At the exhibition PORT OF ART in Kotka,
Finland summer 1995

This was a large international art exhibition, mainly financed by the town of Kotka itself, a community of 60.000 people. The artist had a 10-metre high border control post* built on the town square where, at some time or another, most of the inhabitants stroll past. Five Finnish girls took turns every morning (except Sundays) to go into the border post lookout room and read out the names and addresses of the inhabitants of Kotka, adding to each the Finnish for “Thank you for your contribution to art “. By reading for just over an hour at a time, the whole roll-call was delivered in the space of three months.
In this work, Thorvaldur was considering various questions such as:

  • Where is the border between art and the public?
  • How personal can public art be?
  • When does the personal become public?
  • Isn’t it about time to name the “sponsors” who are never named, namely the taxpayers?
  • Does it make a work of art more interesting to an individual if he or she is an (in–) direct participant in its creation? (By thanking someone for something, you also make him or her responsible for it).
  • Does a work with a credit list of 60.000 individuals become a more important or better work of art as a result?

*Designed in collaboration with Studio Granda architects, Reykjavik

three of the young ladies reading out from the control posts lookout room
first sketches for the control post the control post on the town square of Kotka
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