Review

A room for History

There is a small black painted cottage in a mountainous area. One enters from the rear of the cottage, which is always open to everyone. The scenery that unfolds through the large window facing the fjord is stunningly beautiful. One is almost mesmerized by it. Upon looking around you notice the built-in table, level with the front window. There is paper, a set of pencil crayons and a glass of water, just in case you wish to use watercolors. Pinned to one wall are many small drawings, watercolors, short poems and texts.
Against the back wall are shelves with standard office binders. There are many of them. When you open one you see that all the drawings, poems, texts and messages that people have left over time have been neatly archived. You can sit and let yourself sink into the thousands of stories written and pictures drawn by people who have visited the house. It is astonishing how well the visitors’ different moods are conveyed through these very direct brief notes.

There have been local visitors, visitors from other parts of Norway, and tourists from different parts of the world, all relating their admiration of the beauty of the region as well as their surprise at finding this little cottage in the mountains. There are messages from families on holiday. You learn about a local visitor who is on his way abroad for an extended period. He is saying farewell to the landscape. You read about school classes that have chosen this site as the goal of their excursion. Some people are hungrier than they are interested in what is going on here and they just think of the pizza they will soon be eating. People tell about love, sorrow, their religious feelings and their existential yearnings. There are also regulars who come to see the new messages, images and poems hanging on the wall. Some of these people compliment the new cottage floor while others chastise those people that have left the place untidy. When reading the material carefully, one is able to get an inkling of the mental map of our age.

In other folders you see the entire correspondence that preceded the making of this project, and learn that it was actually a private family who collaborated with Artscape Nordland. They were fascinated by the idea of a sculpture in their area even though their local municipality had decided not to take part in this project.
The setting represents a studio situation and the processes that takes place there. Even though this is a studio, it is not an artist’s studio per se. Rather, it is a studio that an artist has planned and then passed on, to you and me. The artist has stepped aside but the studio lives on after his departure. But, the process does not stop here. Interestingly, the cottage also becomes a museum and an archive, but one which is completely democratic. Anyone can leave his or her marks here and as a result of that process the density of the site grows. The place is so open, democratic and free that it could only exist far away from urban areas. You have to make a conscious decision to visit Media Thule; you do not accidentally come across it in your daily or nightly wanderings. Here we see a studio/art gallery/museum as an ideally open and transparent institution; as wonderfully impossible in the real life of institutions as art can and has to be. Or is it?

Maaretta Jaukkuri

The Large Stream

The West Fjord stream
with ruffian manners and flattering winks,
gliding along the coast.
Sheltered by Lofot Mountains, along Engeløy, past
Brettesnes and Svellingan, Tranøy and Tiltvika.

Mingling with the Kanstad Fjord, so brazenly clinging to
Tys Fjord as to shame the others into retreat.

Unashamed flirting in the Tjeld Sound, and caressing
Tjeldodden before falling to rest towards the
Ofot Fjord.

Stubborn, wild, frothing passionate
and very, very wet.

*

The Tilt Horn and Ste Mountain nod knowingly to
one another while Skar Mountain becomes even steeper
at the back of the neck.

The West Fjord stream
watchful of small humans in their hide-covered boats.
Obliging to Viking ships and sailing ships,
the cod liver buyers and the steamboat, old «Bodin.»
Hissing at warships, polite to iron ore freighters,
Respectfully bowing to Elieser 4 and the King’s ships
and nodding in fascination to Vestmaran.

The West Fjord stream
blocking schools of herring until nets were set.
Obediently yielding to seasoned sea pilots and bracing
boat hulls when storms hit.

Freighting church timber and rolling it ashore where
she thought there should be new churches.

Sailing hospital boats with women in labor and bearing
bridal couples to church.

She has wrestled with monsters as well.
Perhaps it was she, who served as model
for the grappling animals on the Steinvik Sword.
It was certainly her reflection in the Chieftain helmets.

She has seen searchlights glare, has
raised cod fry.
Has borne garlands to her cemeteries.
Stood honor guard for those who perished
in her arms.

The West Fjord stream
washed lighthouse walls and watched, in mute
admiration, Herr Walsøe’s struggles with the harpoon.

Has rinsed the buckets of fish handlers, frightened
apprentices and snapped at traveling emissaries.

She has tasted tar, chewed on shipwrecked wood and gulped suns.

Broken ice, moved sandbanks and shuffled seaweed.

Attentively followed feet along the shore,
children’s eyes searching for father.
Peeked under the skirts of young girls running
down the pier to a lover’s embrace.

She has ornamented herself with starfish and seashells.
Moistened armeria and scrubbed sea urchins.
Played with small roach and kelp.

Put food on the table and lovingly cared for
decrepit boathouses.
Been chagrined by rusted scrap, and tolerated
crab food and the droppings of seagulls.

The West Fjord stream
lies here, today, and faces the weather.
Imbuing artists with vision, life and longing
and spectators with experience.
Shall now bear a message
to new generations, about our lives, thoughts, inadequacies
and foolishness.
But first about a people proud of
its culture, its heritage and of being human.

The West Fjord stream
just as obstinate, wild, frothing, passionate
and very, very wet.
Sølvi Ytterstad
Reading at the Opening in Tjeldsund

the nameless
sea against stone
now towards eternity
the soft
with names like care, life, peace, love
sends its waves
towards the hard
with names like hate, death, war and egotism

you nameless one, but yet always
with a name
a face

may your waves
be caught by a storm
and forever beat against
the stones in my heart

you loved one, you human
after a thousand years
of an eternal now
your waves
against the coastline of my soul
transformed the rock
to a sea of sand
Bea 17.5.199

Media Thule
I look at the world
through a drop of water
dancing down the window

Rapidly it runs towards the ground
to hide amongst the moss

But if you follow it with sharp eyes –
into the origin of the drop
it tells me that the world is alive
that what I see of the world
is not what I really see
but an up-side-down world, you see
before it disappears completely.

Pip  18.9.1994

Thoughts for free

To let the thoughts fly...
Where do they come from?
And where are they going?
What are they made of, when they come and go?
Nothing, you say.
It is the brain that thinks.
But where do they come from then?
Can something appear from nothing?
Can something not exist and then suddenly exist?
Coincidence, you say.
And where do they go when I die?
And if something cannot exist and then cease to exist,
Where do the thoughts go to?
To God, some say, but not you.
Why should they go there? You say
Says I.
I must get fed up thinking with God.
And if thoughts endure,
Are they then tax-free?

HA. 18.7.1997
 

In case there should be any doubt. It is not the elaborate torn-up steel sheets from an old shipwreck that lay scattered about down in the low water. It is a work of art.
Ola Solvang, Nordlys 14.06.97

I am proud of the sculpture, and I am certain that it will become an asset for the municipality.
Mayor Håkon Brox at the opening. Harstad Tidende 14.11.94

It is beautiful. Not symmetrical, but with harmonious lines. I can imagine how well it will blend in with the midnight sun on a warm summer evening.
Kari Hay, Fremover 14.11.94

This is where my thoughts wander to.
11-year old visitor to Media Thule, quoted in Fremover 03.05.1995

This booth is a disgrace and an insult to the whole town.
Anonymous message on a wall, reprinted in Fremover 03.05.1995