Someone definitely didn’t like street artist AFK’s depiction of Norway’s former crusading justice minister, Sylvi Listhaug, as the victim of a crucifixion. His picture of her hanging on a cross was only allowed to stand for two days before being destroyed during the night.
AFK’s street art, which he created during the Easter weekend, became an instant attraction in Bergen and a topic of conversation all over the country on Monday and Tuesday. Spectators streamed by it, took photos and debate swirled in the media.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg ended up needing to comment on it as well, calling it highly provocative and worrying that it would not improve public exchange of political opinion. Others claimed Listhaug herself has been every bit as provocative, with her rhetoric recently threatening to bring down the conservative government, and that she met her match in the street artist that called her bluff over the right to freedom of expression.
By Wednesday morning, however, AFK’s painting (which had been praised by art critics and many passersby) was gone. First it was tagged, an incident that AFK himself commented upon with perhaps ironic gratitude for adding “the finishing touch” that accompanied his art “nicely.”
A few hours later, under cover of darkness, someone else simply covered the entire picture with black paint.
Members of the homeowners’ association of the residential building AFK had chosen for his street art in downtown Bergen had initially indicated they’d let the painting stand. Others in the neighbourhood had mixed opinions about that, and a decision was delayed until all residents had returned home from the Easter holidays and could have a meeting to discuss the street art’s future.
Now there’s nothing to discuss. “All street art is temporary,” Petter Nord, who follows the street art milieu in Bergen closely, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Wednesday morning. “It creates a shock the first day, then the shock transforms into debate, and then the media get involved.”
Nord said he hopes the provocative depiction of the controversial Listhaug will be inspiring and not only a subject of sarcasm or entertainment. “But it’s sad that it’s gone,” Nord told NRK.