Dahlberg, Jonas - VM - Reinier Sonneveld
Jonas Dahlberg: Wounded Landscape
The Wonded Landscape
by Reinier Sonneveld
We all know the bewilderment after a great loss that the world just keeps on turning on. That things do not seem to care feels like a huge insult to what has happened. The sun should disappear, the earth should tear apart, buildings break!
This happened only once: at Jesus’ crucifixion.
That was the exception. Hence the Dutch artist Armando (who needs to be more widely known) coined the term ‘guilty landscape’. Armando declares the landscape guilty, not because it lets atrocities take place, but because it refuses to bear testimony. Whatever happens, it just keeps on growing. The forest is not guilty of resignation, but of erasing the traces, even though it witnessed everything: ‘All these wood edges. All these condemnable trees. You can’t move there for the guilt, tree by tree,’ Armando jotted down in one of his diaries.
The Norwegian artist Jonas Dahlberg punishes the landscape for its guilt.
Before July 22, 2011 almost nobody knew of the small-island-in-a-lake Utøya. Then Anders Breivik killed 69 young people there. Since that time it is impossible to think of this island without thinking of the 69. This will still be the case in a century. Still the trees did not flinch. Everything kept on growing, imperturbably. Even the birds sang on and on.
That’s why Dahlberg now wounds the island. He calls it a ‘memory-wound’. Also the island will have to commemorate what we cannot forget. And in a century, even in 1000 years, the wound will still be visible.
Maybe even on the new earth. Also when Jesus was risen, he still had his scars. Why should the earth not keep its scars on judgment day?
Dahlberg’s Wounded Landscape is still a plan. Next year, exactly four years after the wounding, the ‘commemoration void’ will be unveiled. A meditative commemoration path will run across the island towards the cut, ending in an observatory where people can read the 69 names on the opposite wall. The sand that is taken out of the cut will form a second monument in
A void/empty space is actually quite mysterious. Without whatever surrounds it, it would be nothing. In the Christian tradition evil has often been compared with a void/empty space (in Latin: privatio boni). That is a bold and audacious vision. It means that evil is nothing without goodness, that it can only steal.
That also means that goodness truly leads the way. It is always in the majority. That is the comfort offered by these landscapes that keep on budding and flowering after horrendous events. Their beauty refuses to be subjugated by a Breivik, a Hitler, an ISIS, and always turns out to be stronger.
Jonas Dahlberg: Wounded Landscape, 2015,
Jonas Dahlberg (b. 1970) lives and works in
Reinier Sonneveld (b. 1978) creates films and writes (mainly theological) books. He was the youngest writer in the
ArtWay Visual Meditation October 19, 2014