Review

Marooned starfish

The first encounter was a surprise. I was on my way to Henningsvær in Lofoten. The road was under construction; arrows indicated a detour. A crossroads, no sign in sight, and I chose the road that seemed right. After fifteen minutes I began to wonder. This must be the wrong road. A look at the map: well, there is a small road that runs north and it leads in the right direction, why not keep going? It looks like a good asphalt road, but narrow. Suddenly a sign appears: tourist attraction. A nice flat place to park the car. Arrows point to the beach. A view of the fjord unfolds, steep mountains straight down to the water on the northern side, where the coast is lower. Further down the shoreline, not far from the water, lies something resembling a marooned starfish. However, I recognize the form; it is a work by Finnish sculptor Martti Aiha.

It was a peculiar experience. Waves lapped softly against the shore and the sound of a chainsaw was audible from somewhere in the woods. There was a slight breeze in the air and the gulls shrieked at the mouth of the fjord in the distance. Otherwise, there was only the great silence that surrounds one when in untouched nature. Not quite untouched – behind me was the road, on the other side some houses. Yet not a person was to be seen, and there was no sound of traffic. In the midst of this, an artwork, made by a sculptor, a human encroachment on this extraordinary nature.

In the Norwegian nature of mountains and fjords, this sculpture lies in an almost self-collapsed state. The compact, rust color of the tense, untreated steel allows the work to almost blend into the surroundings, while its form is clearly cerebral. As I write the word cerebral – something that originates from the brain more than the heart – it occurs to me that these forms may also be seen as a simplified depiction of the brain’s physical windings. An association that aptly illustrates the ambiguity of this work, one that allows for mystical interpretations for those so inclined. Reference was made to a symbol for the midnight sun in the speech at the concluding ceremonies of the Nordland project. Seven Magic Points is the title, enigmatic and yet totally concrete, as the points are there to be seen, if one chooses, as holes of the circular construction.
As I began my journey, I discovered that this sculpture is not actually in Nordland, outside of Troms County: Skånland, although a municipality in Troms, wanted to be in the project, perhaps because of the land connections it has via neighboring municipalities in Nordland.

However, it was not possible to move the sculpture here by land. It was made in Brahestad, Finland of the thickest iron that is possible to work with, the compact _material 21 centimeters thick. The forms were carved out and the pieces transported to Harstad by naval landing craft, the only vessels able to navigate the coastline of the mountainous peninsula in Skånland. The sculpture’s parts were then lifted ashore and mounted on the rock shelf by means of short rods. These rods serve only to even out the surface, not to make the sculpture appear lighter. No tricks are used, no appearance of floating: it rests heavily on the ancient rocky shelf, like a jellyfish or starfish washed ashore that heads for land when deprived of its real element, water. No allusions to a midnight sun symbolism. «I am not a mystic», Aiha says. Yet there is a mystical quality to his large, heavy metal starfish, which lies pressed against the cliff or camouflaged by a dust of powdery snow until the water of the North Sea, always ice-free, washes over it once more.

Erik Kruskopf

Labyrinth on the Horizon

Was it a wreck of a boat that had drifted ashore? Old, rusty scrap iron from the many freight ships along the coast? From a distance one might wonder. However, while approaching, the image changed. A strange transformation took place – the scrap iron became a copper coin, a broach, a sun dial that had come to rest on the rocks.

Our traditional summer place by the sea had become filled with new meaning. It still lay facing north, but the space had gained a focus point – that certainly didn’t loom or force itself on you, it just simply was present.
If we wanted to, we could make the sculpture sing and we could use it as a drum. We could also dance upon it, or follow the waves and the sound of the wind that were traced on to. The youngest amongst us detected the labyrinth in it.

The magic for us did not lie in the seven points, but in being able to see the midnight sun over the horizon towards the north. At the end of the midnight sun’s golden river over the sea, you find the sculpture – just like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The magic lies in the inexplicable man-made connection between sky and sea, just like the ancient labyrinths we can find along the coast.

Marit Myrvoll, Tromsø

The cruiser M.... and I – brief encounters with magic points
I am there quite often for some short stolen moments, when the Cruiser M... and I take our weekend trips. The cruiser has to sit in the car. He protests when I leave, but not much. He is used to these little breaks. I give him the waiting sign before I go, and tell him I’ll be right back. «gh,» he then says, almost as a mark of a certain control.

Down by the seashore the sculpture lies – flat as the rock it sits upon. Sometimes the sea is much lower, where the waves play with the sea grass. But when the tide is high the waves come sneaking right up to where Seven Magic Points lies.

I think I like it best at dusk. Then I feel the silence better. The sounds of nature are there all the time, but these are the sounds of silence for a stressed person of today. I sit down on the sculpture with my face turned out to sea. I put both hands upon my knees and close my eyes. Now the pictures of the mind may come as they plase. I let them come if there are any. I breathe deeply a few times to let out the afternoon tiredness from driving.

After two or three minutes I get up and give the sculpture a good kick. Then it sings – not there, but there – a humming tone that reverberates far inwards. – Yes, there is sound in it.

Then I slowly walk back up the path to the parking lot where my friend Cruiser already waits impatiently, apparent from the loud sounds in the car. I get in and make a sign to indicate that we may now drive on. But first we have to choose some music. Shall we have some Red Indian music by Buffy Saint Marie or Rune Rudberg’s cd Tidal Waves? I choose the sweet one. Then we drive on while Rune Rudberg’s songs sugar the mind with sentimental dreams. It feels good, at least for me. My mentally handicapped son also likes it. «Mmmm,» he says contented. Then we drive on for awhile – just because we like to cruise awhile.

Per Skåden, EVENSKJER
 

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

Parking spots are more expensive than art.
Headline in Fremover, 08.09.1994