Oslo rejects “death house”

Controversial artist’s sculpture house will not be built next to Munch’s Oslo studio

Bjarne Melgaard

Photo: Vimeo / Astrup Fearnly Museet
Described by The New York Times as the “projectile vomiter” of the art world, Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard is no stranger to controversy.

The Local

Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard’s battle to build his “death house” near the site of Edvard Munch’s Oslo studio has come to an end, with a majority of Oslo councilors voting to stop the project.

“We want the site where the death house was intended to be placed to remain a green area for the benefit of the local population, and we encourage Bjarne to find a new site for the project,” city councilors from the Labor, Socialist Left, Green, and Progress parties said in a joint statement.

The A House to Die In project started in 2011 when the New York artist contacted Olav and Frederik Selvaag, the brothers who control Norway’s Selvaag Group, about building a sculpture that would double as a house for Melgaard and his parents.

The brothers made available an empty plot next to Edvard Munch’s winter studio, where their family’s Villa Kikkut had stood until it was demolished in 1989.

The architecture firm Snøhetta then worked with Melgaard to design an angular black wooden house with Melgaard’s drawings etched into it, resting on columns made out of his cartoon-like white animal sculptures. The structure has been likened to a UFO.

Melgaard had previously agreed to move the house so that only the road leading up to it encroaches on public land, but while the national and city conservation authorities have accepted the new plans, the city’s politicians have now decided to put an end to the project.

In a text message sent to Aftenposten newspaper, Melgaard said he was not surprised. “There is great opposition to new things in Norway,” he said, refusing any further comment on whether he would seek a new site for the project.

Melgaard, described by The New York Times as the “projectile vomiter” of the art world, is no stranger to controversy.

His work Chair, fashioned from a mannequin of a black woman bound up with bondage equipment, caused a sensation when Dasha Zhukova, the art collector then married to Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich was photographed for a magazine article sitting on it in 2014.

Melgaard has used photographs of pedophile pornography featuring half-naked boys in his art, and argues he has no ethical responsibility for what his art displays.

This article was originally published on The Local.

This article originally appeared in the September 21, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.