Örebro OpenArt 2015

  • Sarah Surgey
  • Tagged , , , ,
  • 30th June 2015
  • openart

    OpenART is Scan­di­navia’s biggest public art bien­nial, running for twelve weeks in Örebro, Sweden. With its fifth edition in 2015 (Örebro OpenArt 14th June-6th September) OpenART commits once again to turning the city upside down, with art that will surprise, intrigue and inspire.




    Contem­po­rary art from all over the world is temporarily displayed in the city center, for everyone to expe­ri­ence without an admis­sion ticket. The public space becomes under OpenART an inten­sively shared space, that people acknowledge, re-expe­ri­ence and re-collect. Addi­tion­ally, OpenART takes a broad leap into the public arena, with projects and activ­i­ties that reach out to a diverse public. Guided tours, activ­i­ties for chil­dren and young people, as well as special events are avail­able for everyone under the summer of 2015.

    When OpenART’s in town, the cityscape is lifted to a vibrant dimen­sion, where art seems to peek-a-boo at passersby. People will encounter art in places they least expect it every­where in the city center – in the streets, shop windows, facades, on the water surface, around the castle or in parks. The great thing is that the artworks are in within 10-minute walking radius from Örebro castle, making the exhi­bi­tion easily acces­sible by foot or bike.

    Every edition, OpenART exhibits about 100 artworks, created by contem­po­rary artists, locally and inter­na­tion­ally known. Iconic creations like BadBad Boy (Tommi Toija, 2013), The Big Yellow Rabbit (Floren­tijn Hofman, 2011), Bunny Project (Conny Bloom, 2009) and Spectacle Agnostico (Kent Karlsson, 2008) have infused small- and large-scale fantasy into the public space, making head­lines in the inter­na­tional media.



    photo; Al Weiwei, Xu Bing, Song dong at OpenART


    In 2015, OpenART show­cases 72 artists who exhibit 130 artworks on more than 70 venues indoors and outdoors.

    OpenART chal­lenges percep­tions of what art is, building bridges between cultures and people, while fostering local and inter­na­tional art dialogue.

    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.

    2008 The Art Gallery organizes the first OpenART
    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.




    2009 OpenART grows

    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.




    2011 A Big Yellow Rabbit

    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.




    2013 Largest Scandinavia

    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 and Konst­främ­jandet Bergslagen.

    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 71 artists from all over the world, OpenART Kids, OpenART Academy, guided tours and special night tours, as well as special events. Almost all OpenART activ­i­ties are free of charge.




    2015 Big focus on Contemporary Chinese Art

    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.


    A few of the Artists


    Åsa Andersson Born 1965 in Stock­holm, Sweden. Lives and works in Stock­holm, Sweden
    From series: The Cherry Blossom Sanatorium – Video, objects, prints/photographs, light.

    The Cherry Blossom Sanatorium is a ‘work in progress’ name for different works presented in art contexts, prose and poetry writing and illustrated talks.

    Artist Statement

    Raking in the autumn, I am stunned by wonder. The start of buds. Silk, wounds of resin. I barely dare to cross the ground.

    Spring. Small protrusions glisten in the wind, falling down towards the source. Down there, in the soil – all these little ghosts. If I touch a blossom, quickly on its way, a pirouette, and then as I said, down. A part of me is also carried down to the source. I actually believe this. All small ghosts live in the soil.

    The Cherry Blossom Sanatorium – the name appears despite the difficulty in pronouncing it. I do not know if it is intended for only blossoms, or if others can be taken in or sign up. Or if the blossoms themselves act as host? I will investigate this. They do also carry a marvellous light.

    In Japan, one can find cherry blossom tea. The petals are dark pink with salt powdered around. The grains have absorbed the spring. My purchased package remains unbroken for a long time. Somebody said the tea tasted like tears.





    Johan Suneson Born 1963 in Västan­fors, Sweden. Lives and works in Malmö, Sweden

    Elephants, Flamingos. The animal sculptures consist of incomplete bodies, where visitors can step in and replace the parts that are missing. In this way one can merge with the animals, and for a moment change his or her perspective. The exotic animals are sculptured in a round style, reminiscent of animated interpretations or soft toys. They constitute a comment on empathizing with things, but they also an association with play.

    Artist Statement

    In art, there is freedom and fantasy. Art is a part of reality. It can be a statement and an invitation. It can arouse the viewer’s memories or lead to speculation. I want my sculptures and paintings to look homemade and strange. I want the viewer to feel that there are different ways of looking at things. It is good if art can remind us that perspectives can and will differ.




    Cecilia Jansson Born 1975 in Lund, Sweden. Lives and works in Örebro, Sweden.

    Now (2015) Video projection (duration 1 hour), sound and ornate plates from prison in a container 6-12 meters depending on space.
    Now is an attempt to transfer the viewers to the corridor under the high security prison in Kumla. The corridor is decorated by artists and inmates, both recently and in the 70ties. The title Now refers to the inmates’ lack of patience that I experienced while working with this decoration project.

    Time moves very slow there. They want things to happen now, not tomorrow, not the next week, but now. One of the reasons could be that they are waiting for so many things already that one more thing feels almost unbearable. The installation shows the everyday life in this long corridor that connects the buildings in the prison. You can look at some of the beautiful art made by the inmates, but if you want action, you have to learn to wait.

    Artist Statement

    My works are dealing with the value of people’s identity. I want to explore what preconceptions and prejudices are hidden in our need to put people in groups. I have made art with, for or about some of the hidden, forgotten or ignored groups in society. I want to make people consider the fact that every group is made of individuals with unique personalities. The need to put labels on people is worth investigating. What is the label good for?




    Photos and text credited to Openart.se and the artists mentioned above.

    Contact claudia.pricop@orebro.se for further information.


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