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Swede's terror memorial 'rape of the landscape'

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Memory Wound by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg. File photo courtesy of the artist.
09:46 CET+01:00
A Swedish artist's design for a memorial near Norway's Utøya island would be "impossible" to build, and faces opposition from locals who want to block a plan they says risks "scarring" the landscape in a tribute to the dead.

"Memory wound", proposed by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg, won the design competition for the memorial at the end of last month, winning over the judges with its bold idea of cutting a three-and-a-half-metre slice through the Sørbråten peninsular which juts out towards Utøya.

In the arresting conceptual images Dahlberg submitted, the exposed surfaces of the slice are polished to a marble-like sheen, with the names of the dead carved on the far side. Images of "Memory Wound" were reproduced in newspapers and websites across the world, with the bold idea of creating a "permanent scar" on the landscape generally commended internationally. 

Yet the design has sparked controversy. Locals living near Utøya last month launched a campaign to block the memorial, attacking it as a "rape of the landscape", while the parents of one of the dead said they did not want their daughter's name on the memorial and had never been asked about it.

Also, Norwegian geologist Hans Erik Foss Amundsen believes that Sørbråten's soft rock will make it impossible for Dahlberg to realize his idea at all, even if it received a final go-ahead.

"The rocks are fractured and porous. They are very poorly suited for these kind of facades," he told Norway's NRK channel. "To create this monument would be like cutting through a bunch of fractured, soft pebbles. The monument might crumble immediately." 

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Svein Bjørkås, the head of public art body Koro which commissioned the work, maintained on Sunday that both the artist and the agency were aware of the issue, but were still consulting with experts on how to overcome it.

"We are aware that there is varying rock quality in the area," he said. "That is the artist's responsibility. He is now working with contractors who will work out the technical aspects of this."

Dahlberg plans to begin excavating the site before the summer, and the aim is for the memorial to be completed by July 22nd 2015.

The far-right terrorist Anders Breivik unleashed a gun massacre at a Labour Party youth camp on the island on July 22nd 2011, leading to the deaths of 69 people, most from gun wounds and the rest from drowning as they tried to escape the killer. A further eight people were killed in a bomb Breivik detonated at the government quarters in Oslo.  

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