Gentle Actions explored inclusive and collaborative ways of working interdisciplinary with an ecological approach to environmental issues, and finding new methods to investigate the complexity and breadth of our environmental crisis from a cultural perspective. In this way Gentle Actions was a living and active connector between theory and practice and between material and non-material production that created an arena for ecological thinking beyond the conventional framework. The exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience was integral to the project. Gentle Actions inspired people from different professions and backgrounds to connect across disciplines and boundaries and gathered people engaged in social transformation within the arts, culture, humanities, social and nature based academia together with cultural activists and an actively engaged public. It was an interactive and collaborative platform that included 10 different art-projects, dialogues and lectures, various presentations, workshops and discussions. Oslo Dokumentarkino curated and showed an extensive film program including 53 documentary films. The gallery Kunstnernes Hus had extended opening hours throughout the project period. The majority of the artprojects were located on the 1st floor. All the spaces in the gallery were being used for the various parts of Gentle Actions.
The “kick off” for Gentle Actions was in the summer of 2010 when we established The Artists Garden. This project transformed the formal lawn in front of the gallery Kunstnernes Hus into a lush and visually stimulating vegetable- and herb-garden. The garden functioned as an engaging and stimulating taster for Gentle Actions, with different workshops throughout the summer. The vegetables and herbs were harvested to create a meal for the opening night on the 23rd of October.
The Opening Weekend consisted of an international seminar on art and ecology, and related workshops the following day. Both days were fully subscribed.
The documentation room was situated on the ground floor of the gallery and was integral to the concept. Here the public had access to information about environmental art in an historical an contemporary context through a display curated by the art-historian Nina Sundbäck-Arnes Kaasa. Important videoworks, and a comprehensive selection of literature selected by over 50 participants, was also available. The room was very well frequented, and the table of books with its casual seating was a popular place to hang out. In this room we chose to exhibit the Oslo Reef – a large, crochet coral reef collectively handmade by many different contributors.
The filmprogram contained three films a day included several Norwegian premieres. The program was curated by Oslo Dokumentarkino (Oslo documentary cinema) and constituted of films with an engaging and critical view on environmental issues. Both the documentation room and the film room provided important and basic knowledge and inspiration that supported the project as a whole.
The curators (Anne Karin Jortveit and myself) had an open office throughout the project period. It provided an informal meeting place for the participants and the public. Anyone could enter to ask questions or leave comments and many fruitful discussions took place here.
Den Kulturelle Skolesekken workshops (The Cultural Rucksack is a national programme for art and culture provided by professionals in Norwegian schools. The programme helps school pupils to become acquainted with all kinds of professional art and cultural expressions.) were all fully subscribed with very good response from the pupils and teachers. The gallery´s own scheme for children, Minihuset, was also very popular with several workshops throughout.
Fretex (Salvation Army) lent us second hand furniture, cups and glasses for the project. All the items were for sale and the profit was in aid of Fretex.
The calculations from Kunstnernes Hus showed that Gentle Actions were visited by around 5000 people. This number is well above most of their other exhibitions in the last ten years (except the popular annual show “Autumn salon”)