A memory wound: Utøya, Norway

Concept. Image © Jonas Dahlberg, courtesy of KORO.

Concept. Image © Jonas Dahlberg, courtesy of KORO.


The awarded project as described by its artist Jonas Dahlberg:

An emotional observation informs my overall concept. During the initial site visit to Utøya, I noticed how different the feeling was of walking outside in nature, compared to the feeling of walking through the rooms of the main building. The experience of seeing the vacant rooms and the traces of extreme violence brought me — and others around me — to a state of profound sadness. In its current state, the building kept close within it the memory of the terror acts of July 22, 2011. Like an open wound.

But while the building produced these feelings, nature was somehow different. Although we stood directly on the very place where many people had lost their lives, nature had already begun to obscure all traces. This observation was reinforced when viewing the Government Quarter. With more time and with the upcoming building renovations and removals, both on Utøya and in Oslo, the disturbing sensations that were felt inside the buildings will also shift and eventually fade in varying degrees. Just as an open wound is stitched closed and eventually turns into a faded scar.

This observation forms the seed of my concept that begins with the Memorial Sørbråten. The Temporary and Permanent Memorials in the Government Quarter grow from this seed, yet they proceed and carefully consider their own site-specific physical, social and political aspects.”

“Memory Wound

My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died. The cut will be a three-and-a-half-meters-wide excavation. It slices from the top of the headland at the Sørbråten site, to below the water line and extends to each side. This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.

Visitors begin their experience guided along a wooden pathway through the forest. This creates a five to ten minute contemplative journey leading to the cut. Then the pathway will flow briefly into a tunnel. This tunnel leads visitors inside of the landscape and to the dramatic edge of the cut itself. Visitors will be on one side of a channel of water created by the cut. Across this channel, on the flat vertical stone surface of the other side, the names of those who died will be visibly inscribed in the stone. The names will be close enough to see and read clearly — yet ultimately out of reach. The cut is an acknowledgement of what is forever irreplaceable.”

“Given the natural beauty of the area, my concept suggests the importance that the Memorial Sørbråten provides a markedly different physical and narrative experience from other places along Norway’s breathtaking landscape. The National Tourist Routes (Nasjonale turistveger) deliver a sense of satisfaction of having reached a spectacular vista or a historical site.

In contrast, this experience hopes to bring visitors to a state of reflection through a poetic rupture or interruption. It should be difficult to see the inherent beauty of the natural setting, without also experiencing a sense of loss. It is this sense of loss that will physically activate the site. People will find their way around the landscape surrounding the cut, looking down at the channel and to the names from a higher perspective, or looking out to Utøya, establishing their own private ways of seeing and remembering.”


from website http://www.bustler.net/



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