The Beauty of Having No Expectations

I left the ship and took to the left, following the instructions Google Maps was giving me. Everybody else took the opposite direction, towards the fortress they had been advised to visit. The weather was foggy, the village seemed deserted, and I was all by myself for the first time in a week. As I reached the church, I looked behind me. Not a soul in sight, and something else… proper silence. I knew very little about the place I was heading to. If it hadn’t been for Bjarne recommending it, who knows, I might have stayed on the ship. The structure appeared in the fog, I could barely see it.

Walking in, it seemed quite simple: a long hallway with information about each victim. But as I made my way through the endless corridor, impressions built up leaving me speechless. (There was no one to talk to anyway.)

How do you make people care about something that happened 400 years ago? The answer might be right there in this remote village of Northern Norway. Design a dignified tribute, don’t let the victims remain anonymous, or just a number in history books. Create an ethereal experience, make us forget where we are, if only for a little while, and give us just enough information to get me thinking. Give us space to think.

And then it was time to go back to the ship.

Steilneset — designed by architect Peter Zumthor & artist Louise Bourgeois, opened in 2011, located in Vardø, Norway.

According to Wallpaper:

Standing on the shores of the strait that separates Vardøya from Norway, Steilneset is a brooding, complex structure. A regimented forest of wooden supports, it stalks across the rough rocky ground on the edge of the small town of Vardø. Designed by architect Peter Zumthor and artist Louise Bourgeois, Steilneset is a memorial, a physical structure for the remembrance of the sins of an earlier, unforgiving and rather more brutal era.

In the dark days of the early 17th century, the witch mania that infected almost all of Europe reached this small fishing community and tore it apart. Armed with accusations and confessions — the texts of which have survived the centuries intact — the accidents, illnesses, errors and complexities of a harsh rural existence were instead attributed to 91 unfortunates, all of whom were believed to have made a personal pact with the devil. Over the course of roughly 100 years, those accused of such witchcraft were either burnt at the stake or tortured to death.