The Grefsen Address

Paal Bjelke Andersen

Originally published by Ntamo in 2010. As the headnote to Andersen's entry in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing explains:

Paal Bjelke Andersen's text is based on nationally televised speeches by the presidents or prime ministers of Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Finland) between the years 2000 and 2009. From the raw text of those speeches, Andersen retains certain elements: all sentences mentioning the Nordic community, every sentence mentioning the word language (e.g., språk in Norwegian), all the names of places, all sentences with the word border (e.g., grense in Norwegian); all the single groups of people mentioned; all sentences with the word war (e.g., krig in Swedish), and every single person mentioned. He also notates his own geographical itinerary walking from his house, around the Norwegian parliament and back home, including every street crossed and every commercial organization passed. Between location and locution ("address," in both its senses), between the discretely local and the shared assemblage, the word and the action, Andersen traces the terms by which we describe and construct political space.
The speeches from each country are kept in their original language, with the same sequence for every section: Danish, Finnish-Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Finnish. Although the idea of a Nordic community is very strong, only a handful of citizens can understand its varied languages (the Uralic Finnish, for instance, is radically distinct from the North Germanic Icelandic, which is itself more distant from the more similar Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish). Any difficulty for English speakers posed by this untranslated text, then, is all to the point.


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