Ich und Du

NORSKE PROFILER Zeche Zollverrein, Museum Folkwang 1997

The title of the piece, «Ich & Du», (me & you) reflects the relations between; Norway and Germany; between industrialism and environment; between water and heavy water; between sponsors and artists; and between artist and audience. (The title is sampled from the Jewish psychoanalytic Martin Buber´s «Ich und Du», Leipzig 1923 who defines I and theOther as a dynamical couple in the production of identity)

Norske Profiler was arranged and sponsored by the Norwegian Oil Company STATOIL and the German RUHRGAS. The Museum Folkwang in Essen and Kunsthalle Rostock, both hosted and curated the exhibition.

The installation was planned to be a specially built swimming pool, with a transparent beach ball floating in the middle of it. The ball was designed to contain10 kilos of Heavy Water (H4O): A harmless isotope of water. H4O as substance, has been important in the development of atomic bombs and other nuclear processes and, therefore the planned installation was to be under surveillance, monitored and secured by guards.

In order to obtain Heavy Water for the installation in Essen, it was necessary with a long bureaucratic process both in Germany and in Norway. In Norway, the Royal Department of Military Trade, Th e Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and The National Institute for Protection of Radiation were all involved in the process. Leftovers of Heavy Water from 1945 were available, proved scientifically to be harmless and clean from any radiation, still I needed a special permit to export it. The application for exporting H4O was considered and ended up in the government, as a constitutional case. Finally the government, in meetings with the Prime minister and the Royal l King Harald VII of Norway, considered a dispensation from the law of prohibition from exporting strategic material. The application was officially turned down.

The sponsors had accepted and contracted the construction of my installation due to the intentions. The entrepreneurs were supposed to build the pool, but during the political process the sponsors pulled out. Technical problems were suddenly presented as excuses for NOT building the installation. My team of technical experts proved and documented these theories to be wrong. The sponsors then agreed on building the pool.

However on the opening my piece proved to have been censored and never build. On the press conference my name was also erased from the list of artists.

The censorship ended up in Norwegian court as a legal process concerning «Entartet Kunst». The situation confirmed a still delicate common history of Norway and Germany, as well as an even larger conflict of interest between art and sponsorship. «Ich &Du» proved to be the slogan for the whole process, not only the physical concept. Finally the whole process became the piece in itself, as the installation was never build. I won the case.

Heavy Water has become an icon in the Norwegian history of the World War 2, when the Nazis eagerly wanted H4O in order to develop the a-bombs before the Americans. Norway, occupied by Germany, produced this as a co- product from synthetic fertilizers. An export of this exclusive water was prepared with special German forces loading a ferry. However, the transport failed as a result of Norwegian sabotage. Many civilians were killed but its strategic importance made the soldiers become Heroes.

In Essen the show was located in Zeche Zolverrein. From 1920 - 1980 it functioned as one of the largest coalmines and coal power plants in Germany. Today Zeche Zollverrein works as a cultural village with production halls converted to galleries, theaters and concert halls.