Artists News Norway

Artist creates ‘open wound’ to remember victims of Oslo attacks

Jonas Dahlberg unanimously chosen by the Norwegian jury for his radical and brave concept

A deep cut will be made into the headland facing the island of Utøya. Photo: © Jonas Dahlberg Studio

The Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg has been unanimously chosen to create the memorials to the victims of the July 2011 bombing and massacre by Anders Breivik in Oslo and Utøya, Norway. Dahlberg’s designs for both sites are based on absence, with slices cut into the city and natural landscape, like an “open wound”, the artist says in his proposal.

Dahlberg’s says his concept for the memorial in Sørbråten, facing the island of Utøya, where Breivik killed 69 people attending a youth camp, many of them teenagers, “reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died”. The stone removed will then be used to build a temporary walkway and eventually a permanent theatre in Oslo to remember the eight victims killed in the Government Quarter bombings. “The amphitheatre site is designed in such a way as not to promote spectatorship, for there is no stage,” Dahlberg says. “[It] will be an open, relational space that offers conditions for dialogue and interaction that is not directed or prescribed. The space itself will convey the specific topography that exists as a reflection of life amidst loss, healing, memory and a future to behold.”

In it’s decision to award the commission to Dahlberg, the memorial jury, which includes staff from the government’s public art body Koro, said the concept “is capable of conveying and confronting the trauma and loss that the 22 July events resulted in in a daring way. The proposal is radical and brave, and evokes the tragic events in a physical and direct manner”.

The memorial in Sørbråten and the walkway in Oslo are due to be completed in time for the anniversary of the attacks on 22 July 2015, but the permanent amphitheatre is dependent on the rebuilding of Oslo’s Government Administration Complex, and as yet has no schedule. A total of 27m krone ($4.5m) has been set aside by the Norwegian government to realise the projects.

For more info, visit the memorial project's website:

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10 Mar 14
14:1 CET


It is a great deal of harm to the natural landscape but captures and signifies the harm suffered. The work is a new path or way forward to pass or go through. It is very powerful.

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