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Nordic minimalism (architecture, art, design and literature)

Le minimalisme nordique (architecture, arts, design et littérature

« Nordiques », n° 44, 2022

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Published on Wednesday, May 04, 2022


The interdisciplinary journal Nordiques is issuing a call for papers on the notion of minimalism as an aesthetic often associated with Northern Europe. Proposals are expected to study this notion in its various meanings, in its transmedial and transnational specificities, or in its aesthetic, historical and sociocultural anchorage, in the light of a Nordic delimitation.



In design, art, architecture and fashion, the correlation between minimalist aesthetics and the Nordic context is often obvious, if not commonplace. Thus, the sobriety of urban spaces, the purified style of interior decoration, the importance of cold and plain colours, the homogeneity of the layout, or the slower rhythm of audiovisual productions seem to be symptomatic of Northern Europe and of the topos of Nordic space, such as vast natural expanses, long, harsh, dark winters, short summers, sparsely inhabited spaces and taciturn people, etc. In short, here appears a cliché that wants the minimalist aesthetic to be justified by the conditions of life in the Nordic space. As Ursula Lindqvist rightly notes about Nordic Slow Cinema, “the muted colors, tempered light, and balanced geometry of the films’ images also evoke a distinctly Nordic tradition in painting, architecture, and design, one that is recognizable to anyone who has spent time in the Nordic region.”[1] The apparently self-evident nature of this justification does not, however, allow for a precise definition of Nordic Minimalism, which thus demands a contextual analysis and the clarification of potential correlations with Nordic socio-cultural, geographical and imaginary conditions.

At the same time, the notion of minimalism is complex, as it varies across art, time and culture. Notwithstanding its many variations and « [i]n its simplest definition, Minimalism is a style distinguished by severity of means, clarity of form, and simplicity of structure and texture. »[2] However, it is important to consider that minimalist art has as many different forms as it has diverse origins. Thus, the authorship of minimalism in music is attributed to Erik Satie and his Vexations (1893); in architecture, it is said to be from the Weimar Bauhaus; in painting, it oscillates between Alphonse Allais, Soviet constructivism, Kazimir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt; in cinema, it could be based on the trinity of Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson and Carl Theodor Dreyer proposed by Paul Schrader[3]3; etc. In the 1960s, Minimalism established itself as an artistic movement (especially in painting, sculpture, music and architecture), which - adopting the principle of architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe: "less is more" - asserts the search for the viewer's reflective and reflexive experience through a moment of suspension and formal simplicity. Today, this principle continues to exist in multiple modalities, such as, for example, Slow cinema, minimal techno or neo-minimalism. This quick overview shows that minimalism developed internationally following modernism and is concerned with bringing about a reflective and reflexive posture in the viewer by keeping only the essential evocative elements. In short, this aesthetic can be defined as maximum simplicity, carrying a stylistic principle that aims to represent a function.

In the Nordic context, the aim is to study whether and how this proposal is modulated and contextualised. Going beyond the strict definition of the American minimalist art movement, this dossier seeks to outline the contours, however heterogeneous, of a transmedial conception of Nordic minimalism. It seeks to explore its different conceptions, its origins and its functions. In this respect, the question of the identity function of Minimalism - which stems from the broader field of modernism and is based on self-reflexivity and contemplation (theorized by, among others, the modalities of the Deleuzian time-image, in particular the crystal- image[4]) - is to be approached according to the modalities specific to the Nordic space. The aim is first and foremost to identify the salient features of a minimalism that is quickly identifiable as Nordic, even though this aesthetic principle can be found internationally in several arts and in literature. Authors are thus invited to reflect on the specificities and formal and ideological devices, as well as the socio-cultural context in which the notion of Nordic minimalism is crystallized. Similarly, the question of minimalism in particular as it is modulated today invites trans-media and trans-national comparison. Finally, this dossier will consider both hypotheses of the origins of this aesthetic and the forms it takes in the Nordic arts today.

Potential proposition could be, for example (the list below is not exhaustive):

  • Contemporary art productions, such as those by Paul Fägerskiöld, Ólafur Arnalds, Juhani Pallasmaa, Ulla Perdersen, Jon Fosse, or Ruben Östlund.
  • The 'classic' traditions of Nordic minimalism (Carl Theodor Dreyer, Knud Holscher, Ingmar Bergman, Arvo Pärt, Alvar Aalto, Vilhelm Hammershøj, Hilma af Klint, etc.)
  • The links between aesthetics and socio-cultural issues (Protestant tradition or welfare state)
  • Minimalism and ecological sensitivity (ranging from trends in zero waste restaurants and sustainable audiovisual productions[5] to Jaakko Pernu's sculptures and Sami artists' commitment to the protection of Sápmi)
  • International comparisons, for example between Hungarian and Nordic slow cinema, between Japanese and Nordic design and architecture, between repetitive art and electronic music

Submission guidelines

Paper proposals (200 words approx.) must be sent to aymeric.pantet[a]sorbonne-universite.fr and harri.veivo[a]unicaen.fr

Deadline June 30th 2022.

Information on the acceptance of the proposal: August 31st 2022.

First draft of the article (max. 40,000 characters): November 30th 2022.

Manuscripts will be submitted for double-blind review.

For style guidelines, see this page


Publishing editors

  • Éric Eydoux, président de l’association Norden (France)

  • Olivier Tacheau, directeur de la bibliothèque de Caen (France)

Editors in chief

  • Yohann Aucante, maître de conférences, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris), chercheur au Centre Raymond Aron (France)

  • Harri Veivo, professeur, université Caen Normandie (France)

  • Katerina Kesa, politologue et maître de conférences, INALCO (France), chercheur au Centre de Recherches Europes-Eurasie et co-responsable du projet Espaces baltiques (CREE, France)

Head of Research News

  • Aymeric Pantet, docteur en histoire et sémiologie du texte et de l’image – spécialité études cinématographiques – de l’Université de Paris, maître de langue finnoise à Sorbonne Université.

Reading committee

Après une première validation des rédacteurs en chef, chaque article est soumis de façon anonyme à un membre du comité de lecture et à un relecteur extérieur spécialiste du domaine nordique. Les membres du comité de lecture peuvent aussi proposer des thématiques et coordonner des dossiers en collaboration avec les rédacteurs en chef.

Après examen du contenu, soit l’article est validé en l’état ou sous condition de modifications, soit la publication est refusée. Les corrections et les modifications demandées sont apportées par les contributeurs jusqu’à la validation finale par les rédacteurs en chef. L’article est enfin relu par la correctrice de la revue

  • Nathalie Blanc-Noël, maître de conférences HDR, université de Bordeaux IV, chercheur au GRECCAP-CMRP (France)

  • Sylvain Briens, professeur, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Maurice Carrez, professeur, université de Strasbourg, (France)

  • Bente Christensen, maître de conférences honoraire, université d’Oslo, (Norvège)

  • Louis Clerc, maître de conférences, université de Turku, (Finlande)

  • Karl Gadelii, professeur, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Frédérique Harry, maître de conférences, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Maria Hellerstedt, maître de conférences, université de Lille 3 (France)

  • Annelie Jarl Ireman, maître de conférences, chercheur à l’ERLIS, Université de Caen Normandie (France)

  • Steinunn Le Breton, maître de conférences honoraire, université de Caen Normandie (France)

  • Christian Bank Pedersen, maître de conférences, université de Caen Normandie (France)

  • Rea Peltola, maître de conférences, université de Caen Normandie (France)

  • Ann-Sofie Persson, maître de conférences, université de Linköping (Suède)

  • Christophe Premat, maître de conférences, université de Stockholm (Suède)

  • Vincent Simoulin, professeur, université de Toulouse II (France)

  • David Smith, professeur, université de Glasgow (Ecosse)

  • Pierre-Brice Stahl, maître de conférences, université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV, France)

Scientific committee

Le comité scientifique reste le garant des publications. Il a un droit de regard sur le contenu et le bien- fondé de la thématique abordée dans chaque article. Il est consulté également en cas d’avis divergent sur un contenu d’article.

  • Marc Auchet (président du comité scientifique), professeur émérite, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Jean-François Battail, professeur émérite, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Philippe Bouquet, professeur honoraire, université de Normandie (France)

  • Jean-Pascal Daloz, directeur de recherche au CNRS, UMR SAGE – Université de Strasbourg, (France)

  • Yves Lacoste, directeur de la revue Hérodote (France)

  • Jean-Marie Maillefer, professeur émérite, université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV, (France)

  • Thomas Mohnike, maître de conférences, université de Strasbourg (France)

  • Uffe Østergaard, professeur, Copenhagen Business School (Danemark)

  • Øyvind Østerud, professeur, université d’Oslo (Norvège)

  • Jean Renaud, professeur émérite, université de Normandie (France)

  • Peter Stadius, professeur, université de Helsinki (Finlande)

  • Torfi Tulinius, professeur, université de Reykjavík (Islande)


[1] Ursula Lindqvist, « 25 : The Art of Not Telling Stories in Nordic Fiction Films » in A Companion to Nordic Cinema, Mette Hjort et Ursula Lindqvist (éd.), Chichester, West Sussex ; Malden, MA, John Wiley & Sons, 2016, p. 559.

[2] Edward Strickland, Minimalism: Origins, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2000, p.4.

[3] Paul Schrader, Transcendental Style In Film, New York, Da Capo Press, 1972.

[4] Gilles Deleuze, Cinéma 2, L’image-temps, Paris, Éditions de minuit, 1985, p. 50-61 ; 92‐105.

[5] Ekosetti, https://ekosetti.fi/,  consulté le 16 avril 2021.


  • Caen, France (14)


  • Thursday, June 30, 2022


  • minimalisme, nordique, architecture, art, design, littérature


  • Aymeric Pantet
    courriel : research [dot] viceandvirtue [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Aymeric Pantet
    courriel : research [dot] viceandvirtue [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Nordic minimalism (architecture, art, design and literature) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, May 04, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18uc

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