Festive birthday celebration in the name of reconciliation.
Knut Hamsun's birthday, August 4th., was celebrated in Hamarøy with laying of the wrath, photo exhibition, birthday cakes and disclosure of a new Hamsun-bust by Nico Widerberg.
This year it is exactly 50 years since the first
Hamsun-bust was unveiled in Hamarøy. The bust, which was
a present from the Greek sculptor and Hamsun-admirer
Georg Themistokles Malteso, was unveiled on August 13th
1961 by Lars Berg, writer and World War 2 resistance
fighter. That of all people Lars Berg, who was imprisoned
during the war and who had experienced terrible things
himself, that he was the first to support celebration of
the writer Knut Hamsun, is the most clear sign of the
will to reconciliation and commitment to the
constitutional state. It was therefore a scoop, that
Hamarøy managed to get Lars Berg's son, Einride Berg, to
make the birthday speech at the bust in Hamsund.
After the ceremony we walked to Knut Hamsun's childhood home, where an exhibition in the stable displayed photos from the disclosure of the bust in 1961. For many of the local people it was exiting to see, if friends or family could be recognized on the old photos. A visit inside the childhood home was off-course mandatory.
In the meantime in the Hamsun-centre a birthday-cake-buffet was prepared. You don't want to know, how delicious all the cakes tasted :-)
As it happened to be exactly 50 years since the unveiling of the bust in Hamsund, it was a scoop, that it was possible to unveil a new bust, a present to the Hamsun-centre from Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen and the artist, Nico Widerberg. And whom could we wish for to do the unveiling other than Hamarøy's popular mayor, Rolf Steffensen. Few people have the gift like Rolf to say just the right thing, in few words he is able to explain why we are here right now and how to comprehend Knut Hamsun as a whole human being, a genius of a poet but also a human being capable of erring, like we all may err and why we must continue to follow Lars Berg's example and dare more democracy, more openness, more love.
Both Rolf Steffensen and Bodil Børset thanked not only the donors but also the owners of Hamarøy Gallery, Siv Reidun Sandnes and Brit Brattbakk, because they succeeded in getting Nico Widerberg to Hamarøy in the first place and because they selfless let Nico Widerberg's bust left out of their gallery, so that it could be given to the Hamsun-centre.
Hereafter a talk took place in the concert hall of the Hamsun-centre between Einride Berg and newly employed literary intermediary at the Hamsun-centre, Andreas Lødemel about Lars Berg's works and the relation between Berg and Knut Hamsun. Einride told lively and humoristic not only about his fathers works but also about his dedication to art and society. Lars Berg has not "only" written a series of novels on a.o. suppression, sexuality and tyranny and about the liberation of mankind from superstition and exploitation. Berg also fought explicitly for other people's right to expression. He is remembered as one of the initiators of the theatre in Tromsø. It was important for him "to build the nation". Even after having been in the claws of the Rinnan gang and after several years of imprisonment at Grini, always expecting to be transferred to a German concentration camp, even then Lars Berg kept his faith in civilization and therefore it should be a must also in our times to fight for Lars Berg's most important ideals: Democracy, the constitutional state and freedom of speech.
And for those, who needed exercise after all the cakes and for those who still were eager for cultural impulses, an "even-tour" was organized, Hamarøy's well-known and loved combination of hiking, art and literature. This time with theme around the tidal stream Glimma and Hamsun's sources of inspiration here. Andreas Lødemel and the actress Eirin Edvardsen led the tour. Here I had to give up though and just stay and enjoy the Hamsun-centre.
As you may have understood, it really was a warm, solemn and exiting birthday celebration, though everybody were chocked by the assaults shortly before at Utøya and in Oslo, which brought sorrow and grief to many friends.
|© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen||www.hamsun.at|