Åpningen av Bodø2024
The descent down the Bonden peak, I can promise you, is adventurous!
And I am uncertain whether I recommend this route to anyone!
Dear everyone – and especially dear people of Nordland: Congratulations!
Imagine, Norway is once again the host country for a European Capital of Culture – and imagine that it's happening here in Bodø and in Nordland. It’s impressive, and I think it deserves a big applause!
Imagine if culture disappeared. Imagine if visual arts, music, and literature disappeared. Imagine if sculptures, architecture, movies and theater disappeared.
Imagine if opera, ballet, dance, traditional crafts, photography, fashion, fairy tales, sports, design, games and culinary traditions disappeared.
Imagine if ideas, values – yes, imagine if our language disappeared.
Imagine if everything we associate with culture disappeared.
What would we be left with?
Culture forges strong communities. Culture shapes identity, and creates a sense of belonging. Culture builds societies, connects us, and makes us whole human beings.
I believe – no, I know – that culture creates meaningful lives. It's difficult to understand what our lives would be like without culture.
Art is an essential part of culture. Art also creates bonds and gives us identity. But it can do more: It can create resistance and demand critical thinking. Ask us to be critical of what’s familiar, of traditions, of those in power – yes, even of culture itself. It can seek to push boundaries, inspire, and spark creativity.
Great art can change our way of thinking, make us feel something new – something that stays in our minds and remains in our hearts. I am sure we have all experienced art that moved us – perhaps even changed our lives?
All culture is from somewhere. The latin word cultura means to cultivate, and the Nordland soil is rich. My own history of Nordland is long and eventful. It is full of nice and diverse memories and experiences – from countless trips and cultural experiences. I simply feel at home here!
But many times, I have wondered how the descent from some of the region's many high peaks would go. Like when I clung to the wire rope up to Møysalen and wondered how on Earth I would get down – and hoped for a helicopter!
Art is part of the nature in Nordland. When you are up there, on the peaks and look out over the county, you may spot the unique collection of contemporary sculptures in the art project Artscape Nordland. Imagine: 36 sculptures in 33 Nordland municipalities – and one in Troms – created by artists from 18 countries! Many of the works have been created here – in meetings between the landscape and the artists. I was fortunate to open the project in 1992, with the artwork "A new discussion", by the Finnish artist Kain Tapper, on the beautiful Grimsøya in Vega municipality. The sculptures demand something from their viewers: first, you must be both curious and persistent to find the places where the art is located – often off the beaten path. Then you must be open to the artist's thoughts, explore, be receptive to new ideas, and take the time to understand the artist's intention.
But it's not just this particular project. In Nordland, art sneaks into nature in so many ways and becomes part of the identity, the community, and everyday life: The blacksmith in Sund creates birds in iron and beautiful modern sculptures, the glassblowers in Lofoten incorporate nature into their materials and works, the painter captures the waves and the mountains, and the songwriter describes the bright summer nights. Like Hamsun did in "Pan" – where Lieutenant Glahn wanders in the "eternal day of the Nordland summer."
I have, as you probably understand, also wandered a lot in the Nordland summer – and in the autumn, winter, and spring. I find it exciting that Bodø2024, together with the Norwegian Trekking Association and the local hiking associations, has established the unique project European Cabins of Culture, with the goal of creating performances, experiences, and arts encounters at mountain huts and other hiking destinations.
"Bringing people together is a really good thing to do," they wrote when applying for the status as European Capital of Culture. What a beautiful thought! You invite us all to create rich and beautiful communities – in a time when meeting each other is more important than ever.
Finally, I would like to add – and these are my very personal experiences – that all this probably would not have been realised without the special nature of the people of Nordland: The “Nordlending” is creative, humorous and brave. Enduring, self-ironic, ambitious, and compassionate.
Tough, powerful, direct, and engaged. And a bit skeptical of the southern Norwegians.
Friendly, open-hearted, generous, and hospitable.
And that's why I come back, again and again. Now I look forward to a whole year of art and culture in Nordland.
And we hope that this extreme weather Ingunn does not cause more damage to properties and homes than it already has. And that those who have been afraid and uncertain can return to a more normal everyday life
Finally: Dear all, who have worked so long to realise this fantastic cultural project: Well done! And now it begins.
And with this, I declare Bodø2024 - European Capital of Culture - opened!