Architect Remembers Massacre Victims With 'Wounded' Landscape | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Architect Remembers Massacre Victims With 'Wounded' Landscape

Play associated audio

On a July day in 2011, the world first heard of a small island off Norway called Utoya under the most terrible circumstances. The island was a youth camp for Norway's Labor Party. On that summer day, a heavily armed right-wing extremist stepped onto Utoya and began to walk across it, shooting at random.

Sixty-nine people died, over a hundred were wounded — almost all young people.

This month, artist and architect Jonas Dahlberg was commissioned to create a memorial, due to open next year on the anniversary of this tragedy. Most striking is the way Dahlberg envisions a channel cut clean through the end of a peninsula, a concept he calls a "memory wound." He described his vision to Morning Edition's Renee Montagne.


Interview Highlights

On the experience he envisions for visitors.

You start your walk through a forest of evergreens, which is almost like Christmas trees, on a wooden pathway that are sort of circling through the forest. And you see a little bit of the lake, but you're pretty much enclosed on some sort of contemplative walk through this forest. After a while, this pathway starts to go down into the landscape.

Then, visitors go into a short tunnel and then emerge into daylight, where they stand at the edge of the severed peninsula. Across a narrow channel of water, there is a wall of stone engraved with the names of the dead.

It becomes almost like a gravestone, very polished stone. You cannot reach it. It's close enough to be able to read, but it's forever lost for your possibility to reach.

On what he means by "memory wound"

During my first site visit, the experience of seeing those gunshots ... it was like being in an open wound, and it took me to a stage of deep sadness where it was hard to breathe. So I didn't want to illustrate loss; I wanted to make actual loss. It's just a cut through the peninsula. ...

It's still almost impossible to understand [the shooting]. It's also one of the reasons why it's so important with memorials for these kinds of things. It's to maybe help a little bit to understand what was happening. So it's not just about remembering, it's also about trying to just understand — or helping to understand.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Dressing Up As A T-Rex Is All Part Of The Job

Remember in Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo slices open the belly of a tauntaun so Luke can stay warm? That's not much different from how Eli Presser climbs into his T-Rex costume.
NPR

Plot To Poison Famed French Wine Makes For Gripping (Pinot) Noir

In Shadows in the Vineyard Maximillian Potter tells the true story of the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard — and how it was held up for a 1 million euro ransom.
NPR

Congress Leaves Town Next Week, But Will Anyone Notice?

Next week is Congress's last before summer recess, which is often when a flurry of bills are pushed through Congress. This year, not so much, NPR's Ron Elving tells NPR's Scott Simon.
NPR

Tech Week: Industry Diversity, Digital Afterlives, Net Neutrality

The roundup: Twitter released a scorecard showing that its workforce is largely male and white. And what happens to our digital stuff after we log off for the last time?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.