A few years ago I was in Sweden where I visited a strange land called Ladonia, containing huge 30 meter high labyrinthine wooden sculptures built by artist Lars Vilks. (you can see pictures here)
Vilks is one of the artists that drew the famous bomb-in-the-turban Muhammad cartoons, and between assassination attempts Lars keeps himself busy maintaining his sculptural universe and fighting the Swedish government. In 1980 he began to create some sculptures out of driftwood on the beach near the town of Mölle. Due to their hard to reach location, the sculptures were not discovered for two years, at which point the local council decided that the sculptures were technically buildings, and as they were situated in a national park, had to be demolished. Lars has spent most of the rest of his life battling the Swedish government to stop this from happening, and in doing so decided to declare the area of the sculptures a micronation called “Ladonia”. Ladonia, inaugurated in 1996, currently has a population of around 16,000 from around 50 countries (none of whom actually live in Ladonia).
Which brings me on to the labyrinth of Josep Pujiula. Also in 1980, Josep, a textile worker in Catalonia, had an idea to build some huge 30 meter high labyrinthine wooden sculptures on public land. And guess what? The council didn’t like them. And guess what else? He has spent the rest of his life since rebuilding it and fighting the Spanish government. In 2002 the government actually won, and Josep was forced to dismantle the labyrinth to make way for a new motorway – but you know what he did? He just rebuilt it. Right next to the motorway. And carried on fighting the government.
The similarities between these two places is uncanny – not only visually, but on so many other levels (huh huh!). I have climbed inside both of their sculptures and feared for my life. I have no idea if these two men are aware of each other and their creations, or if in the late 70s they had one of those awkward moments where they were walking towards each other and both try to move out of the way in the same direction, and then again the other way, and then smile embarrassingly and carry on – maybe that was where the magic happened. Or have you noticed that both Spain and Sweden begin with S? Maybe every country that begins with S has a weirdo that builds random terrifying death-trap sculptures out of wood for no apparent reason. I don’t know, but I love them both and I love that there are people in the world that do this kind of weird shit.