Cruelty Has a Human Heart at Oslo Cathedral from June 24th – September 28th 2015

by Karen Hagen

On July 22nd 2011, a native Norwegian committed the most gruesome acts. Our response was to walk in processions carrying roses and to talk about more love, more openness. Gradually I felt we became engrossed in our own goodness and our admirable reactions. What had become of other feelings such as anger, frustration and injustice?

Lise Bjørne Linnert cut out newspaper articles and searched in historical material, and found numerous texts that challenged our self-image. The search led me to philosopher Lars Fr. H. Svendsen´s book: “ The Philosophy of Evil” and a question if he would collaborate on an art project: Cruelty Has a Human Heart.

At the core in Cruelty Has a Human Heart are 83 quotes, a cacophony of known and unknown voices, ranging from politicians, historians, philosophers, murderers and torturers, each reflecting on evil. In workshops 83 different hands, young, elder, women and men, have written and embroidered these quotes on painted patches of canvas. The embroidered quotes fill a space of 3 x 6 m.

What evokes this in us when the place is Oslo Cathedral? How do you open the memories of 22 July 2011 right here?

Evil is uncomfortable to try to understand; it is easier to keep it at bay, thinking that it belongs to «other». In citation number. 5 states:

«One who does not see any similarity between himself and his enemy, who believe that all evil is in the other and nothing in himself, is tragically destined to resemble its enemy. But, that by recognizing evil in itself, discovers that he is the enemy, is really different. By refusing to see the similarity, we reinforce it; by acknowledging the narrows we it. «(Tzvetan Todorov)

There will be several arrangement during the exhibition period. Information will be posted. The book has text in both English and Norwegian and can be ordered from all bookstores in Norway or through the online bookshop