An illegally constructed work of art has become a tourist attraction in Kullabygden in Sweden and the Artist Lars Vilks is challenging the Swedish authorities.
“This is just insane,” exclaims Per as we climb down the last stretch and Nimis lies ahead. I choose to enter straight into the structure of the artwork and experience it from within. Per continues to climb down on the outside of the construction. A family with children is climbing up the narrow tunnel and we just manage to pass each other. The kids are laughing gleefully after climbing in what I believe is the world`s biggest climbing frame. Inside the crippled body of Nimis I am surprised to feel the smoothness of the wood and how nice it is to wipe the boards with my hands. The ground I walk on inside Nimis is uneven and I have to find support for each step. Nimis is built of driftwood which is further worn down and smoothed by thousand of people which over many years has climb up and down and gripped after a piece of wood to support them. Inside the labyrinth of Nimis I feel safe. The structure is solid and I feel no movement in the construction even when we are several people inside at the same time.
Lars Vilks have been building Nimis since 1980 and he is still building. We had for a long time wanted to see these 2 pieces of art and to visit the micro country of Ladonia. Now we are finally here. We have asked around for directions. Naturally enough, it is not signposted to an illegal constructed art installation despite that this is one of the main attractions in Kullabygden. Our hotel host told us where to drive and which parking place to stop at. “Don’t park on the first one. Take the small road left opposite the first parking place you find and drive to the end of the road” he told us and continued. “Then walk the forest trail and look for trees marked with a “N”. It takes about half an hour to walk from the parking place and the last part is steep. In rainy weather I am sure it is nearly impossible to get there and even on a sunny day you should wear sensible shoes. On a calm day it is possible to get to Nimis and Ladonia with a boat from the village Arild. But it is hard to anchor up at the stony beach. Nimis is built of driftwood and Arx is built of stone. Together they form the micro country of Ladonia. Lars Vilks proclaimed Ladonia as an independent state in 1996. Ladonia has its own website in English and you can apply for a citizenship as well. . http://www.ladonia.org
Lars Vilks is born in Helsingborg, not far from Kullaberg and I suppose he is back in his childhood forest when he continues to build on his life`s work Nimis. Lars Vilks is an artist and an art critic. He has also been a professor at the Art Academy in Bergen, Norway. Among most people he is best known as the artist who draw a caricature of the prophet Mohammed as a dog in a roundabout. Since then he has lived with death threats and bodyguards from the Swedish police. When Lars Vilks visited Fredrikstad some years ago, we were present at a speech he held and the presence of security agents and police was very evident. In this speech he also told about the paradox in that he has company by Swedish police when he builds illegal in Ladonia. Some times they may also offer a helping hand. Lars Vilks has his own blog, in Swedish only: http://www.vilks.net Nimis and Arx are illegal built in the Nature Reserve of Kullaberg just north of Helsingborg in the south of Sweden. The place is hard to access and it took 2 years before the authorities found out that he was building on the steep slope down to the stony beach. But when they found out, the legal Circus started. Lars Vilks has been in court several times and has been convicted many times as well. Then Nimis was sold to Joseph Beuys in 1984 and later to the artist Christo. You know; this man that covers and wrap up every thing from big official buildings to whole islands. These changes in ownership made legal complications for the Swedish authorities, who should they bring to justice now? This was a start of a yearlong delaying technique still going on, may not that active any longer. It may look like the local community have given up and left it to the landowner, Gyllenstiernska Krapperup Foundation to fight this struggle. This foundation support art and culture and have probably no interest in ruining its reputation by demanding the artwork to be removed or destroyed.
Kullaberg is an area that is investing heavily in tourism and they do have a lot to offer tourists. Ladonia is an important element in this package and I am sure the tourist office would be delighted if they could use Ladonia more active in promoting the area. At least it is information about Ladonia on their website. It will be interesting to see the development. Will the micro country of Ladonia manage to live in peace with its neighbors? Will the tourist office in Kullaberg be able to exploit the potential that Ladonia actually has? Ladonia is a fairytale micro country more exciting than any artificial landscaped Holliday park. Lars Vilks has taken great liberties but he has also provided the area with an adventure unlike anything else. You cannot just drive to the gate, park, pay the entrance fee and let the kids loose. No, you will have to struggle a bit to get there. The half hour walk is a nature adventure in itself. First you walk in beautiful Swedish cultivated landscape. Then you must enter the woods and start hunting for the signs. Among the big hardwood trees you must find the tree marked with an “N”. N for Nimis and suddenly you are there. Go hunting for Ladonia and contribute to a more playful and creative world.