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Steilneset - Closing Ritual (CoSA) (NO). 2019

Produced by
LATERNA // Marianne Skjeldal and Inger-Reidun Olsen

In June 2019, LATERNA worked together with Keith Hennessy, Dohee Lee, Geir Hytten and Milla Wexels Riser at Steilneset in Vardø, Norway, side by side with Steilneset Memorial, also known as the Witch Monument, where so many people had to give their lives - burnt at the stake, being accused of witchcraft and magic in the 17th century. Professor Liv Helene Willumsen, came to stay with us, to share her knowledge of the witch trials and judicial protocols from this time, and together we performed different tasks to listen to and learn from the landscape and its history. After a week's time Lisa Jeannin and Rolf Schuurmans, alchemists and artists from Sweden came to join us to work alongside us with local plants and herbs in a spagyric manner, bringing even a special made instrument to collect ‘spiritus mundi’ from the Arctic.

Listening to the landscape as a 14-day ritual we were asking ourselves what we could learn from history,- if it is possible to befriend a landscape? Could we possibly create healing in this place, where so many people, on false premises, had to give their lives? On this loaded piece of land, may we, as visitors, invite something new? In two weeks time, being with each other, meeting with locals and spending time in this very landscape performing different practices, we made a performance in the form of a Closing Ritual. In relation to this particular history with its cruelty and injustice, we gathered people in this place on June 24th with a new intention; Together reclaiming our bond to nature and to healing forces.

The performance ritual was open to all and shared our dialogue with Steilneset. As part of the ritual people were invited to come to taste elixirs made on local herbs and medicinal plants prepared in our “lavvo” that had served as a lab for the alchemists, share thoughts and stories and stay with us in this very place.

With: Camilla Wexels Riser, Dohee Lee, Geir Hytten, Inger-Reidun Olsen, Keith Hennessy, Marianne Skjeldal, Lisa Jeannin, Rolf Schuurmans, Liv Helene Willumsen

Collaborators: Varanger Museum, Nasjonale Turistveger. Supported by: Norwegian Arts Council and Fond for Lyd og Bilde.

Steilneset Memorial is part of the National Tourist Routes; the memorial commemorates the victims of the witchcraft processes in Finnmark in the 17th century, in which 91 persons were executed. The history is conveyed through excerpts from the original judicial protocols, and art and architecture on an international scale, the result of a unique collaboration between the artist Louise Bourgeouis and the architect Peter Zumthor. The memorial is part of the Steilneset Culture Path that encompasses large parts of Vardø city’s history.

                                                          Photos: André Wulf
                         ALL RIGHTS SERVED Inger-Reidun Olsen // 2022