Production of Abstract and Differential Space at the Ekeberg Park in Oslo

Liv Bente Belsnes


The Ekeberg Park is a sculpture and heritage park situated on a green hill close to Oslo city centre. It was financed by the CLRS Foundation established by the real estate developer and art collector Christian Ringnes. Since opening on September 26th, 2013, the park has sparked a heated debate concerning the way private capital has been allowed to influence a publicly-owned area, thus challenging the paradigm of Nordic planning as democratic and as paying attention to nature and human beings. The debate has focused on the alleged neglect of the natural landscape and cultural heritage, and the feminine conceptual theme of the art. The topics highlighted represent aspects of a common critique of strategic urban policy influenced by neoliberalism, questioning the public consensus on this. I investigate some of the discussions many layers, using Lefebvres concepts of abstract versus differential space (1991), and asking if the development process of the Ekeberg park involved a transformation from abstract space to differential space. Examining the parks relation to politics and aesthetics (Rancičre, 2004), I conclude that although the park is aesthetically and ideologically part of an urban landscape of abstraction, steps have been taken towards creating a more differential space.

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