• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Police probe Swede's Holocaust ash art work

7 Dec 2012, 15:26

Published: 07 Dec 2012 15:26 GMT+01:00

Carl Michael von Hausswolff claims he used ashes he took from a crematorium at the Majdanek concentration camp in 1989, mixing them with water to create the painting entitled "Memory Works".

The monochrome work, featuring vertical brushstrokes in a rectangle representing the suffering of the victims, is on display at the Martin Bryder Gallery in the southern Swedish town of Lund.

A member of the public filed a police complaint against von Hausswolff on December 5 for "disturbing the peace of the dead", calling the artwork a "desecration of human remains", said police inspector Annika Johansson.

She said the police complaint was "very unusual", noting that von Hausswolff took the ashes in Poland, not in Sweden. It was unclear if using the ashes was considered a crime in the Scandinavian country.

Police said the prosecutor's office would investigate the case and decide whether to press charges.

Gallery owner Martin Bryder refused to comment on the work when contacted, and said the artist was also unavailable.

On the gallery's website, von Hausswolff explained that he travelled to Poland in 1989 for an exhibit and while there visited the Majdanek concentration camp.

"I collected some ashes from one of the crematoriums but didn't use it for the exhibit -- the material was too emotionally charged with the cruelties that had taken place there," he said.

"In 2010 I pulled out the jar of ashes and decided to 'do something' with it. I took out a few sheets of watercolour paper and decided to cover just a rectangular space with ashes mixed with water.

"When I stepped back and looked at the pictures, they 'spoke' to me: figures appeared... as if the ashes contained energy or memories or 'souls' from people... people tortured, tormented and murdered by other people in one of the most ruthless wars of the 20th century."

Swedish author and doctor Salomon Schulman condemned the exhibit as "offensive".

Story continues below…

"I'm never going to step foot inside this gallery to view this desecration of Jewish bodies. Who knows -- maybe some of the ashes come from some of my relatives," he wrote in a debate article in regional daily Sydsvenskan.

The gallery's website said the exhibit could only be visited by appointment.

AFP/The Local/at

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

16:57 December 7, 2012 by Cornelius Hamelberg
A sick man. Like Lars Vilks.
17:52 December 7, 2012 by Toonie
Another shallow stunt with a lot of vacuous verbiage justifying whatever talent the artist possesses. If the theft of human ashes from any site commemorating their lives is not regarded as theft, it should be. I would expect to hear condemnation from the Polish ambassador to Sweden, at the very least. Let's hope there will be a few cultural commentators in Sweden not intimidated by the 'von' in the man's handle and will take him to critical task with some sharp questions, for once. Do these pretentious dimwits not realize that posturing on the unearned moral high-ground looks like nothing more than profiteering from other people's suffering. Feeble 'concepts' like this do nothing to express it, which is the artist's true role. It ought to be the gallery owner's or curator's job to alert artists to their self-centered follies. But there's probably less money in that.
19:19 December 7, 2012 by calebian22
Ah yes, not doubt there will be protests, embassy attacks, and murders perpetuated by Jews all over the world because of this, err, maybe not. That sounds familiar though. I wonder which group does that?
19:25 December 7, 2012 by Trenatos
I hope he goes to jail.
Today's headlines
Swedish police backtrack on 'gunfight' claims
The scene of the shooting on June 22nd. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Police have retracted a claim that a suspected gunman had fired shots at a patrol unit before officers shot him dead.

Crayfish poachers send Swedes' blood boiling
Has anyone seen this crayfish? Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Oh no, not just before crayfish season!

Police hunt suspected gunman, 22, in Malmö
Rosengård Centrum. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

Malmö police are looking for a 22-year-old suspect in connection with a shooting at a shopping centre in Rosengård.

Really old stinky cheese found on royal Swedish shipwreck
A diamond ring, the stinky cheese and gold coins. Photo: Lars Einarsson/Kalmar County Museum

Swedish scientists have discovered what is believed to be 340-year-old cheese on board a 17th century shipwreck.

Man charged with groping girls at kids' football cup
The accused in court. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

A 36-year-old sports manager whose team was sent home from Sweden after he was accused of groping three teenage girls at an international children's football tournament now faces trial.

Concern over barrage of fake Russian news in Sweden
The Russian propaganda site Sputnik News

Sweden is being subjected to constant disinformation campaigns by Russia and Isis, according to authorities.

'Let refugees go to uni while they wait': demand
A student at Stockholm University. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Asylum seekers in Sweden should be allowed to start university studies while they are waiting for decisions on their cases, it has been proposed.

The Local List
Ten Swedish phrases you only hear in summer
Let's work on that tan. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Summer always leaves foreigners baffled by Swedes' unique seasonal habits. Here's The Local's guide to navigating small talk when the sun comes out.

So Sweden has high taxes? Not as high as you might think
A taxpayer hands in their tax declaration. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

So you think Swedes pay a lot in tax? Others pay much more, according to a new study.

Man injured in shooting at Malmö shopping mall
Rosengård Centrum in Malmö. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Police cordoned off an area around a shopping centre in Malmö after a man was shot on Tuesday afternoon.

Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
Politics
Why Sweden's high taxes are not as high as you think
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
What's haggis in a condom doing on Swedish children's TV?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
Blog updates

26 July

A summer of change; a summer of beauty (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"You would have had to try hard to miss the political upheavals in the UK after…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,361
jobs available