Bergen Kunsthall announces new Director

 ©Ellen Johanne Jarli

Bergen Kunsthall is pleased to announce Kjersti Solbakken as new director. She starts in the position on the 1st of October 2024, with a five-year term.

Kjersti Solbakken (b. 1984, Valnesfjord) is a freelance curator, writer and an institutional leader based in Oslo, Norway. Solbakken is currently assigned as curator of the Lofoten International Art Festival (LIAF) 2024, organized by the North Norwegian Art Centre.

Kjersti Solbakken:
“Bergen Kunsthall can present an ambitious, experimental, and cross-genre program that reaches a wide and engaged audience. This is the outcome of many years of focused work that I am excited to carry on with both current and future partners, an active board, and a knowledgeable staff whom I am eager to get to know!”

From 2017 to 2022, she served as the director of Kunstnerforbundet, one of Scandinavia’s oldest artist-run exhibition spaces. With a program of over 20 exhibitions annually, she oversaw the establishment of Atelier Kunstnerforbundet, a studio collective and network of art enthusiasts focused on engaging the public in the centre of Oslo.

Kjersti Solbakken:
“Bergen Kunsthall is a central meeting place with a distinctive 186-year history. It hosts live performances, exhibitions, and publications and facilitates knowledge production and dissemination initiatives. The institution plays a unique role in various art contexts nationally and internationally, as well as within Bergen’s population and cultural field. I am excited to take on the task of leading the institution into a new period.”

Solbakken has been appointed as the director of Galleri Format and Fotogalleriet. She has curated exhibitions for various institutions, including Telemark Kunstsenter, Hordaland Kunstsenter, Vestlandsutstillingen, Stormen kunst/dájdda, and Astrup Fearnley Museet.

As an active initiator in the self-organised field, she has contributed to the establishment of platforms such as Feil forlag and the viewing room Holodeck and was for a period involved in Tekstallianse – a Nordic festival for micro-publishing and printed matter.

Solbakken has been appointed curator of Øyepå Oslo 2023, organized by Nordland County Council, Viken County Council, Oslo DKS (The Cultural Schoolbag), Kulturtanken and the National Museum.

She is part of KORO’s curatorial committee of LES – Kunst til leiebygg og eldre statlige bygg, 2023-2024. She is a former board member of UKS—Young Artists Society and The Norwegian Association of Curators. Since 2023, she has been an OCA jury member.

Her education includes an MA in curatorial studies from Bergen Academy of Art and Design and a BFA in Fine Arts from the Academy of Arts in Oslo, Norway. In 2022, she was granted the curator residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) through OCA.

Chair of the board Jette Christensen:
“Bergen Kunsthall was looking for a skilled leader who could show how to get the best out of a professionally strong staff. We were looking for a director with a broad international network and an understanding of the institution and its role in Bergen and the world. After a broad process that included processing 75 applications and many good rounds of interviews with national and international candidates, we are delighted that Kjersti Solbakken has agreed to become our new director and move to Bergen.”

Kjersti Solbakken succeeds Axel Wieder, who, after almost seven years in the position, will leave at the end of July for a new role as Director of the Berlin Biennial, one of Europe’s largest exhibitions for contemporary art.

About Bergen Kunsthall
Bergen Kunsthall is a centre for contemporary art and presents exhibitions and events by international artists. Landmark is our vibrant strand of live events that includes concerts and club nights. We organise a broad range of learning activities and debates that are open to everyone. Established initially as Bergens Kunstforening in 1838, the Kunsthall is based in an early functionalist building designed by the architect Ole Landmark in 1935, with gallery spaces, a café and a bookshop. Bergen Kunsthall is supported by the Ministry of Culture, the City of Bergen and Vestland county.


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Press contact:
Emilio Sanhueza