Artist: Annalise Josefsen
This is a metal sculpture, which is five meters long and one and a half meters high. A simple structure, forming two imaginary floors. The sculpture may resemble a three-dimensional petroglyph or drawing. Many human figures, in the same attire or uniforms, dance across the line on the two levels or floors. The figures have small details in red and brass. They may seem vulnerable, but have cohesion.
The artwork War Dance stands out from the rest of this room, which is mostly home to busts of rulers of the ancient world. The artist responsible for “War Dance”, Annelise Josefsen, describes the setting as follows:
Perhaps it’s a bit of a disrespectful thing to say, but these busts, which are very severe-looking, in a way resemble bigwigs engaged in political decision-making, while in the background we see ordinary people dancing around and laughing.
The artist Annelise Josefsen was born after the end of the Second World War. She grew up in the far north of Norway, a region where everything had to be rebuilt after the war.
When people returned home, they found that everything they had owned was gone. And so to start with, they just used anything they could find for rebuilding.
The war and its consequences are themes that she has taken into her work. Her sculpture “War Dance” is made of metal and plastic, plus acrylic and textiles, but is inspired by twigs from dwarf birch trees that she found on the Finnmark Plateau.
I’ve used twigs in my work for a long time – Y-shaped twigs like ones used for dowsing. And I’ve divided up the twigs and then assembled them to make a complete sculpture, and gradually it became a war dance.
It was when I dressed the figures in uniforms that the idea of war came up. Even when we’re children we can wave sticks and it makes us feel stronger. And when we all wear the same uniform, then we feel ourselves to be part of a herd, and that makes us feel strong.
Currently there are somewhere between 25 and 30 wars taking place around the world. Many of them are civil wars. All wars have a brutal impact on civilians.
When it really matters, people don’t get to decide things for themselves. You get sent here and there, and get hyped up to go to war.
So, in a way, one is dancing to other people’s tunes, and we are continuing to dance – wars are happening all the time.
Even so, this sculpture does have a sense of inner light that transcends culture and history:
This war dance is perhaps more of a peace dance, in the sense that in a way the war has ended. These people are not walking with their heads stooped towards the ground, in a way they are dancing.