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'Memory Wound' Will Be Stark Reminder Of Norway's Massacre

If you've had a chance to visit the Sept. 11 memorials at ground zero in Manhattan, the Pentagon and western Pennsylvania — or perhaps have been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — then you have a sense of the powerful emotions that such places can stir up.

This week, the design was chosen for a memorial to the victims of the July 22, 2011, attacks in Norway that left 77 people dead and several hundred more wounded. Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg's vision for what's being called a "memory wound" seems likely to join the list of such memorials that evoke strong feelings.

Dahlberg's concept cuts a channel through a peninsula that faces Utoya Island, where 69 of the victims — most of them young people attending a political camp — were shot and killed by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

The architecture site DesignBoom.com writes that in Dahlberg's design:

"Visitors are guided along a wooden pathway through the forest, creating a contemplative journey to the site of the cut. A pathway traverses into a tunnel, leading within the rocky landscape directly to the dramatic edge of the void.

"At the border ... [visitors] can see the flat vertical stone surface of the other side, where the names of those who died will be visibly inscribed into the terrain. The names will be close enough to read clearly yet ultimately out of reach, an acknowledgement of what is forever irreplaceable."

TheJournal.ie adds that "in a touching addition, the landmass which is taken away to create the void will be moved to a second memorial site at the Government Quarter in Oslo. It will be used to create a path between two of the buildings there, with the names of the eight people killed in Breivik's bomb there the same day inscribed along the edge."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 19, 2014 at 11:00 PM CDT
The "memory wound" art installation is to be on a peninsula near Utoya Island, not on the island itself as our post originally reported.
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.