The art and fashion festival Uncontaminated is held for the second time in Oslo this week, with guests coming from all over the world.
One of the most inspiring and, I have to say, unexpected cultural experiences I had last year was the art and fashion festival Uncontaminated in Oslo. It seemed to appear from out of nowhere, initiated by a couple of enthusiasts who had lived in the US and France and returned home with a desire to initiate a real conversation about fashion, art and media in Norway. This year Hilde Pettersen Reljin and Rita Mostrøm Larsen are back with an equally ambitious program, without public funding, I might ad, which is rare in this country. Their partners include Canon, Microsoft and architectural firm Snøhetta, not to mention the Oslo boroughs of Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge. In fact one of the best things about last year’s festival was how it seemed to transform these neighbourhoods, which are usually associated with upmarket shopping and expensive sea-view apartments. But there we were, riding the elevator up from a shopping mall in Aker Brygge, suddenly finding ourself in a downbeat loft in the middle of an exhibition. It felt like being in a different city, or at least a different part of this city.
The Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard headlines the festival, accompanied by one of his collaborators, the artist and hairdresser Bob Recine. But to be honest: The really exciting part is the people that are probably new to most Norwegians (including me). Several of them will participate in a series of talks on Friday, where the topics include the future of fashion magazines and the digitalisation of art (a repetition of last years themes, but with new people). Elise By Olsen, the young Norwegian editor of Recens Paper will head up a conversation about adolescence in relation to the documentary film All This Panic by Jenny Gage and Tom Betterton, which will also be shown during the festival. Ad 13 pop up-shows on the opening day, and you have a pretty packed agenda.
One of the highlights in the program is the collective exhibition on Friday, where a handful of international photographers come to Oslo to show their work. Many of them have worked their way through the pages of well known fashion magazines – Another Magazine, ID, Dazed & Confused, Vogue – not to mention the campaigns of several international brands and designers. In Oslo, however, the work they are bringing with them is a lot more personal.
The photographers come from all over, like 23 year old Lea Colombo from South Africa who has been embraced by the fashion press in Paris, the Ukrainian duo Synchrodogs who were discovered by clothing retailer Urban Outfitters on Facebook and Spanish Isabella Martínez who works in an advertising agency in Barcelona and now has 700,000 fans on Instagram. Add Canadian-Hungarian Petra Collins and Americans Amanda Charchain, Arielle Chiara and Charlie Engman, and you have a pretty varied list of emerging artists working in the borderlands between art and fashion. Which is precisely where the festival is steering the conversation . Let’s make sure we keep it going.