Miles: Vigelandsparken

January 19, 2011

A sculpture on the bridge

Because I only have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, yesterday was a day for an adventure. I hopped on the T-bane and rode towards Vigeland Sculpture park.

The entire park is called Frogner park, and is fairly massive for an Oslo park. The sculptures are all sort of concentrated in the middle of the park. The weather was cold and foggy, so it took me a while to find where I was going. The river is frozen over, so I had no guidance there.

The first set of sculptures I saw was the bridge. Lining the sides of this walking bridge are clusters of people, children included, all in various positions. Some are embracing, some are almost leaping off of each other. There are families, couples, and the famous “grumpy boy.” (A tiny child clearly in the middle of a temper tantrum.)

At the end of the bridge there’s a giant fountain being held up by groups of men. Past the fountain is the centerpiece of the entire park—the Monolith. This giant (phallic) statue is literally tons of people piled onto each other. Because of the fog, as I walked towards it, it seemed to appear out of the abyss—super creepy and awesome. It was so tall I couldn’t clearly see to the top of it. (This also may have had something to do with the fog.)

I’ve never been a huge sculpture fan. I’m the sort of tourist who often takes pictures of important looking statues just to prove I saw them. I usually run past the ceramics area of a museum towards the “better” art. However, I felt oddly moved by these sculptures. The characters presented such a feeling of unity, of togetherness, of shared burden. Even if the people weren’t directly looking at each other, often they were touching in a way that said “I’m here” and showed intense amounts of family and community. Some were playful, some were clearly more serious. I didn’t examine closely enough to really be able to claim to understand what the motive of the work is, but I enjoyed it. Simplified, the pieces seemed to say “We are all together. We will share the weight.” Works for me.
Things I have learned:

SNOW IS NATURE. Okay, let me explain this one. I found myself thinking or mentioning to multiple people that I have way more tolerance for Oslo snow than I do for Minnesota snow. During my first North American Environmentalism class (The whole title is Renewing the Earth/Restoring Culture: Critical Evaluations of the American Green Tradition), the professor mentioned Norway’s lack of shoveling laws. “You know what we do with snow on the streets in the US? We get rid of it!” And then it hit me—I expect snow as a part of the Norwegian landscape. I know its coming, and I adapt. Why can’t I do the same in Minnesota? Maybe we are all meant to slow down in the Winter and just appreciate the nature of it all.

JEG HETER MILES. JEG KOMMER FRA USA. I started Norwegian class.



  1. I know you don’t know me, but I felt very compelled to comment. This post really touched me. I studied in Finland last semester, and took a trip to Oslo and Bergen at one point. The two pictures of sculptures that you posted were my favourites… but by the time I’d gotten to the park my camera had died (not just due to batteries – the poor thing was plastered…). So because you posted those two pictures, I now have access to them. When I saw one of them while I was there I almost started crying because I missed my boyfriend so terribly. Strong emotions are definitely tied to that park. I hope you have an amazing rest of your time studying there! It really is a once in a life time opportunity…Scandinavia will always hold a special place in my heart.

  2. It looks very atmospheric in the winter time. I visited a few weeks ago at the beginning of August and was very impressed. Thanks for the post!

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