Norwegian Government to Drop Jonas Dahlberg’s Memorial to 2011 Terrorist Attack

Dahlberg’s 'Memory Wound' was intended to pay tribute to the 77 victims.

Model of Memory Wound by Jonas Dahlberg
Model of Memory Wound, a gap cut into the Sørbråten peninsula by artist Jonas Dahlberg as a memorial for the victims of the 2011 massacre. Photo: courtesy Jonas Dahlberg Studio.

In what is disappointing news, the Norwegian government will likely nix plans to erect a memorial designed by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg, in what was intended to be a tribute to the victims of the July 22, 2011 bombing in Oslo and shootings on the island of Utøya, which left 77 dead (69 of which were children).

The project, titled Memory Wound, was set to cut a slice from the coastline in the village of Sørbråten in a visually stunning and haunting reminder of the tragic events that occurred in 2011. However, despite receiving worldwide acclaim and overall high praise, the plans for the memorial were fiercely opposed by local residents, who called the design a “rape of nature”, a “tourist attraction”, and a “hideous monument,” according to the Local.

 

The enraged protesters are led by Jørn Øverby, a Fremskrittspartiet politician, a party which aligns itself with right-wing politics and the conservative movement. Tension has risen dramatically, as the group is threatening to sue the state should the project move forward. As a result, the Norwegian government is willing to drop plans in order to achieve peace.

“I am convinced that the public debate… is an important part of the grieving process necessary for a community,” Dahlberg said in a statement according to the Art Newspaper, adding that “the events of 22 July 2011 were an act of political terrorism. It is more important than ever to talk about its causes and context in the current political climate.”

He is publicly calling upon the government to stand their ground by relocating the memorial in a compromise, stating: “Overseeing this delicate situation, and gently guiding the conversation, is a responsibility of the government.”

Upon the 2014 selection of Dahlberg’s work, Koro, the committee responsible for Norwegian public art explained their decision: “Dahlberg’s work should be 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.”


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