Monday, December 10, 2018

"Welcome to the Witch Capital of Norway"


Once the cod capital of the Arctic, Vardø, population 1,875, perches like a fish-scented mirage on the edge of the Arctic Circle in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county. While the Visit Vardø website makes the town look like Williamsburg with puffins and Aurora Borealis, it isn’t. There are only four ways to Vardø — none are good


Today’s Vardø may be trying to reinvent itself as a tourist attraction (bird-watching is its other big draw), but three centuries ago, it was the beating, psychotic heart of a major witch panic. Co-designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, the Steilneset Memorial honors the 91 people who died, most burned at the stake, in the witch persecution that started in 1600 and ended in 1692.


it’s pitch-black night for two months straight


Louise Bourgeois’ black glass cube, The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved . . . is starkly alien. Its glass shelter houses a plain metal chair that burns with an eternal flame, and seven looming mirrors reflect the blazing chair, each mirror angled differently, causing a hall-of-mirror refraction. Nothing about Bourgeois’ cube is natural, and placed on that treeless plain, nothing about it looked right.