SPAR – Early ideas and perspectives

Some thoughts about the work

As pointed out above, the project already stands on some foundation in terms of photographic materials, structure and connection with China’s BRI.

Staying for an extended period of time in China, and travelling around, of course opens huge new vistas. Being in China, creating new images on the go, learning on site from Chinese art history and techniques, integrating one’s own materials with whatever new (also non-photo, multimedia) that comes by during such a stay and perhaps encountering people with compatible interests and co-create something – well, it would be beyond words overwhelming, intense and stimulate my “high-temperature” production.

It would probably lead to the creation of works also beyond what could be shown at Palazzo Mora.

And, furthermore, this 2018-2019 project could turn out to be just a beginning and be extended into the future beyond 2019. It will depend on what develops and the experimenting process by its very nature causes ideas about the final result at this point to be rather vague and adaptable as time goes by.

But in principle, at the moment I see limitless possibilities – while, of course, there are limitations to take into account.

One such limitation is the price of the wall space at Palazzo Mora and the funding to pay for it (see below). Secondly, there is the transport from Shanghai to Venice of whatever works may result (types of materials, size, fragility, material flexibility).

It’s difficult to imagine the form of presentation at Mora in Venice, but it could be one large collage-like work stitched together in up to, say, 4 x 3 meter. It could also adapt to a Chinese presentation form such as a series of vertical or horizontal scrolls – or other forms and combinations.

In my thinking at this early stage, one inspirational model would be one of my favourite artists, Robert Rauschenberg’s ROCI – Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (no comparison otherwise) that he conducted with colleagues 1985-1990: working together with people where you are and let your works be heavily influenced by the local historic, aesthetics and materials.

Another would be Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie whose multi-media production and “Total Art” philosophy appeals a lot to me.

A third source of inspiration would be all the artists, academies, galleries and museums that I will bne acquainted with during my China travels on October-November.

Exploring relations

Buddhist thinking is more about both/and than the Western/Occidental either/or. I like holism and diverse perspectives, even eclecticism.

This project is about:
• art and peace or, perhaps rather, peace in art and art in peace; we have too many images of violence and too few of what peace could be;
• the emerging world order, Old and New Silk Road (history in the future, future in history) and, thus about reality and imagination;
• interactions of cultures and expressions – thus various kinds of co-operation and co-creation;
• art and documentary photography’s interaction with other media – and while I know how to print on canvas and fine arts papers (and sometimes metals), it may provide an opportunity to also explore – why not? – silk, paint and print on it.

And the road is the connecting metaphor but it doesn’t have to be a straight line from A to B – it can also be curvy like Brice Marden’s brush strokes (see work at the end) or more like three-dimensional, or taking inspiration (as mentioned) from Rauschenberg’s eclecticist ‘combines’ and Zhijie’s total art approach. There are many roads.

A synergy between two lives

Through my life, I’ve grappled with art and with peace.

Life # 1 – Art photo
Born in 1951, I grew up with art since my industrialist father, F W Oberg (1913-1981) was also one of Denmark’s pioneering collectors and gallerists (Ars Studeo in Aarhus and Copenhagen) with a focus on contemporary European and American artists like Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Motherwell, Stella, Johns, Hockney, Hamilton, Jones, Kitaj, Paolozzi, etc. (and Cobra’s Danish Asger Jorn and other leading Danish artists).

As a high-school student, I worked as his secretary, translator and assistant in his gallery, corresponded with printers, artists and galleries and arranged exhibitions under his direction.

That was my early art education and ever since I’ve ploughed through museums, galleries and art fairs and cared well for what I inherited. In 2009, I set up Oberg PhotoGraphics as a more sustained activity for my own photography endeavours with a studio where I work with and print my own works, arrange exhibitions and host a Culture Salon for locally interested people.

Life # 2 – Peacemaker
I got a PhD in sociology with a specialization in peace and conflict research in 1981, directed the Lund University Peace Research Institute, LUPRI 1983-89 and, since the department was closed down, have lived a freelance life as a) visiting professor/lecturer, among others, Japan (5 times), Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland; b) conflict analyst and mediator in conflict/war zones such as Somalia, Yugoslavia, Georgia, Iraq, Burundi and, lately, Iran and Syria and c) author, columnist and media commentator. More about me on my personal blog.

The private, independent Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research, TFF, that my wife, Dr Christina Spannar, and I established in 1986, is an independent, people-financed think tank devoted to the UN Charter norm that “peace shall be established by peaceful means” (article 1) and that war shall be abolished (the Preamble).

It rests on a basically Gandhian philosophy. It’s a network of some 60 experts and one of the most prolific and sustained peace research think tanks the production of which can be studied at The Transnational.

I perceive this Silk ArtPeace Road project as an opportunity to bring my two “lives” together and create synergy for the common good of the collaborators along the Road as well as the spectators in Venice and wherever else its results may be shown afterwards. The TFF Board has accepted this as an integral part of its program.

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