Painting removed for inflaming Breivik trauma

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Painting removed for inflaming Breivik trauma

Norway's Ministry of Health has refused to take a new painting for the minister's lobby because staff complained that other paintings in the series reminded them too closely of the 2011 terror attacks.


The first painting, 'The Light Disappears - Just Our Eyes', which hangs in the building's ground floor entrance, features a skeleton and scattered bones, and depicts the government tower that was damaged when far-right terrorist Anders Breivik detonated a bomb underneath it, with papers flying from the windows. 
The Health Ministry's building, situated just behind the main government tower, was so badly hit by Breivik's attack that it remains abandoned more than two years later, and the ministry has now moved to new quarters. 
"Several employees have responded. They say it is reminiscent of 22 July," Bjørn Inge Larsen, Secretary at the Ministry of Health  told NRK. 
As a result, the ministry has refused to take the third painting in the series, which is still being completed by the Norwegian artist Vanessa Baird.  
As a result of the refusal, Koro, the public art organisation which placed the painting, has decided to also remove both the first painting and a second painting, which hangs in the Ministry of Food, which shares the premises, arguing that the three paintings are a single work which should share the same space. 
"I'm flabbergasted. I think it is sheer madness and an abuse of power," Baird told NRK, conceding that it was "sad that many employees feel traumatized". 
She claimed that she had never intended the paintings as a commentary on the 2011 attacks.  
"The papers flying from H-block would just as easily be read as a statement on bureaucracy, not as a representation of the events of 22 July 2011," she said.  
Svein Bjørkås, Koro's director, said he was "very sorry" that the paintings had been rejected. 
"This is high quality work with a great deal of potential for public interest, and our plan now is to have this complete project shown in its right place," he said. "This is the condition for public art everywhere, we can't force artworks into anybody's buildings." 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also