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28 May 2009

Office for Contemporary Art Norway, in association with
Public Art Norway (KORO), presents

© Sverre Fehn, detail of the Nordic Pavilion,
Giardini della Biennale, Venice.
Courtesy Ferruzzi

a discussion and celebration of
Sverre Fehn


+47 23 23 31 50
+47 23 23 31 51

With an introduction by Per Olaf Fjeld
Followed by a discussion with Dan Graham, Momoyo Kaijima and
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Moderated by Gro Bonesmo and
Marco De Michelis

Friday, 5 June 2009 / 11:00

Light breakfast and mimosas to be served from 10:00

Sala Barbantini
Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Vaporetto stop: San Giorgio, Line 2

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This event is a discussion and celebration of Sverre Fehn (1924–2009), the Norwegian architect who won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1997 and who is known for his Nordic Pavilion at the Giardini in Venice. The pavilion, which contains three trees that shoot up through the roof, illustrates Fehn's view that 'building is a brutal confrontation of culture on nature, and in that confrontation you can find balance and beauty'. As he also said, 'When I build on a site in nature that is totally unspoiled, it is a fight, an attack by our culture on nature. In this confrontation, I strive to make a building that will make people more aware of the beauty of the setting, and when looking at the building in the setting, a hope for a new consciousness to see the beauty there, as well.'

Born in Oslo in 1924, Fehn studied in Paris with Jean Prouvé and Le Corbusier in the early 1950s. Upon his return to Norway, he studied with Arne Korsmo and in 1958 co-founded the Progressive Architects' Group, Oslo, Norway (PAGON) in an attempt to promote modern architecture in the country. He was the author of the Norwegian Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, Belgium, the Nordic Pavilion in Venice, and the Hedmark Cathedral Museum in Hamar, Norway, buildings that combine modern architectural language with Scandinavian forms and materials. Fehn taught at the School of Architecture in Oslo from 1971 to 1995, and in 1997 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal. In his final years he designed the Oslo headquarters of the Gyldendal publishing house, which was completed in 2007, and the Norwegian Museum of Architecture, which opened in March 2008 with a retrospective exhibition of Fehn's work.

This event will start with an introduction to Fehn's work by Per Olaf Fjeld, the author of an upcoming monograph on the architect's work, followed by a discussion with the artist Dan Graham, the architect Momoyo Kaijima (Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo), the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the architect Gro Bonesmo (Space Group, Oslo) and the architecture theorist Marco De Michelis.

About the Participants

Per Olaf Fjeld
is a professor at the School of Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway. He has lectured internationally, and in 2004 he was elected vice president of the European Association of Architectural Education (EAAE). Since 1975 Fjeld has run a small architectural studio with his wife, Emily Randall Fjeld, and has written a number of books and articles on architecture. Fjeld collaborated with Sverre Fehn for over thirty years, and his new monograph on Fehn's work, titled Sverre Fehn: The Pattern of Thoughts, will be released by The Monacelli Press in June 2009.

Dan Graham is an artist based in New York, USA. Since the mid-1960s, Graham has produced artworks and critical writing of enormous influence within artistic and cultural contexts. His interests range from suburbia and public architecture to punk music and popular culture, which he addresses in performances, installations, essays, videos, films and architectural and sculptural designs. A major retrospective show of his work titled 'Dan Graham: Beyond' recently opened at Los Angeles MOCA and will travel to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum, New York.

Momoyo Kaijima is one of the two founding members of Aterlier Bow-Wow, an architectural office established in 1992 and focused on urban research, architectural design and the creation of public artworks. As part of Aterlier Bow-Wow, Kaijima has designed both private housing and large-scale public and commercial projects, and published books such as Pet Architecture (World Photo Press, 2001) and Made in Tokyo (Kajima Institute, 2001). Atelier Bow-Wow's work has been shown at international exhibitions such as the 10th Istanbul Biennial (2007) and the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006), and has been dedicated the monograph Graphic Anatomy: Atelier Bow-Wow (Toto, 2007). Kaijima teaches at the Univerisity of Tsukuba, Japan.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London, UK. Prior to this he was Curator of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France since 2000, as well as curator of museum in progress, Vienna, Austria from 1993 to 2000. He has curated or co-curated over two hundred solo and group exhibitions internationally since 1991, including Manifesta 1, 'Cities on the Move', 'Live/Life' and 'Utopia Station'. He is the author of, among others, A Brief History of Curating (JRP|Ringier, 2008).

About the Moderators

Gro Bonesmo is an architect based in Oslo. She is founder of Oslo-based architectural firm Space Group, and a professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Previously, she was Project Director at Rem Koolhaas's OMA, and has taught architecture at Harvard and Columbia Universities. She was awarded a Masters of Advanced Architectural Design from the School of Architecture, Columbia University, and is a graduate of the Norwegian University of Technology in Trondheim, Norway. She also studied at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, where she was taught by Sverre Fehn. Bonesmo is the Chair of the Board for the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

Marco De Michelis is a visiting professor at the department of Art History at Columbia University, New York, and professor of the History of Architecture at the IUAV University in Venice, Italy. From 1999 to 2008, De Michelis was dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design at IUAV. From 1999 to 2003 he was the Walter Gropius Professor of history and theory of architecture at the Bauhaus-Universitat in Weimar, Germany and from 1993 to 1996 he directed the Galleria della Triennale in Milan, Italy. He contributes to numerous Italian and international magazines.

Venue and Directions

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is a non-profit cultural institution located on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, across the Canal from St Mark's square and Palazzo Ducale. To reach the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, please take vaporetto line no.2 to the San Giorgio stop. Vaporetto no.2 leaves from San Zaccaria (trip lasting about 3 minutes), Ferrovia (45 min), Roma (40 min) and Tronchetto (35 min).

This event has been organised by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo in association with Public Art Norway (KORO).

For more information on the event or to book a place, please contact Suzana Martins at or visit