News Norway

Paintings to be removed from Oslo building over terror attack associations

Staff complain about Vanessa Baird’s works, although they were made before July 2011

One of Vanessa Baird's paintings that was removed from the Ministry of Health and Care Services building. Photo: Trond Isaksen/KORO

After complaints that one painting reminded employees of the 2011 terror attack by Anders Behring Breivik, three large works by the Oslo-born artist Vanessa Baird, commissioned by Public Art Norway for a government building in the Norwegian capital, are to be taken down.

“It is understandable that the employees associated 22 July with the pictures,” says Bjorn Inge Larsen, the permanent under secretary at the Ministry of Health and Care Services, which is housed in the building. “One can see the government building and flying paper… I understand their associations… It is important to take care on these.”

However Ane Hjort Guttu, a consultant for Public Art Norway, says that “there are no clear statistics showing how many are affected”. She also points out that the paintings were made before the terror attack leading to the suggestion that there may be other reasons for the rejection.

Two of Baird’s paintings had already been installed, but they will now be removed. Svein Bjorkas, the director of Public Art Norway says: “We have… pulled out the two other works [from] the government building. We wanted the paintings [to be] be realised as one piece according to the contract with the artist. We want [them] to be shown in context. It is unfortunate that they won’t accept it.” The works probably will not be removed before 2014, however, until Public Art Norway finds an appropriate place to display them all together.

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