In the nineteenth century, the workers lived a hand-to-mouth existence, and work was tough and non-stop. The workers at Vøien Bomuldsspinderi, the local cotton mill, lived in crammed quarters in Sagveien 8. They were so poor they couldn’t even afford to dream, and with no means of escape. The building itself was a hovel - a gloomy sight in the Brenna neighbourhood. The flats had been merged into one, the roof was made of tarpaulin – it was a cold, dirty, and hostile environment. Indoors, there was too little to share for the sixty-three labourers, but at least the courtyard had cold water, a latrine and stacked firewood for all. ‘Knock it down,’ they said, ‘build better, higher, wider!’
Some day in the nineties, someone from The Oslo Museum strolled through the neighbourhood and upon looking at the house, exclaimed: ‘Look at that!’. Because Sagveien 8 is, in fact, a building with several architectural interests. The city of Oslo acknowledged its historic value, and thus offered renewal and a promising future for the old, worn down shack. ‘Du skal få en dag I måro…’ The promise was kept. The Labour Museum, Arbeidermuseet, has now claimed its proper space in the cityscape of Oslo. ‘How fortunate that it was not knocked down!’ they said.
The number 8 resembles a standing Mobius strip with its infinite shape; a continuous loop without beginning or end. In Greek mythology, eternity is described through the struggle of Sisyphos, the king of Corinth. He cheated death more than once. As punishment for his mischiefs and cunning tricks he was forced to perform the repeated struggle of rolling a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down every time he neared the top. Like in the myth, the never-ending work at Vøien cotton mill was another Sisyphean task.
AD_VENT’s number 8 spins off the endless struggles of the textile workers. The number itself has soft curves; its rhythms repeated with never-ending fabric. The artist counts eights rows of plain and purl stiches.
The artist creates images with words and composes texts with drawings that tell stories about existential conciousness and uncomfortable intimacy. The old building, Sagveien 8, functions as a dramatic backdrop to a scene where the audience is offered small glimpses into the gloomy lives of fictive characters. The artist presents a timeless, brutally honest and ruthless environment.
AD_VENT – The art of waiting – is an untraditional advent calendar that offers unique artistic experiences in public spaces. The door's number is both the address and the date. Behind the doors are surprises in the form of visual art, music, literature, theatre, performance or dance.
We would like to thank Oslo Kommune Kulturetaten, KORO and Kulturrådet for their positive engagement and financial support that has made it possible for AD_VENT to give the people of Oslo unique art experiences during the “waiting time” – free of charge.