Nordic art is blowing up in a big, digital way. Björk's psychedelic, magma-filled music video "Mutual Core" played on the 15 largest screens in Times Square every midnight in March, and that was only the beginning. From March 31 to April 6, the Streaming Museum will present the rest of "Nordic Outbreak," an exhibition of outdoor moving images—some shown at scheduled times, some popping up as surprises—throughout the city, and a symposium at the Scandinavia House (RSVP here).
Why bring the Nordic to New York? According to curator Tanya Toft, "The momentum here around the art and technology fields is really strong now. The inspiration for this is definitely born out of New York."
But there's more to "Outbreak" than geographic displacement. "There's also an outbreak in the exhibition's structure—an outbreak from the traditional gallery format," Toft points out. Compared to the rows of "white cubes" in Chelsea, the exhibition is sprawling: screenings take place everywhere from the Bowery to midtown's Dag Hammarksjold Plaza to the Manhattan Bridge Archway.
A self-described "Scandinavian in New York," Toft also hopes for the exhibition to break from the "orderly" quality of Nordic culture. "There's a sense of politeness and perfection," she says. "What if you fail when you stick to this orderliness? You might not fit in anymore." In curating "Outbreak," Toft "wanted to show another face of the Nordic, putting forth works that are honest and self-reflective." One such subversive work is Magnus Sigurdarson's 1001 Dreams of Occupation, which references the Occupy movement. In the film, a man jumps up and down with a sign that reads "Occupy My Innocence." Toft explains, "This is a symptom of this very orderly Nordic society, and of breaking out of that."
Toft is a Ph.D. fellow at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies at Copenhagen University. Her life story hints at a personal outbreak, too: Though she grew up in the Danish countryside removed from most new media, her work focuses on digital presences in urban environments.
NORDIC OUTBREAK WILL TAKE PLACE FROM MARCH 31 THROUGH APRIL 6. VISIT THE STREAMING MUSEUM'S WEBSITE FOR DETAILS ON EVENTS.