«Nordische Klang » Greifswald, Germany 1999

I created an installation piece in the old Swedish Castle GRIEBENOW, located just outside the city fortress of Griefswald. The castle is surrounded by a beautifully arranged garden. The building is heavily run down after having functioned many years as a home for elderly people. In the former East Germany (DDR), An old aristocratic castle was not a political correct object for investment and was therefore neglected for 50 years. Today it is owned by a private investor who has ambitions of restoring it into a cultural center for the region.

The concept deals with the small gardens called «Schreber Garten», built on a social democratic ideal from the 1920‘s, located in the suburbs of Greifswald and surrounded by concrete towers. The democratically parted gardens in the middle of this heavy architecture are just as superficial as the romantic aristocratic architecture of the garden in Sloß Griebenow.

The communal gardens of Greifswald are called EINIGKEIT, named after the German national Hymn (Einigkeit, recht und freiheit, für das deutsches Vaterland…etc). EINIGKEIT, A 10 meter high 3D sign, almost like a totem, stood outside the communal garden. The sign was welded in steel in the significant «cubic» style from DDR, each letter put on a cube.

I dismantled the totem and put it up again in the main hall of the castle. The chandelier in the hall became part of the installation, after restoring it. From each of the light bulbs on the chandelier, 25 separate electrical cords hung down onto the floor. Working lamps (light-tubes) were installed behind each letter of the sign EINIGKEIT. These were the only light sources in the hall. The rusty industrial sign from socialist times in the decadent aristocratic room with the broken chandelier, together with installed photos on the walls formed a vanitas installation.

The photos are from Berlin and Oslo. One from Bahnhof portrays the façade of the second hand store HUMANA and their big commercial sign: «FIRST CLASS SECOND HAND». The second photo is from 1923 and shows my grandparents standing outside their communal house in Oslo.

The installation was removed four weeks before the contracted period of time. The director of the castle, who used to be an elevated member of the Communist party in Greifswald, called the installation a monster.

The city of Griefswald wants to be identified as the place of birth of the painter, Caspar David Friedrich. It has also been marketing itself as a romantic hanseatic village with historical relations to the Nordic countries. In the 17th century this region was the territory of the Swedish monarchy. However, more than 50 years of communism has left Greifswald partly in ruins. The town is now searching for a new identification in order to survive, both economically and culturally. Nordische Klang is an annual festival of art, music and theater to which I was invited as Norwegian artist in residence in Berlin.