in the city center – this was the idea that sparked a long-term collaboration and friendship between Mats Nilsson, then Head of the city’s art gallery and Lars Jonsson, a recently Örebro-relocated artist.
“After 10 years in Dusseldorf, which has a long tradition in arts, I’d moved back to Örebro in 2006. Life as an artist in smaller towns can be challenging. I was fortunate to have met Mats shortly after I came back to Sweden. It took us about 10 minutes and a coffee to become friends”, says Lars Jonnson. Mats and Lars started working together at the art gallery in 2007. That year, the gallery received a new policy directive to display art in unconventional places. “And then it struck us. Lars and I both wanted to the same thing – an exciting project that would put cutting-edge art on display in public locations in Örebro”, says Mats. As a result, OpenART started in the summer of 2008. The first edition featured 71 artists, mostly from Scandinavia, whose works were exhibited anywhere from hidden corners downtown Örebro to shop windows, on rooftops or on the surface of river Svartån. It became popular among the people in no time. A surprise came already in 2008, when OpenART was awarded the “Surprise of the Year” award (Årets överraskning) at Örebrogalan.