Cruelty Has a Human Heart (2013 - 2014)

Collaboration with philosopher Lars Fr. H Svendsen

“Someone who sees no resemblance between himself and his enemy, who believes that all the evil is in the other and none in himself, is tragically destined to resemble his enemy. But someone who, recognizing evil in himself, discovers that he is like his enemy is truly different. By refusing to see the resemblance, we reinforce it; by admitting it we diminish it. The more I think I´m different, the more I am the same; the more I think I´m the same, the more I´m different…”Tzvetan Todorov


July 22nd Norway was exposed to terror, a young Norwegian native murdered 87 people. There was an immediate response after the attach that seemed pure and authentic – we marched with roses, the term more openness, more love to fight terror was expressed over and over. But after a little while the response didn’t feel so authentic to me anymore, it felt more like we were in love with our own good reactions…I started to collect articles that scratched what I feel is a very polished Norwegian surface. Eventually this process led me to ask the Norwegian philosopher and writer, Lars Svendsen, to collaborate with me on this project titled  Cruelty Has a Human Heart. Svendsen is the author of the book “The Philosophy of Evil”

Through text, colors, stitches and dialogue we examine the theme of evil. The starting point is a large number of  quotes gathered from philosophy, religion, litterateur, politics and more, all are reflections on evil. In workshops the theme are discussed and the quotes handwritten by participants on painted canvas patches. The text is later hand stitched following the written lines.


The embroidered patches are installed on a 3m x 6,5 m iron construction, to be seen from both sides. An archive follows the installation presenting the authors of the quotes, name of the one handwritten the quote and name of the embroiderer. The viewers are invited to lift the canvas patches to discover and read quotes underneath. Link to the archive here


The project is generously supported by the Institution Fritt Ord (Freedom of Speech) and Akershus Kunstsenter (Akershus Art Center)