Norway’s lauded black metal scene continues to be celebrated by the upper echelons of the country’s arts society. This time, through a new partnership between Oslo’s Munch Museum and one of the world’s most famous black metal bands, Satyricon.

The project, which has been in the making for three years, saw Satyricon compose an hour-long piece of music to soundtrack a selection of paintings and graphics by Edvard Munch. Munch is best known for his painting ‘The Scream’, which inspired this oft-used Emoji — 😱.

Hosted in one of three performance spaces at the newly-built Munch Museum (which is five-times bigger than its predecessor), Satyricon’s composition has created a dark, intimate experience to showcase some of Munch’s most existentialist works.

Edvard Munch’s work Blossom of Pain features in the new exhibition soundtracked by Satyricon

Satyricon frontman Sigurd Wongraven spoke at the exhibition space yesterday to address international delegates in town to attend the annual Øya Festival. Wongraven said that without a blueprint for this type of pairing, he had to turn inward.

“There was no one that I could call to say ‘How do you do this?’ So I had to rely on honesty, integrity, hard work and surround myself with competent people,” he said.

“The unlikely meets the likely, fine art versus black metal,” he added. “But that was completely contradictory to what we wanted to do because we wanted these elements to become one. It was a question of how can the music that we write amplify the emotions that already lie in the works of Munch? And in the same way, make it so that in the curating, we could find things that help amplify the music.”

Satyricon frontman Sigurd Wongraven speaking at Munch

Wongraven said one of the things that steered him onto the path was the extensive time he spent in nature.

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“I don’t really listen to music, but I found that certain types of music was running through the air in nature [… ] I get this feeling that I’m looking at something that I otherwise wouldn’t be focusing on […].

“This was the starting point where I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to try and follow this chain of thoughts that I had and make something more out of it?'”

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“Just like Munch, Satyricon’s approach is open and inquisitive, constantly evolving,” said exhibition curators. “The exhibition’s music carries Satyricon’s unmistakable signature yet breaks away from anything they’ve previously created through its format, length, and expression.”

It’s all part of Munch Museum’s new live arts programme, headed up by Ingrid Moe, Head of MUNCH Live. Moe commissions four local and international contemporary artists each year across music, dance and theatre to deliver performances in the museum’s three dedicated live performance spaces.

However, this exhibition with Satyricon is the first time Munch has partnered with a band.

“These performances form a central part of our new extensive live programme,” said Ingrid Moe. “We look forward to working closely with artists on developing new work and ensuring that these commissions also reach international audiences.”

The Satyricon & Munch exhibition runs until August 28th 2022.

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