Monday, September 5, 2016

Oslo - ten centuries or so of Norway

It was a very full day: starting with standing on the quayside, wondering what to do ... (no, not really.  I was contemplating the arrival of a large German cruise ship, discharging its occupants - who were ALL members of a Full Metal Cruise (i.e. heavy metal), and dressed accordingly ...).  Then to the Opera House, which didn't wow me as much as I'd expected with its tiled sloping roofs and walkways, but which was nonetheless compelling, not least for She Lies, Monica Bonvicini's 2007 3'D interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich's The Sea of Ice (I'd like to see this in winter, too, with ice stretching out to it...).

Next, a boat to Bygdønes, a peninsula which has spectacular late C19th houses on it (with Teslas charging up outside them), and the Folk Art Museum - established in 1894, at a time of nationalist enthusiasm, it's Europe's largest, with over 150 buildings dotted around, making a landscape that looks like idyllic late C19th painting come to life ... including the Gol stave church;

many, many old farm buildings (and pigs, rabbits, hens, cows ...);

some extraordinary wooden houses, with carvings;

a handful of interpreters, telling one in an informed way about certain buildings that one goes into - and doing suitable things, like playing the Norwegian fiddle;

After that, the Viking boat museum - these boats were huge, and beautiful.

And then boat, then tram, to Viegelandsparken - the park decorated with many, many very strange statues by Gustav Vigeland - mostly from the 1920s.  They were overwhelming - either side of a long bridge; clustered round a fountain; heaped up in a column of writhing bodies.  They represent all ages of men and women and children - perhaps with an emphasis on men.  They're all naked.  Some of them are having fun; some are not being kind to one another.  Doubtless there are many monographs written on Vigeland, and he was lodged somewhere in my consciousness since I knew I wanted to see this park, but I'm still in state of shock.

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