Project purpose: The Equator Memorial Project is a group of international artists who are creating art pieces and functional objects by recycling historical materials of ruins from world heritage sites. The mission is to hold a series of exhibitions in galleries or museums worldwide in support of a sustainable environment, justice, freedom and peace. At each exhibition approximately 50 – 60 art pieces will be presented created by selection of international artists. A part of the income for each sold or rented piece will be allocated to a charity fund for humanitarian and community projects.
The idea for The Equator Memorial Project had its genesis in a bed Johann Sigmarsson designed and made in 2011. Friends and acquaintances showed immediate interest and he was soon commissioned to make another one as a wedding anniversary gift. Sigmarsson went on to build shelves, an armchair with leather seats, and a desk with leather trimmings. Word got around about his furniture making and eventually a small group of people began to form around the current project. In May 2012, Sigmarsson was watching a report on the evening news about the Association of Icelandic Ports and its intention to refurbish the Reykjavík Harbour. Apparently, much of the jetty was to be removed and discarded. It occurred to him then that the wood might be recycled and used to make furniture. And this was the beginning of a brand new idea.
In autumn, a group headed by Sigmarsson obtained permission to take the wood being thrown away by the Reykjavík Harbour. He then began to dry and plane it in preparation for the project. He soon discovered that much of the material was perfect for what he had in mind, i.e. stylish handmade furniture. Aside from being environmentally friendly, this recycling was also a kind of resurrection. Way back in 1903, the very same material was used to construct a dock for the herring fleet, which later became a part of the Reykjavik Harbour that was constructed between 1913 and 1917. Closer examination revealed that the some of the wood originally came from a German schooner that sank off the south coast of Iceland in 1890. The vessel was brought to Reykjavik and disassembled for scrap. Fascinatingly, research indicated that that the trees may have been more than 200 years old when they were first used for shipbuilding. The wood is pine, which can live anywhere from 100 to 1000 years. The oldest preserved pinewood dates back nearly five thousand years. The Romans commonly used pine and other conifer wood to build many of their houses. The recycled wood from the harbor gives the furniture a characteristic look and holds part of Reykjavík’s history at the same time. In August 2013, Sigmarsson established a private limited company for designing, building, creating furniture and art works. It was given the name 40.074KM, which is the length of the Equator.
Due to the interest that the furniture from the old Harbour of Reykjavík aroused, Sigmarsson was inspired to develop the project further in the environmental way. Making use of his contacts abroad, especially those in Germany, he acquired some old wood from the Port of Hamburg together with pieces from original L- and T – concrete elements of the Berlin border wall. When Sigmarsson applied for another historical materials from two other countries it was realised that the project had transformed into a new concept which is connecting history, environment, design and art together. He now plans to create art pieces from these materials in cooperation with international artists. The aim is to select a number of historic sites or structures worldwide and then to persuade the relevant authorities to help us create functional objects or art from materials related to the site.
These projects are now collectively known as The Equator Memorial Project.
The Port of Hamburg
On a trip to look at old wood used to construct the port of Hamburg, we obtained permission to use three different types of material used in the harbor. The Hamburg Port’s 825th Anniversary will be held in 2014.
Theatre of the Cold War
The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc and powers in the Eastern Bloc. The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), starting on 13 August 1961, the wall completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in November 1989. The Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were “fascists” by GDR propaganda. The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame”—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
In 2014 was 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This project provides a great story for the former east and west. Now parts of the Wall can be recycled for sculptures and functional objects. We will have several original pieces
of L- and T – concrete elements of the Berlin border wall for the operation.
The Equator Memorial Project in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture in Norway and Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property received permission to utilize two broken windows from office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in the Norwegian government’s headquarters in Central Oslo after it was damaged from terrorist attack by Anders Behring Breivik.
The 2011 Norway attacks were two sequential Lone Wolf terrorist attacks against the Norwegian government, the civilian population, and a Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp in the Oslo region on 22 July 2011, claiming a total of 77 lives.The first was a car bomb explosion in Oslo within Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Norway. The bomb was made from a mixture of fertiliser and fuel oil and placed in the back of a car. The car was placed in front of the office block housing the office of Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings. The explosion killed eight people and injured at least 209 people, twelve of them seriously. It was decided to donate the project material for recycling it to art pieces and functional objects to indicate the uselessness and cruelty of terrorism. The group will create series of artworks with Norwegian artists by recycling the ruins.
That autumn in Hiroshima where it was said “For Seventy-five years nothing will grow”
New buds sprouted. In the green that came back to life. Among the charred ruins. People recovered.
Their living hopes and courage.
The Equator Memorial Project in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Iceland and Mr. Tatsukuni UCHIDA Counsellor received permission to use mementos from Hiroshima, the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon on August 6, 1945. The group will create series of artworks with Japanese artists by recycling the historical ruins. The donation are stones from the roof of the Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima. The atom bomb exploded in the front of the dome above the ground and the stones were found over 30 years later in the river Motoyasu. Oleander flower is now a symbol for the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to blossom after the explosion in 1945. The group will as well create the flower and present a new sign of peace for the world.
HIROSHIMA EXPLOSION, RECORDED AT 8-15AM, AUGUST 6, 1945, IS
SEEN ON THE REMAINS OF A WRISTWATCH FOUND IN THE RUINS IN
THIS 1945 UNITED NATIONS / PHOTO.
We wish to obtain permission to use materials from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We have come with request in cooperation with Mr. Hlynur Gudjonsson consul General and Consulate General of Iceland to the port authority and Mr. John Ma, Chief of Staff to the Executive Director for donating material /ruins from 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre (Twin Towers) which can be recycled into art pieces. The art pieces we wish to create will both symbolise the story of the events and educate people what happened on that day, dedicated with respect in memory of the victims.
As well we wish to obtain permission to use materials from the Czech village of Lidice, Liverpool and the Slave Trade, Bombing of Guernica, former Soviet Union – Gulag. The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems during the Stalin era, from the 1930s until the 1950s, Colosseum and ruins of the Buddhas of Bamiyan which was destroyed in Afghanistan by Taliban in 2001 to demolish holy icons and disrespect ideologic of the religion. GRAVEYARD OF LENIN MONUMENTS AND STALIN STATUES / The project team is now preparing to collect Lenin and Stalin Statues from the Baltic countries for the artists to create art pieces and functional objects. It will be auctioned for the good purpose of humanitarian. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian lawyer, revolutionary, and the leader of the Bolshevik party and of the October Revolution. He was the first leader of the USSR and the government that took over Russia in 1917. Lenin’s ideas became known as Leninism. Lenin grew critical of Stalin, and many other Bolsheviks at this time, but in 1922 a stroke forced Lenin into semi-retirement. Lenin recommended Stalin’s dismissal. However, after Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin suppressed documentation of Lenin’s recommendation. Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1923 until his death in 1953. In the years following Lenin’s death in 1924, he rose to become the leader of the Soviet Union. The exact number of deaths caused by Stalin’s regime is still a subject of debate, but it is widely agreed to be in the order of millions.
After we have collect all the material together we will start to plan the operation of the exhibitions. The intention is to expand the international group of artists & team that are now available who travel between countries, building functional objects, creating art works and sculptures from the historical ruins. In the regions where permission is granted, we plan to build a relationship with local artists and businesses. When each phase of the project is completed it will be exhibited on the heritage site locally, in galleries or museums. Our schedule is to hold 10 exhibitions worldwide until the end of 2019.
The exhibitions will comprise a few, numbered items of functional objects and art works related to the heritage sites. On every exhibition will be approximately 80-100 art pieces created by 20 international artists. Accompanying every item will be a short informational text on the history of the material. The intention is that the pieces will be signed by the artists and sold online as well at live auction in the end of selected exhibitions. A part of the income for each sold piece will be allocated to a charity fund for humanitarian and community projects. We will also offer numbered prints of the art pieces and publish a book of photographs of the collection with written preface in the end of the project for the same purpose. Poems will be written about the concept and documentary film made on the process.
The whole project is considered very special and new ideas are created relating the environment, such as recycling ruins from historical sites which are regained as a new story in the form of design and arts. Here is a project that connects four continents together with a historical and cultural value. The Equator Memorial Project is supported internationally by UNESCO which hold the list and monitor World Heritage sites for preservation.
Above left photo / Ksenija Zapadenceva sawing wood from Reykjavik Harbour for sculpture. Above right photo / Ksenija Zapadenceva taping photos of Mr. Aron Einar Gunnarsson Icelandic football team member to a board for preperation of sculpture. Down below photo / Sculpture in working process of Mr. Ari Skúlason, Icelandic football team member. Down below photos / Sculpture in working process. Worked in UAB / Studija Vilnius.
The first Art- History- and Art exhibition
The first Art- History- and Art exhibition “When The Atomic Bomb Exploded” Harpa, Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík exhibited a collection of art pieces from The Equator Memorial Project / International itinerant artists project. The exhibition opened 15th of December 2016, when it was formally 60 years from the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Iceland and Japan. The first exhibition is achieved partly in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and was opened by President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Yasuhiko Kitagawa. The theme of the exhibition is material from Hiroshima and Reykjavík Harbour with historical informations on the pieces.
The Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris is collaborating with The Equator Memorial Project and envisages favourably to exhibit a collection of the art pieces at their headquarters. H. E. Mr. Kristjan Andri Stefánsson, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iceland to France, Permanent Delegate has now sent a formal proposal to the Headquarters of UNESCO of our request for the exhibition. The idea is to have the exhibition for support of sustainable environment, justice, freedom and peace, opening at 5th of June 2019 in the honour of the 45th Anniversary of World Environment Day. The theme of the exhibition will be material from all the historical materials / ruins which has been donated to the project and the historical informations on the pieces. The Exhibition will end with an charity event at 28th of June in honour of 100 years anniversary of Treaty of Versailles with auction and Peace memorial dinner “Make a Peace Worldwide” at the headquarters. 17th of November 2019 in the honour of the 22nd Anniversary of The International Day of Peace is announcement of gifts to humanitarian and community projects worldwide which has been accumulated through the sale of the artworks of The Equator Memorial Project and its artists charity fund.
The President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson sent Official Letter of Recommendation to support the exhibition to the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs Audrey Azoulay.
Universal – Respect for Justice.
PARTNERS & PEOPLE INVOLVED
40,074KM EHF / partner leader / Iceland is a private limited company founded by Jóhann Sigmarsson in August 2013 for designing, building furniture & creating art works, producing concerts, exhibitions & all kinds of events in art section and in filmmaking. It was given the name 40,074KM, which is the length of the Equator. The company is responsible for The Equator Memorial Project, International, itinerant Artists project. It has been developing the art project and preparing its platform. It is responsible for collecting the historical material / ruins together in cooperation with its governments and institutions, furthermore the company is finding the international companies, co-partners to participate in the art project. The intention is to expand the international group of the artists and the team that are now available who travel between countries, building functional objects, creating artworks and sculptures from historical monuments. It will be established in cooperation with other artists and businesses, in the countries were the materials derive. When the project is completed it will be exhibited on a specific heritage site or at galleries or museums suitable for the project. 40,074KM EHF will design and organise the set up all of the exhibitions and is directory of curatorial and will be authoritative for work with the international artists on the creation of the art pieces and directors and curators from the museums / galleries which are cooperating with the art project. They will interpret the artworks, select them and be responsible for writing labels, catalog essays and other supporting content for the exhibitions in cooperation with the curatorial team, provide art historians, historians, writers, translators and create professional publication / communication to the public and media such as various of articles, interviews, preface of the book of collection, for seminar and opening speeches, academic, journalistic writing which can be distributed in newspapers, magazines, TV, official site and all kinds of web media.
Art House SomoS./ German co-partner will organise and provide historical material, material for art pieces, crew and schedule the work of the international artists in cooperation with the team of 40,074KM EHF at Studio FLUTGRABEN e.v.
UAB / STUDIJA VILNIUS / co-partner is in charge for the Lithuanian in collaboration with the team of The Equator Memorial Project. The company will be in control of the art studio in Vilnius as well as being responsible for deliver assistance and services to the artists, art pieces and its exhibitions. The company will as well provide and organise companies, art framers and professionals to work all glass material and design, create and build all the art frames of the functional objects and the installations which the artists create for the exhibitions. The frames will partly be worked from the material of the historical ruins in collaboration with the artists. The company will as well be in charge of printing all the material, such as; brochures, flyers, postcards, posters, art prints & book of collection as well as create the design for all material, such as brochures, flyers, posters, art prints & book of collection.
The permanent artist for The Equator Memorial Project is Johann Sigmarsson and he will be on every exhibition. The project already includes partners and participants from all over the world. Each co-partner in cooperation with the museum will have the option to provide guest artists and professionals from their country creating with the international team. The curatorial team will as well make selection of international guest artists to create art pieces on each exhibition according to its theme. It is scheduled to have both selection of young talented artists working with the older and more established on the creation of all the historical materials which are provided to the project. In fact the part of the international artists and professional team now available are very experienced in the cultural sector and in management. Many of them has achieve numerous approvals and awards for their expertise. The various partners working on this project and the institutions will as well collaborate in a continuous assessment to improve and expand the project as it moves from country to country. In the long term it is our faith that the project will grow and involve new historical materials / ruins, as well as artists and team from all continents of the world. It is scheduled to start creating the art pieces in the beginning of July 2016.
INTERNATIONAL GUEST ARTISTS WORKING ON SELECTED EXHIBITIONS; CONFIRMED ARTISTS: Steingrímur Eyfjörð (IS), Jón Adólf Steinólfsson (IS), Halldór Ásgeirsson (IS), David Walker (UK), Charles Chambata (ZM), Josemaría De Churtchaga (ES), Daniel de Isabel (ES), Kjell Erik Killi Olsen (NO), Gabriel Sobin (FR), Vytautas Narbutas (LT), Jean-Ulrick Désert (HT), Bruno Walpoth (IT), Antonia Puscas (DE) and Ksenija Zapadenceva (LT).
CONFIRMED INTERNATIONAL ART PROJECT TEAM / CO-WORKERS ON SELECTED EXHIBITIONS; Johann Sigmarsson (IS) artist, filmmaker, CEO is the founder of 40,074KM and entrepreneur of the Equator Memorial Project. Tómas Þorvaldsson, (IS) attorney at law, provides legal advice and negotiation of contracts for the Equator Memorial Project. Aasa Charlotta Ingerardóttir (SE) photographer, Gunnar Gunnarsson, (IS) economist is project manager, Björn Bjarnason, (IS) former minister of Culture and Science in Iceland, is advisor on the project for Mr. Sigmarsson, Jón Proppé (IS) curator, Pierre Provoyeur (FR) curator, Robert Carrithers (US) is exhibitions coordinator, Pascal Lainé (FR) is director of curatorial, Thomas Martin Hansen (DK) is service director for the design, Ole Rydal (DK) is creative director for the design, Loren Sopčákova (CZ), photographer, Már Jóhannsson (IS) and VIÐVIK EHF (IS) Accountant, Bookkeeping & Accounting Services, Josemaría De Churtchaga (ES) is architect for the exhibitions, Kristina Mickevičiūtė (LT) service director for art frames, Volker Otte, (DE) culture funding specialist, Matthias Kruse (DE) is project representative in Germany, Paulus Fugers (NL) is in curatorial team and art studio manager, Nicole Kluk (UK) Exhibition Producer for SAATCHI GALLERY, Henrik Hartberg (NO) is service director for printing material, Ksenija Zapadenceva (LT) is, Artist, Art Studio Manager and Co-producer, UAB / STUDIJA VILNIUS.
CONFIRMED DOCUMENTARY FILM CREW; Marteinn Thorsson (IS) filmmaker, aims to direct a full-length documentary “Story behind the History”about the Equator Memorial Project. Fahad Falur Jabali, OCTOBER PRODUCTIONS and FORTY THOUSAND SEVENTY FOUR KILOMETRES (IS) will be the producers of the documentary film will cover sales and distribution of the film, co-producers are Egil Ødegård & FILMHUSET STUDIOS AS (NO), Christian Riffard, FROZEN FROGS (FR) and Ksenija Zapadenceva, UAB / STUDIJA VILNIUS (LT).
LETTERS PROVIDED TO THE PROJECT; Letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture; letter of recommendation from a member of the parliament of Iceland; letter of intent from Promote Iceland / Inspired by Iceland; letter of recommendation from the Icelandic National Commission for UNESCO; International letter of support from UNESCO and letter of intent for exhibition in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris; contract from Hamburg Port Authority about the donation of the wood from the Port of Hamburg; Donation Letter / Associated Icelandic Ports, over 100 years old wood from Reykjavik Harbor; letter of Confirmation / VOLKER PAWLOWSKI for providing the Berlin Wall to the project; letter of recommendation from the French Embassy in Reykjavík; letter of intent from Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík in Reykjavík; declaration from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; letter of intent from the Embassy of Japan Reykjavík Iceland; letter of confirmation / FORTY THOUSAND SEVENTY FOUR KILOMETRES / a full length documentary film, THE STORY BEHIND HISTORY, letter of intent from RUV – The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service TV and donation letter / material from the Norwegian Government buildings / Statsbygg, Letter of Recommendation from Hon. Citizen of Vilnius and former Minister of Foreign Affairs (when Iceland was the first state to take a conflict with the Soviet Union to support Baltic freedom in 1991), Mr. Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson to the Mayor of Vilnius, Mr. Remigijus Šimašius for the possibility to provide 2.500 -3.000 square-metres working area, house or abandoned building that can be renovated for the main operation of the art project, Letter of Intent / SAATCHI GALLERY London and Confirmation from GRŪTO PARKAS / Mr. Viliumas Malinauskas.
- Photographs: Aasa Charlotta Ingerardóttir & Jóhann Sigmarsson for The Equator Memorial Project, Halldór Ásgeirsson, Wilkipedia, Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur, Christie’s, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
- Writing materials; Jóhann Sigmarsson & Björn Bjarnason for The Equator Memorial Project, Wilkipedia, Faxaflóahafnir sf, Christie’s, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
- Translated by: Jóhann Sigmarsson, Björn Bjarnason, Martin Regal, Mattias Kogh, Jón Proppé & Tómas Þorvaldsson.
- Web design & installation: Jóhann Sigmarsson