UPDATED: Controversial street art depicting Norway’s former justice minister Sylvi Listhaug hanging from a cross has undergone a reawakening. It had first been tagged, then painted over with black paint, but a group of students in Bergen managed to resurrect it, and it quickly attracted purchase offers.
The painting was hanging on the wall of their apartment this weekend, reports newspaper Bergens Tidende, with offers to buy it streaming in. By Sunday, the bidding was up to a reported NOK 260,000 (USD 33,000). On Tuesday TV2 reported it had been sold for at least NOK 260,000,
“We’ve also contacted the street artist AFK (who painted it) to see if he wants the painting back,” one of the students, Anna Bjørnflaten, told state broadcaster NRK. Offers coming in appear to be serious, from both private parties and galleries that want to put it on exhibit.
One of her roommates, law student Ingrid Sofie Wentzel, had said she was sorry she hadn’t seen the much-discussed painting before it was painted over. It had been created by AFK on the corner wall of a residential building on Fosswinckelsgate, not far from Grieg Hallen.
It wasn’t painted directly on the wall, however, so the students decided to see whether they could take it down and save it. They set alarm clocks for 3:20am, “got dressed, went to the corner and took the picture down within 20 minutes,” Bjørnflaten said.
Then they needed to remove the black paint and tagging. After trying chlorine and even vodka, they discovered that nail polish remover did the trick. It also obscured some of the lettering on the painting, but it’s otherwise basically intact.
It remained unclear whether AFK will ultimately want it returned for his own collection or go along with its sale. Wentzel said the students want to keep it, but they won’t all be living together for much longer and will thus need to make a decision before summer.
NRK also reported that not all the feedback the students have received has been positive. Some critics of both the art and their rescue and repair of it “have written that they want to see us crucified,” Wentzel told NRK on Sunday. She said they had all stopped reading the often inflammatory comment fields tied to media coverage of their effort to preserve the artwork, and let the public know that it hadn’t been destroyed.
(See photos of the students with the repaired Listhaug crucifixion painting here – external link to NRK’s website, in Norwegian.)