As part of the fellowship, the Academy had given me room 611 in Handelsbygningen as a work space. The building is centrally located in Oslo, facing the Nobel Institute and the American Embassy. It felt in many ways like an archetypical loft studio space; an elongated room with a door, two windows and a skylight facing the north. The studio measured 3,6 m across, approximately 6 m from the door to the windows and 5,5 m from the floor up to the top of the skylight. This was one of ten studios that the Academy acquired in 1919 through private donations. In 1930, the school moved into the new and more spacious studios at Kunstnernes Hus.(4] The studios in Handelsbygningen were then gradually converted into working spaces for graduate students.
When I returned to Oslo in the fall of 2010, I learned that Handelsbygningen was in the process of being sold. It would later become clear that the Academy would be forced to renounce their studios due to a minority position in the stock company that owned the building. With the pending sale, I approached architect Todd Saunders with the idea of building a mobile outdoor studio based on the interior dimensions of my studio in Oslo. Saunders recommended that I contact Mats Odin Røstøy (Mor & Mar Architects), a Norwegian carpenter and architect who had been working with him on earlier projects. This proved a good match. At the beginning of the New Year we started building Winterstudio in sandwich modules of plywood and polystyrene at the Academy in Oslo. This would make the studio insulated and each piece light enough to carry. The studio was first shown at Henie Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden outside Oslo. Here it stayed for approximately three months before it was moved to Jeløya as part of my participation in the 6th Momentum Biennial.
Winterstudio was an attempt to think about ways of taking experiences from my previous travels and collecting them in one structure. By keeping the architectural constraints more or less constant, I could continue my journey using the studio as a fixed location for observation. Exposing the studio to the outside, would in turn highlight the potential loss of the Academy’s autonomous studio spaces in Handelsbygningen and hopefully raise awareness about their historic and contemporary importance and the on-going gentrification.
The idea behind Winterstudio was essentially to move the air within the four studio walls to a new location. Winterstudio would depict the absence of space just like place in painting depicts the absence of place in that it refers to something outside itself and provides a stand-in for the place where it is displayed. By mimicking these ambivalent inside/outside characteristics in the workplace itself, I hoped to elicit a new mode of thinking about paintings whereabouts.
To physically achieve this I would use the shape of room 611 as a readymade for my work. By taking the inside measurements of the studio, I could use it as a predefined mold for the outside dimensions of the new structure. The dimensions that previously used to represent an interior wall would not correspond to an exterior wall in the new structure. This meant that when outside Winterstudio one would actually be looking at an interior space. This in turn produced a question as to the status of its interior space.
With this new freestanding construction, one could walk around the periphery of the studio and get a physical sense of its presence, which had not been possible before. To play on the ambivalent inside/outside relationship in the building, I installed two entrance doors; one open to the inside, the other to the outside. This also had a practical aspect as it would allow me to choose a level of privacy. Leaving one door open suggested my presence. The other door could then be closed to retain heat.
Having the studio exposed and open to the public proved a more vulnerable position than first anticipated. I was prepared for visitors, but often people would walk around the building and not dare to come inside. This uncomfortable situation of being watched, was not particularly productive for my concentration in the painting process.