This thesis investigates the way Eco-Art seeks to influence environmental policy through changing the values and beliefs of audience members. Rolf Groven's painting, Oljemaleri, depicts a satirical visual warning about the precarious paradox existing in Norwegian culture and policy today. On one hand, the oil industry is a major source of financial wealth for Norwegians. Yet on the other hand, conserving the sublime, untouched natural landscape is linked to patriotism through (for one example) national romantic paintings like Adolf Tidemand and Hans Gude's Brudeferden i Hardanger. Groven warns that the oil industry threatens some of Norway's most beautiful landscapes and, symbolically, Norway's cultural heritage.
Open-ended interviews with Norwegians helped to inform a base of understanding about the importance of nature in Norwegian culture. Informants also discussed their perceptions of Norwegian environmental policy on a domestic and international level. Interviews with residents of the Hardangerfjord region and with the artist Rolf Groven were given particular attention for their relevance to both the artwork and the cultural landscape. Questionnaires were conducted to investigate how audience members (both from Norway and from abroad) respond to various visual signifiers in Oljemaleri and how they interpret the overall message of Groven's painting. A literature review was conducted to support some of the themes uncovered in the interviews as well as ecosophical questions and to illustrate the art historical background.
The thesis seeks to evaluate what techniques artworks like Oljemaleri and other Eco-Art use to influence political policy, what they aim to change, and how their audiences experience the artworks.