Norwegian culture captivates Slovaks

NORWAY’S embassy continues to satiate Slovaks’ thirst for Norwegian culture by organising and promoting a broad range of events and performances showcasing its films, literature, musical talent and much more.

NORWAY’S embassy continues to satiate Slovaks’ thirst for Norwegian culture by organising and promoting a broad range of events and performances showcasing its films, literature, musical talent and much more.

This year one of the biggest events was the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution, which was celebrated at the Museum of the Slovak Village in Martin, and featured an exhibition and a concert of traditional Norwegian songs performed by soprano Karen Rosenberg Olsen with Ismene Weiss on violin and Hardanger fiddle. Yet, this was but one of many events this year organised around the country.

“We are glad to say that there is a very good cooperation between Norwegian and Slovak cultural environments,” Rannveig Skofteland, Deputy Head of Mission of the Norwegian Embassy to Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator.

“The main key for selection is the quality of the application and the project, whether the projects fit in with Norwegian priorities in the cultural field and, of course, the interest of Slovak society. We registered an especially growing interest in Norwegian architecture, design and literature,” the embassy noted, specifying that Norwegian authors such as Erlend Loe, Anne Holt and Jo Nesbo are widely translated into Slovak and are very popular among Slovak readers. The Norwegian Ambassador had the honour of doing the ceremonial baptism to launch a translation of Jo Nesbo’s book Police last autumn.

There is also much interest in Norwegian films. Slovak viewers had a chance to see a selection of Scandinavian films at the Košice film festival and at the Nordfest 2014 this spring, including a movie of the unique exhibition of works by Edward Munch in Oslo. A Norwegian film was also awarded Special Mention at the Art Film Fest in Trenčianske Teplice.

Furthermore, the Slovak audience had a chance to enjoy different genres of Norwegian music from classical, with the Ars Organi festival in Nitra, to jazz and popular music. The Slovak Philharmonic hosted two Norwegian musicians at the beginning of 2014: violinist Catharina Chen and pianist Ole Christian Haagenrud.

“A Norwegian designer is participating at Bratislava Design Week,” Skofteland informed. “Bjorn Jorund Blikstad’s innovative storage system is being displayed as part of the exhibition Work is All Around in the Old Town.”

Košice had its big moment in 2013, when it took its turn as the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) and became a Slovak hub for international events. Norway participated in the opening ceremony of ECOC Košice 2013 with visual artist Stig Skjelvik and the Snohetta architects, who presented the project Strommer: an interactive LED light wall installed at the Museum of Vojtech Löffler. Guitarist Eivind Aarset enhanced the local cultural offer with a performance and a workshop.

So far so good. But what will the rest of 2014 bring in terms of Norwegian culture?

“We are continuing the celebration of the important bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution this year,” the deputy head of mission answered. “We have already organised a poster exhibition called 1814 – The Year of Miracles in the Primate’s Palace in Bratislava. There is a Norwegian Day planned for the students of Nordic languages at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in October, where there will be a debate with translators of literature, a poster exhibition, students reciting their work, screenings of films, and the embassy will have a reception for the students and friends of Norway.”

Later this year, a seafood festival in Bratislava’s Carlton Hotel is planned which will combine gastronomy and culture. “This time we plan to focus on salmon, as we believe that even though most Slovaks already enjoy salmon quite often, there is still a lot of potential to increase the popularity of this healthy and tasty fish,” Skofteland said.

The embassy is also supporting a literature and travel event at the Ice Bar in Bratislava, organised by the Bubo travel agency, promoting the translation of Nesbo’s books and Norway as a popular travel destination.

“Later this autumn, we hope to organise another Norway Day in Žiar nad Hronom,” Skofteland said, adding that this would be continuation of last year’s event, which consisted of a seminar for three local Norwegian companies, as well as an event for the public. “We served Norwegian food, presented Norwegian music, organised games for children and had a very enjoyable day with the people in Žiar.”

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