A series of painted yellow “n” markings on tree trunks guided us down the steep hill towards Nimis, a large structure made of driftwood by artist Lars Vilks. As a result of some controversy between the artist and building codes in Sweden, Nimis, and a second stone piece by Vilks called Arx, is now in the micro-nation of Ladonia. This change in “country” is an appropriate metaphor for how one feels uncovering Nimis seemingly out of nowhere in the woods of Sweden. Climbing through the maze to the top of the towers, all while avoiding rogue nails and squeezing against the “walls” to let others pass, reminded me of that childlike excitement and wonder I felt when building forts, climbing trees, or inventing imaginary worlds in my backyard.
As I trekked down to the coast from within Kullaberg, a nature reserve located in the northwest region of Skåne, I thought of how unique it was to be heading towards an unknown destination, an installation I knew little about and had never seen a picture of. What would it look like? Would there be many people there? How much farther?
In an era of Google Image search, camera phones, twitter pictures, etc. it’s become more and more rare to visit a museum, building, or cultural destination without having seen an image of the destination beforehand. Just a few weeks earlier, I had been to Halong Bay – I had inadvertently seen many photos of the Bay before visiting and also looked up some myself. By seeing photos in advance, the beauty of the geography was in no way diminished, but the visual surprise was certainly altered in some small or large way. And, without any visuals of Nimis prior to visiting, I think I experienced the place in a more “pure” way, which is to say without consciously or unconsciously comparing it to my expectations.
When did you last have a visual surprise with a building or piece of art?