Stolen Child

Fall 2014 Danmarks plass- Bergen

My assistant is a patient at the Kronstad DPS and while attending his weekly group therapy he had been drooling at this beautiful wall right at the Bybanen stop. So when it turned out that this stencil which also happen to be a personal favorite of mine had the perfect size for the wall, there was no dobut, it had to be done..

The wall was a bit of a logistical challenge. Guards sitting inside watching a rotating camera directly over our heads being the most obvious obstacle.
Further more, e needed quite a bit of equipment including a ladder, plus It would take probably 2 hours of work, so “hit & run” was not an option. Neither was asking, I figured there would be too much bureaucracy and a very high chance of a no anyway. So we went with the faking permission strategy. I had someone send a very convincing SMS that basically said “This message is to certify that AFK has received permission to paint this wall…bla,bla,bla… Good luck tonight. Please send pictures of the finished work.”

After 30 minutes the first security guard arrived and asked us what we were doing. I showed him the message, he expressed his delight, and I kept working. Half an hour later a second security guard came and the same procedure was repeated along with a long chat about street art.
About 15 minutes later a police car suddenly came to a screeching stop across the street, one officer jumping out, while another officer came running up the bybane track. he officers ran towards us shouting at me to get down from the ladder and for us to remove our masks. I calmed them by explaining that we had permission and then showed them the text message and an image of how it would look once finished. After this their tone changed and they expressed their appreciation for the unfinished piece so far. We had a chat for a while, before we were told to let them know in advance next time we would be working a night shift on the street, and they took my real name just in case there were any problems…

After they left, I kept working and just as I was finishing up the main piece, the first security guard re-appeared again. He was sorry for disturbing us, but had been instructed by the guard watching from the security camera, to ask us who had given the permission and what our names were. This was a little stressing. We explained that we couldn’t remember the name of our contact, but that they could ask the director of DPS in the morning and get any info they needed. If they wanted our names they would have to contact her or the police. Figuring we would not be so lucky if they bothered to come once more, we quickly packed up and left even though I wasn`t quite finished.

There was a huge risk of some head of someone making a fuss and possibly pressing charges, so we hastily wrote a lovely email addressed to the director, employees and patients of DPS, explaining how I was sorry for vandalizing their wall that night, but it was so beautiful that I just couldn’t resist. I also offered to come back and paint the wall grey if they’d prefer that, or, I could even come back and finish the piece completely with the exert from Yeats’ poem.

I got an answer from the hospital director the same day. Luckily, she informed that both users and employees loved it and that they would be thrilled to have me come back and finish the piece which I did.

 

About 8 months later, I was contacted by someone via Facebook, explaining how I had inspired them to start cutting stencils and he sent me some pictures. He goes by the name A213 and it turns out he was one of the police officers that approached us that night 🙂 We are Facebook friends now and I’m still trying to convince him to do some illegal stuff with me. I think he’s coming around 🙂

The moral of the story is… some laws need to be broken if we want to make the world a better place.