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Man tried to saw down bent flag art work

Published torsdag 31 augusti 2017 kl 15.44
Kulturhuset director of debates: The artist views the vandalism as part of the bigger art work
3:25 min
The flag has been erected in the centre of Sergels Torg.
The flag has been erected in the centre of Sergels Torg. Credit: Henrik Montgomery/TT

A man has been arrested in Sweden after trying to saw down a bent-over Swedish flag installed as an artwork in Stockholm's main square, Sergels Torg.

The installation of the artwork, named Du Gamla Du Fria after the Swedish national anthem, was arranged by Kulturhuset, the multi-purpose cultural centre based at the square.

Johan Wirfält, director of talks and debates at Kulturhuset, told Radio Sweden that the artist, Mattias Norström, had not been at all disturbed by the act of attempted vandalism. 

“He didn’t seem upset about it. I think he views it almost as being part of the bigger art work, so to speak,” said Wirfält.

The artwork has already generated strong reactions, with the head of the Christian Democrats in the city government calling it "tasteless" and "inappropriate" when it was officially unveiled on Wednesday.

Swedish Television meanwhile cited several art historians accusing Norström of plagiarising the Icelandic artist Eva Isleífsdottír, who made a similar work involving the Icelandic flag in 2008. 

Wirfält says he was not at all surprised by the attention that the art work has generated so far.

“Mattias’ work is sort of provocative in itself,” he said. “The symbol he uses - the Swedish national flag - is a symbol which has been very much a topic of debate over the past five or ten years. It's a symbol which has been appropriated by the nationalist movement in Sweden,” Wirfält said.

He added that Norström claimed never to have seen Isleífsdottír's work, and that the two artists appeared to have had a similar idea independently.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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