An uncompleted park project
The postcard that shows Bård Breivik’s sculpture at Taraldsvik in Narvik portrays a stone sculpture consistsing of an irregular horizontal slab of reddish granite and a tall, pale cylinder of stone which is rounded off at the top. The sculpture is placed in a small clearing in a birch wood, on a spit of land where two streams meet before continuing towards the viewer as a small waterfall. The surrounding area is a copice of slim birch trees and the background features a gentle slope dominated by green birch leaves.
Photographed in the sunshine, the scene is idyllic. One associates the image with an harmonic Arcadia, where people live in quiet harmony with their surroundings. A sacred, Arcadian grove, consecrated to the worship of fertility, peace and contemplation somewhere in the green depths of nature. We are informed that the tall, pale cylinder is hollow and that the water flows over the top and runs down the column, enhancing the impression of a stylized phallus, and consequently the impression of a mythical fertility cult.
This association with the flow of the river is emphasized by the fact that the sculpture is not a single, unique work. It is part of a larger group of works that originally consisted of two sculptures. In addition to the previously mentioned phallus, a «portal» sculpture was installed at the other culmination of the river’s lower reaches, where the river runs into the sea. The portal was erected on land, but this was meant to be a temporary placement. The final site was to be out in the river, but this final placement has not yet occurred. As far as Bård Breivik is concerned, the sculptures by Taraldsvik River are the beginning of a park project. It is a continuation of the ideas he had developed previously, in other urban park projects, building upon the flow of water as a connecting element in the park – water both as symbolic and physical centerpiece.
The construction of town parks has historically developed from the gardens and parks of the large country properties and the understanding that these places were specially valuable as places for physical and mental well-being. Greek philosophers, for example Epicurus, claimed the park to be the ideal place for philosophizing. The country park has developed from a place in which one retired from the vicissitudes of everyday life, to a place where ideas for the future and the shaping of human life and its surroundings are formed.
The creation of parks has always had a connection to the way one views the world, human reflection and insight. Parks have always been based upon models of an ideological character. «Nature» is one such ideal. Based upon a Platonic or Rationalist point of view, «nature» is one of the superior principles upon which the world is based. This kind of «nature» model gives rise to parks that are based upon regular shapes, symmetry and extensive cultivation. Taking a more Empirical standpoint, «nature» is something we know nothing about until we explore it. This kind of «nature» gives rise to parks where so-called «untouched nature» becomes the source of inspiration. Breivik’s project is most closely linked to this latter tradition.
The term «landscape architect» stems from the end of the 17th century. The act of creating a park has been a task for persons of very different backgrounds. Sculptors and architects have both been important actors, historically speaking. One of the most influential landscape architects of our time, Lancelot «Capability» Brown (1715-83) called himself a «place-maker» – one who creates places.
Bård Breivik’s project for the lower reaches of the Taraldsvik River is «place-making» – the art of creating a place. He takes the flow of the river as his starting point, and translates water as a raw, vital element. Water is proclaimed to be life itself and this is made evident by the connection to sex and fertility. He constructs two polarities – heavy stone sculptures, respectively alluding to a vaginal cleft and a cylindrical phallus. Between these, he places large stone elements in such a way that those who follow the river from continuously come into contact with this crude solidity amongst the trees and bushes between the built-up areas.
The importance of vitality and crude solidity means that Bård Breivik’s landscape park cannot be interpreted as an Arcadian grove, as the photograph at first sight would seem to suggest. If we look at the photograph more closely, it contains something more. In between the pastoral green, electric cables and a mast can be seen. Taraldsvik River is – higher up the mountainside – the initial source for the production of electrical power. Bård Breivik’s park project may be interpreted as a counterpoint to this modern production of electrical power. His project has a corresponding and obvious brutality that links up to the inevitable brutality we also find in the construction of the large power stations and power lines. This park would create a counter balance, with traditional myths, stone and water as dominant forces. Will the park ever be completed?
Per Bj. Boym
The Window sees
The Window knows
The Window speaks
The Window is alone
The window brush stands on
the other side and
wants so much to cross
I felt there was powerful magic in the pillar.
The column was large and the portal not so large. I felt that the granite
had lots of karma, it was as if it spoke to me.
I could stand there looking for hours without getting bored.
I thought I should steal the column and have it in the garden.
But I had no crane.
I dreamt they were making it by hand, and that
the artist had a big beard.
I reacted to it being so tall, it could
fall down during the first storm. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Sten-Are Sivesind, LEIRFJORD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The water trickled down Bård Breivik’s sculpture in Taraldsvik as planned, and the children quickly put it to use.
Primitive force shall draw people to Elvedalen.
Headline in Fremover, 25.03.1993
The City of Narvik has inherited a nightmare project in Taraldsvikdalen.
Ruth Luneborg in Fremover, 24.09.1994
Breivik was chosen to make Narvik’s sculpture because he is internationally renowned. And so is Narvik – according to the arguments given.
However, the best part of the arrangement in Narvik is its integration in the local community.
The portal in Taraldsvik is still standing in the same place, five years after it was temporarily placed on a cement base beside the Taraldsvik river.