Hos Arne: A harmonious blend of art, culture and dialogue
By Maria Vole | Photos: Johanne Nyborg
Located in Oslo’s trendy Grünerløkka, Hos Arne is a vibrant art and culture space devoted to fostering dialogue and understanding. Here, a well-developed set of values underpins a carefully curated programme designed to engage and inspire.
At an apartment in Gøteborggata in the heart of Grünerløkka, big conversations are taking place. The versatile art space and culture house Hos Arne (meaning ‘At Arne’s’) has quickly become one of Oslo’s most interesting venues. In fact, the space won the culture paper Subjekt’s prestigious award for Best Showroom in 2022.
“At Hos Arne, everyone is welcome. This place comes from our hearts, and we want people to feel that they can truly be themselves here,” says managing director and curator Maria Katarina T. Michelsen.
A value-based approach to art and dialogue
Comprising an art gallery and a stylish apartment where a range of events, talks and workshops are hosted, Hos Arne isn’t just an arts and culture venue – it’s also an arena for encouraging conversations and open dialogue on a wide range of societal issues. The concept grew from Maria’s keen interest in the teachings of the Norwegian philosopher and writer Arne Næss.
Næss believed philosophy should be accessible to everyone, and not reserved for lofty conversations among academics and philosophers. “We want to continue his important work and adapt it to society as it is today,” says Maria. “We believe that the arts and culture scene we’re building inspires curiosity around thinking, reflecting and philosophising.”
Hos Arne’s unique quality comes from the deep thought and values underpinning the space and the work that goes into designing the cultural programme. “Dialogue, democracy and deep ecology are the core pillars we build upon. Community, closeness and understanding blooms out of those core values and informs the way we communicate, the way we work with artists and how we welcome people to our venue,” culture manager Marius Nakken Larsen explains. “Beyond that, playfulness is a key value of ours – we want to have fun together and enjoy creating something new.”
A non-traditional arts and event space
This non-traditional gallery has a special focus on providing space for young and up-and-coming artists, while the apartment plays host to an interesting range of talks, concerts and dance performances, as well as workshops on meditation, breathwork and self-awareness. It’s a fascinating, holistic mix of activities, all designed to encourage reflection and unlike anything you’ll find in other venues.
“We focus on creating a community and establishing a safe space for expression,” says Marius. “Our events are small and intimate, and you’re always close to what’s happening. There is no separation between the artist and the audience – everyone is seated at the same level, and there’s a closeness there.”
The proximity to the art and cultural performances may lead to a more personal emotional connection between artist and audience, and the intimate nature of the talks hosted by Hos Arne inspires closeness. “By creating a new format for art and culture and the type of meeting point we provide, we hope to be able to influence others to create other ways to come together as human beings,” says Maria.
Daring to think, engage and care
Hos Arne features regular salon events where a wide array of societal issues are discussed, with the aim of fostering progress and understanding. “Our salon events are about bringing people together to find new perspectives, to challenge our point of view, opinions and ways of thinking – it’s about creating a space where there is room for different ways of thinking,” says Maria. “Næss talked about thinking as being painful. It’s easier not to think, not to engage with things that are painful to consider deeply – but we must dare to have those conversations.”
These events sprang from the idea that people are afraid to think and truly engage with challenging topics, and that a collaborative approach could spawn good conversations and improved understanding. “Part of our mission is re-inserting philosophy to the core of culture. We want critical thinking to be considered cool,” says Marius.
A key focus of the salons is to provide an arena for open and empathetic dialogue and exchange of opinions, to combat the fact that the space for expression in society has become too narrow. “There aren’t many truly safe spaces. Part of our mission is to encourage learning from one another without judgment, and being curious rather than dismissive,” says Maria. The theme of the next salon event taking place in April will be ‘the seriousness of being funny’, focused on the role of comedians in our society.
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