Witch-Burning Steilneset Memorial by Peter Zumthor & Louise Bourgeois

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Witch-Burning Steilneset Memorial by Peter Zumthor & Louise Bourgeois

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and the late French-born artist Louise Bourgeoise collaborated in the hauntingly beautiful and poetic Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway, an arresting memorial to 91 people, 77 women and 14 men, who were burned at the stake here in the 17th century for the crime of witchcraft.

Sturla J. Stalsett, general secretary of the Vardø Church City Mission, pointed out during the opening ceremonies presided over by Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway, that the memorial is meant to remind us of the ongoing danger of collectively creating scapegoats. If historical circumstances seem peculiar now, the intent behind the work addresses larger moral claims.