My entry into Scandinavia on this trip was met with two different credit cards being compromised. My beloved Charles Schwab debit card and my Citicard AA Skymiles card. Luckily I managed to pull $500 out of my Schwab account in Oslo the night I arrived before they canceled the card. Everything should work out fine though. It’s just a pain in the neck, and one of the very reasons I travel with two debit and one credit card. I would be in a mess otherwise. Although I’m sure I could have had some money wired to a local bank if push came to shove.
Saga Hotel Oslo Central – Super comfy well located more hotel than hostel.
NATA’S FROM PORTUGAL AT A BAKERY ACROSS THE STREET
NORWEGIAN NATIONAL OPERA & BALLET
Monica BONIVICINI – She Lies
The sculpture turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind. This permanent installation offers changing perceptions through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.
FISHING FOR DINNER
A statue honoring Norwegian marines through the ages.
SCANDINAVIAN STAR – The passenger vessel “Scandinavian Star” was set on fire the night of April 7th. 1990. This is a memorial for the 159 people who died in the disaster. The mother’s hair resembles flames as she pulls her young son who is reaching for his lost teddy bear. The bronze plaque in the background bears the names of those who perished.
OSLO CITY HALL
This waterfront area has fast food and ice cream stalls on the right and fine dining on the left. There is a Swiss brand of ice cream called Movenpick that is amazing if you see it.
OLD TOWN AREA
Back to the hotel to change for the cruise.
JOHANNA – The vessel that will take us on a three-hour jazz tour of the harbor and neighboring fjords.
JOHANNA – JAZZ CRUISE BOAT
Sounded just like we were in New Orleans. An hour later they broke out the bread, butter, mayo, lemon, and all the peel and eat shrimp your heart desired. So we all had our Scandinavian shrimp sandwiches as we listened to Jazz and soaked up the scenery. I was surprised there were barely any tourists aboard. It was mostly me and the Norwegians on the cruise.
These Scandinavians sure know how to do chapels.
SOARING TRASH VULTURE – Looking for leftover shrimp I suspect.
Playing us back to port with a rousing rendition of “When The Saints Come Marching In”.
Now, I’m a big fan of scuba diving so I was thrilled to find this statue staring out into the harbor. Not that I would dive in their cold waters, but I dig the sentiment just the same.
Day Trip to Drøbak
Way to go, mom! Couldn’t resist this shot on the way to the bus station.
DRØBUK TOWN SQUARE
THE DRØBAK CHURCH – 1776 – As old as America
BACK IN OSLO
KARL JOHANS GATE – Oslo’s Main Street
A man and his boy let it rip while spending some quality time on the accordion. People were constantly tossing money their way as they witnessed this irresistible family duo.
A HAPPY CHAPPIE
Three Hour – Three Art Museumathon
ASTRUP FEARNLEY MUSEET
NO COMMENT NECESSARY
Alex ISRAEL – Lens – 2015
Alex ISRAEL – Self Portrait (Surf Shop) – 2016
Damien HIRST – Mother and Child (Divided) – 1993
Damien HIRST – God Only Knows – 2007
In this work from the Natural History series, we encounter Christianity’s crucifixion motif combined with the scientific preservation of animal specimens in formaldehyde-filled tanks staged with a symbolic animal.
Ida EKBLAD – Political Song for Jessica Simpson to Sing – 2007
This one I really like.
Ida Ekblad’s artistic practice has developed from recirculation of imagery from the internet and popular culture to material-oriented expressionism with a performative aspect.
The work “Political Song for Jessica Simpson to Sing” consists of an enlarged picture of the young pop idol copied from a 2005 GQ Magazine cover. Simpson wears a “stars and stripes” bikini, unzipped camouflage trousers and a military dog tag hanging around her neck. Ekblad attacks this type of banal, stereotypical picture of American patriotism, which burgeoned in the wake of the Iraq war and the global war on terrorism, by using an equally banal language: she sticks a wad of pink bubblegum on Simpson’s right eye. It’s an obvious comment on how phenomena in our world are so quickly ingested and then spit out.
I would also offer that it emphasizes what a vapid, clueless twit Jessica Simpson really is.
Christopher WOOL – Head – 1992
Jeff KOONS – Michael Jackson and Bubbles – 1988
A key feature of the art of Jeff Koons is a renewed interest in the taste and aesthetics of the American middle class. In this sculpture, Michael Jackson is portrayed as a gigantic, baroque knick-knack figure in white and gilded porcelain – a material that has plummeted in the hierarchy of taste from aristocratic to kitschy. By depicting the pop star as a modern icon, he is addressing the surrealistic aspect of our celebrity-obsessed culture. Koons thus challenges both our prejudices and the very concept of art itself.
Jackson is seen here with “Bubbles the Chimp”, one of the many props he used to lure children into God only knows what kind of unseemly and damaging horrors.
Anselm KIEFER – Barren Landscape – 1989
The undulating facade dominating the left-hand side of the painting belongs to the Copam Building in Sao Paolo, Brazil – a building designed by the modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer. Niemeyer planned Brasilia, a utopian project, during a period of staunch belief in technology and progress. The motif of the painting stands as a symbol of the failed project of modernism; here utopia is replaced by dystopia. It represents the brutal and alienating nature of industrial society, in one of the largest and most polluted cities in the world. Symbols of death, suicide, disintegration, and disaster characterize the work.
Knut ROSE – I kulturlandskap – 1979
Rose presents the viewer with menacing internal and external emotions. The figure in the motif might personify our own anxiety and feeling of alienation when confronted with a natural landscape that is increasingly controlled by technology.
NATIONAL MUSEUM – Museum of Contemporary Art
Not much to see here, but the two national museums I visited were free today.
Mario MERZ – Igloos
Louise BOURGEOIS – Avenza Revisited II – 1969
BEST WESTERN HOTEL!
National Museum – National Gallery
Ana-Eva BERGMAN – Composition – 1951
Pablo PICASSO – Guitar – 1912
Pablo PICASSO – Still Life – 1927
Auguste Renoir – After the Bath
Jean HEIBERG – Boy from the North of Norway – 1910
Jens Ferdinand WILLUMSEN – After the Tempest – 1905
Nikolai ASTRUP – Spring Evening in Jølster
Harald SOHLBERG – Street in Røros in Winter
Hanna PAULI – The Princess – 1896
Edvard MUNCH – Winter on the Fjord – 1915
Edvard MUNCH – Rue Lafayette – 1891
How many hours have I spent running the gamut of selfie hounds just waiting for them to clear off so I can capture a shot unimpeded by their narcissistic pursuits? Munch’s “The Scream”, in the background, captures my frustration to a tee. Seriously, what does a masterpiece gain with the insertion of someone’s mug no matter how attractive it might be? This is why you don’t see me in front of art.
Edvard MUNCH – The Scream – 1893
Walking to Maritime Museums
AIDA DIVA – Diva Ship
Oslo is just filled with good sculpture and waterscaping.
The Viking Ship Museum
THE OSEBERG SHIP
The Oseberg Ship was found in a large burial mound on the Oseberg Farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1904. The ship was built sometime between 815 – 820AD but was later used as a grave ship for a woman of high rank who died in 834AD. The woman had been placed in a wooden burial chamber on the aft deck of the ship.
The burial mound was constructed of layers of turf which preserved both the ship and its rich contents of wooden objects, leather, and textiles. The burial mound was plundered by grave robbers in ancient times which is probably the reason that no jewelry, gold or silver objects were found at the site.
The 22-meter long ship was built of oak. The number of oar holes indicates that the ship was rowed by a crew of 30 men. The ship had no seats, and the oarsmen probably sat on their own wooden ship’s chests. The oars could be drawn in when the square sail was raised. The steering rudder was placed on the starboard aft side of the ship. The Oseberg is less solidly constructed than the Gokstad ship. Only the upper two rows of side planking extend above the water line. It was probably a royal pleasure craft used for short journeys in calm waters.
OARS & OAR HOLES
1904 EXCAVATION OF THE OSEBERG SHIP
The Gokstad ship was found in a large burial mound on the Gokstad Farm in Vestfold and excavated in 1880. It was built around 890AD and later used as a grave ship for a Viking chieftain. The body lay in a chamber built of horizontal timber logs.
The Gokstad Ship burial site was plundered by grave robbers in ancient times who probably removed all of the items of gold and silver.
The Gokstad this is 24 meters long with room for 32 oarsmen. It is the largest of the Viking ships on display and the most robust. Compared with the Osberg ship, we see the keel and the keelson are larger and more solidly constructed, the side planking higher, and that, when sailing, the oar holes could be closed and sealed using wooden flaps. During excavation, archaeologists found the remains of 64 shields which had been attached to the outside railings. While the Osberg ship was a luxury pleasure craft, the Gokstad was a sturdy and practical vessel, capable of sailing the high seas.
BOATS FROM THE GOKSTAD SHIP
A Journey Headed for Doom and Destruction
In the spring of 1947, six men embarked on an expedition with all odds against them Their vessel had never been tested, and it had several potentially dangerous flaws. The theory claiming that the expedition was safe was considered controversial at best. If anything went wrong, the crew would be drifting helplessly in some of the world’s most turbulent waters, beyond help of any kind. The leader, 33-year old Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl, suffered from severe hydrophobia, had minimal swimming skills, and had no experience as a sailor whatsoever.
This is the story about him, and why he and five other men succeeded on a journey, which most experts had predicted would end in failure and certain death.
BOXED SUPPLIES STACKED ON DECK
TWO STRONGBOXES PROTECT A VARIETY OF EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
BREAKFAST, A TYPEWRITER, AND A RADIO.
A Theory Born Out of Opposition
In the spring of 1946, Thor Heyerdahl traveled to New York to present his radical theory written up as Polynesia and America. A study of Prehistoric Relations. He had spent ten years writing this thesis and found what he regarded as conclusive evidence: the South American myth of Con-Tiki Viracocha, a pre- Incan Indian chief who had lived in Peru; been driven off after losing a battle, and escaping off into the sunset on a raft made of balsa-wood.
Thor was met with massive opposition. No one would take him seriously-they would not even read the thesis. As time went by, his personal funds were depleted and the list of authorities he could present his work to grew shorter. One alternative became increasingly clearer: To prove that it was possible to drift with the Humboldt Current from South America to Polynesia on a raft made of balsa-wood, he would have to do it himself.
He did not know it then, but he had just introduced the concept of maritime experimental archaeology.
A Theory Comes to Life
Immediately after he made his decision, Thor began to organize the expedition. He needed a crew, all the equipment they would need for 100 days at sea, and, last but not least, the raft on which the expedition was based. In addition, he had to have everything in place in a few short months. If not, the expedition would have to be postponed a year.
At this point, Heyerdahl’s organizing skills appeared in earnest. Through his personal contacts, he was able to come in contact with high-ranking officers in the US Navy, who gave him access to everything from sleeping bags, field rations, sun lotion, and canned food to navigation instruments and radios. An interesting fact is that Heyerdahl also obtained a special permit from the Norwegian army enabling crew member Knut Haugland to attend meetings in full uniform. The reason was quite obvious: Haugland had participated in the sabotage raid on the heavy-water plant in Rjukan, Norway. The raid kept Hitler from obtaining nuclear weapons, and Haugland was Norway’s most decorated soldier during World War II. This gave the Kon-Tiki expedition an extra dimension of flair and bravado in the eyes of the Americans.
Thor the Lumberjack
The quest for balsa wood was an adventure in its own right. The Incan Indians had obtained their balsa logs in Ecuador, and Heyerdahl wanted to do the same. The problem was that all the trees growing near the coast had been cut down during World War II, and the only trees large enough for the job grew inland across mountains and jungles. There were no access roads, and one of the world’s worst monsoon-seasons was just around the corner. Everyone they talked to said exactly the same thing: It would be extremely difficult to travel to where the balsa trees grew, and impossible to get them out. Once again, Heyerdahl decided to defy reason, and in the company of crewmember Herman Watzinger, he traveled deep into the jungle amongst scorpions, snakes, and headhunters.
Watzinger was bitten by a scorpion-ant and suffered a serious reaction to the venom. Even so, the two men still managed to cut down 9 balsa giants, removed the bark from the logs in the local Indian manner, and floated the logs downriver to the coast.
A Meeting with the President
By early 1947, they had everything they needed to assemble the raft, which was designed based on classic Inca rafts with a number of Watzinger’s personal modifications. The last piece of the puzzle was finding a place to build it. Once again, Heyerdahl, thanks to a mix of personal contacts and sheer persuasion, managed the “impossible”: an audience with the president of Peru, Bustamante Riviero. This was a man most Peruvians did not even get to see on film. With the help of a translator, Thor explained his theory and the president’s response was crystal clear: If the islands in the Pacific were inhabited by people from Peru, it was in the nation’s best interest to prove it. The crew was given immediate access to the naval base in Lima’s harbor city of Callao, with unlimited access to all of the workshop’s, tools, and machinery. Mere weeks stood between Thor and the idea he had carried with him for more than ten years.
The Men Onboard Kon-Tiki
The method by which Heyerdahl selected his crewmembers says a lot about his skills as a leader. His choices were based on everything from lifelong relations to sheer gut feeling; He had known Erik Hesselberg his whole life, while he had known Bengt Danielsson only a couple of hours. Still, it’s evident that Thor sought and found men of a special breed. The crew on the Kon-Tiki became a closely knit “band of brothers,” each one with skills and knowledge vital for the expedition.
Thor Heyerdahl was born in Larvik, Norway in 1914. He described an overprotected childhood. Few things indicated that he would become one of the most important mariners of our times. Quite the opposite – an experience of near death-by-drowning as a child left him with something resembling hydrophobia and it is somewhat astounding, but he did not learn to swim properly before he sailed out on the Kon-Tiki. His wanderlust appeared at an early age, and his strong curiosity was one of his defining characteristics throughout his life. However, his resourcefulness, charisma, and guts were what made him one of the twentieth century’s most important explorers.
Heyerdahl and Watzinger met by sheer coincidence in New York. Watzinger was an engineer specializing in hydrology and thermodynamics and had come to the US to study freezing technology. Watzinger asked Heyerdahl if he could be part of the Kon-Tiki crew, and Heyerdahl immediately agreed. Neither of them had any knowledge of the ocean. Watzinger became second in command. A true athlete, he avoided near death several times due to his great physical strength.
Hesselberg was a close childhood friend of Heyerdahl and a companion on a number of hiking trips in the Norwegian wilderness. Hesselberg had studied to be a boatman and had five years experience in the commercial fleet. He was the only crew member with actual experience as a sailor and as such, he became the expedition’s navigator. He was also the expedition’s jester, storyteller, and singer.
Knut Magne Haugland
Watzinger had told Heyerdahl that the expedition would need radio support, and he immediately knew the person to contact. Knut M. Haugland had participated in the sabotage raid on the heavy water plant in Rjukan in 1943, and was decorated by the British King; he was a war hero in every sense of the word. By surviving a number of extreme ordeals during the war, Haugland had shown bravery almost beyond belief, making him a perfect candidate for the trip.
A man of the “same stock” as Haugland, Raaby was a radio expert who had spent several months under extreme conditions behind enemy lines during World War II. Raaby had sent the allied command crucial information about the German battleship Tirpitz by “hot-wiring” his radio to a German officer’s antenna at night. Actions like that demand a particular state of mind.
Danielsson literally drifted into the Kon-Tiki adventure. He had just concluded a Swedish-Finnish expedition into the Amazon jungle, and when the other members returned home, Danielsson decided to keep paddling his canoe downriver, eventually ending up in Lima. He sought out Heyerdahl and asked if he could join the crew. Danielsson worked as a scientist at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and had an academic interest in the Kon-Tiki expedition. He became the sixth and final member of the crew and was the only one who spoke Spanish.
THE MEN OF KON-TIKI – THEY WERE LATTER DAY VIKINGS WITH GRIT
FLYING FISH BREAKFAST
MODEL OF THE KON-TIKI- Made by Knut M. Haugland during the expedition.
KNUT M. HAUGLAND’S WATER BOTTLE
KONTIKI’S DUTY ROSTER
To Paradise and Back
A tropical island is everyone’s paradise, but after 101 days on a raft, it must have been a slice of heaven. After letting the world know they had reached land safe and sound, the crew got one week to themselves. Then they were discovered by the inhabitants of a small island close by, and after that everything was a blur. A ship brought both the men and the raft to Tahiti where they received a hero’s welcome.
After that, they went to Washington, where they met an enthusiastic President Harry Truman in the White House. The crew had no way of knowing it, but the radio messages Haugland and Raaby had broadcasted had been followed with fascination by the whole world. The crew returned home. They had changed the world’s perception of ancient sea travel, and at the same time undertaken changes that would define the rest of their lives.
OSCAR – Best Documentary Feature 1951 – 16mm camera used to shoot it
THOR AT HIS DESK IN THIS LIFELIKE SIMULATION.