The sponsorship of the Norwegian private owned Astrup Fearnley Museum has created a huge debate in the art world, because the museum has decided to accept funds and sponsorship form the Swedish-based oil firm Lundin Petroleum. The Lundin family also owns the Swedish auction house Bukowski.
The reason for the debate and outrage is cased by the fact, that: “Lundin is know for breaching humanitarian rights in Sudan”. The quote comes form the chief of the largely state-funded art magazine Kunstkritikk Jonas Ekeberg.
Ekeberg had also called on delegates to the Norwegian Cultural Council’s annual conference to boycott a closing reception at the museum on 14 November
On the other hand Gunnar Kvaran, the director of the Astrup Fearnley, defends the sponsorship by saying: “our authorities are cooperating with them and we do not see a reason for distrusting them”
Ekeberg also stands accused of double standards. Maria Veie, the owner of Galleri Maria Veie in Oslo and Trondelag says that as Kunstkritikk is almost entirely financed by the state and that the Norwegian government’s pension fund holds a 1.6% stake in Lundin Petroleum, Ekeberg should, in principle, reject his magazine’s subsidy. “One should be aware that, to a certain extent, we are all cultural producers subsidised by oil money in a time of global economic turmoil.” Although privately owned, her gallery is also in receipt of state funds.
A similar debate was created earlier this year when the Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm accepted sponsorship from Lundin Petroleum.