Between 1598 and 1692, as the result of a witchhunt, ninety-one peopled were burned to death on the northern end of Norway, on the island of Vardo. A fortress and a church were built on the seashore spot of the stakes, and it is this same place that was chosen to be the site of a memorial conceived by the French artist Louise Bourgeois – a flame on a chair enclosed in a truncated wooden cone and reflected in seven oval-shaped mirrors – and two small buildings: a capsule containing the Bourgeois installation and an information center for visitors. The form and material quality of these constructions resonates as much with the tragedy that took place there as with the beauty of the surrounding landscape, defined by the poetic Nordic light: while the flaming chair is enveloped in an ethereal black-dyed glass box that is a counterpoint to the white of the ramp-pier outside – a symbol of the innocence of the victims –, the wood is a metaphor of the horrible burnings as well as of the souls of the dead.
Steilneset Memorial en la isla de Vardo, Noruega.
Andrew Meredith, Bjarne Riesto