“The Scream” brings climate awareness

Norway Cup is one of the biggest youth football tournaments in the world, gathering more than 40,000 youths from more than 50 countries. Norway Cup puts focus on the environment. This summer, several thousands of the participants created a Scream from Nature, standing in a Scream formation on the Ekeberg plateau. Photo: Scream From Nature / Facebook

Norway Cup is one of the biggest youth football tournaments in the world, gathering more than 40,000 youths from more than 50 countries. Norway Cup puts focus on the environment. This summer, several thousands of the participants created a Scream from Nature, standing in a Scream formation on the Ekeberg plateau. Photo: Scream From Nature / Facebook

Norwegian artist Lise Wulff knew she had to do something to bring awareness to a suffering environment. “The Scream From Nature,” was born with a little inspiration from an artist who went before her: Edvard Munch

Line Grundstad Hanke

Seattle, Wash.

Lise Wulff has made a name for herself both as an artist and now with the voice of “The Scream from Nature.” I am very fascinated and proud to let you in on her new adventures, and here are some questions I asked her. Please enjoy the answers:

Since we last met up and made an interview for Norwegian American Weekly in  2010, a lot has happened in your life and it looks like you have taken a new direction altogether with the “Scream from Nature” idea. How did this come about, and what made you think of this idea?

The environmental challenges we are facing have been laying as an uneasy feeling inside me for many years, growing stronger as the news gets worse, and pushed away when there is not so much written about climate change etc. in the papers. Some years ago, I started thinking about recreating the iconic anxiety-ridden face of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” in large scale on the ground. Munch himself wrote several texts about “The Scream,” saying that he felt a huge unending scream through nature.

My contemporary interpretation of the painting is that now we hear a different scream from nature. So to help nature be heard, I had the idea to recreate the shape of the face by drawing with sand on the lawn of Kontraskjæret, so you could stand on the murals of Akershus festning and look down at it.

(Author’s note: the original idea about Kontraskjæret was switched to Rådhusplassen).

That would be in the axis of Munch’s Scream, which is Ekebergåsen – the Oslo fjord. I discussed this idea with my friend Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, who is working in Pure CSR with social responsibility. She really liked the idea, and our collaboration started there, bringing us to the Norwegian NGO Bellona, which is helping out with environmental issues, and to the directors of the Munch museum and National Museum, which led to the inclusion of the project in this year’s celebration of Edvard Munch, Munch 150.

I had the pleasure of being in Oslo to see the project launch on Dec. 1, 2012 outside the City Hall. It made the news quickly with the Mayer of Oslo, Fabian Stang, there to speak about the event. It was a very cold and lovely evening that set a tone of calmness, yet excitement for this new adventure. How did this make you feel, and how did you get the next event from here?

HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway (right) and the Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås (center) create a “Scream” from bags of water (water being an important resource of renewable energy, plastic being a problem for our oceans) at the High Level Energy Meeting, with artist Lise Wulff to the left.

HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway (right) and the Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås (center) create a “Scream” from bags of water (water being an important resource of renewable energy, plastic being a problem for our oceans) at the High Level Energy Meeting, with artist Lise Wulff to the left.

I was very grateful for all the people joining in, and the atmosphere was special, with both children and grown-ups taking part, both people who knew about the event and showed up, and people who happened to pass by and also join in. Lighting torches and candles is a way to enjoy the cold and dark winter time.

We also put focus on the fact that you should recycle the empty metal containers. Many are not aware of that. In Norway, we throw away the metal equivalent of 30,000 bikes every year, just from tea light candles! Once you know that, you start recycling the empty containers. So, in addition to creating a visual language that can be felt, we have facts about what each and every one of us can do. I believe that both facts and feelings are needed to create change!

I found it very exciting that you are bringing the ideas of children and schools into the project. How did the children react to this, and what was the outcome?

I believe strongly in collaboration, and I collaborate with Gyldendal’s internet platform for schools (www.salaby.no). They have very interesting short films about Munch, as well as fun tasks for kids where you can color your own version of “The Scream,” for example. The site is free to use for everybody during the Munch jubileum (the entire year of 2013). I have been visiting some schools myself, and my impression is that the pupils really enjoy being creative themselves. One example: The children collected plastic lids (from milk containers), then we went out into nature and they made a “Scream” with the lids. They also continued using their creativity to make “Screams” with their bikes, bags, helmets, sand, cones, seaweed etc. After that, we went back to the school, and one group watched the Munch films while another group studied the problem of plastic in the oceans. And then they told each other about what they had learned. I really like things to be concrete, tactile – for me at least, this is a good way of learning and understanding, so I hope the pupils went home with some new knowledge, both about Munch and the environment. More about the use of the project in schools can be found at: http://thescreamfromnature.com/?page_id=573

You seem to get noticed by politicians as well, and are asked to speak at different functions, so you have more or less acted as a spokesperson. Did you have any training in public speaking?

Actually, I have not been very comfortable speaking in front of many people, so before this project I tended to avoid such situations. This project has pushed me through that. I guess when you have something you really want to convey, you cross some borders. I am happy about that “side effect” of it. Now I enjoy showing pictures from what has been done related to the project, and telling about it. This also gives me the pleasure of meeting many interesting persons, from eager youth who think about how to solve the plastic in the ocean problem, to people with great knowledge within the fields of art and the fields of environment.

What is the next opportunity for “The Scream from Nature” project?

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has become a collaborating partner on the project. I was invited to take part in their Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya in February, which gathered together 60 environment ministers, and with 130 countries represented. The delegates took part in making a “Scream” with paper lanterns.

Now, on World Environment Day (June 5), UNEP is spreading our Global Scream Movement, where we invite everybody to make their own scream and share it on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/thescreamfromnature or Instagram using hashtag #thescreamfromnature.

Furthermore, during Norway Cup in Oslo in July (the world’s largest youth soccer tournament), the world’s largest “Scream” will be created, with several thousands of the participants forming the shape of the “Scream” at Ekebergsletta, and we will document it from the air.

Have you had any time to do your art, and if so, how has all this affected your creativity? 

I consider working with this project as art related. When it comes to my sculptures and painting, I have had less time for that in the last year, naturally. But once in a while I go to my studio – I love the feeling there! And I took part in an exhibition in London before Easter, at ArtEco Gallery, so I worked with my woven stones to show there.

You have made a presence in the art community, so what can we expect from Lise Wulff the artist in the future?

Hard to tell. I do not plan in that way, but follow the “energy” – what inspires me.

For more information about the Scream from Nature, and many more fun pictures, visit their Facebook page.

This article originally appeared in the July, 12, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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