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Indian haldi on Norwegian soil

This week, a unique piece of art arrived at the Ambassador’s office. It consists of a photograph of a cliff rock at the west coast of Norway covered in turmeric (haldi) powder. The print has been cut along the contour of the rock, so that the work takes on a double role as both sculpture and photo.

The work is titled 60.220966°N, 4.994361°E, and was first exhibited at the exhibition Dwelling Pluralities at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Spice trade has been, and still is, important to the commercial life of Kochi. The spice trade routes have formed connections between countries and continents, and thus facilitated the movement of culture.

According to various Indian traditions, the yellow powder from ground turmeric root is used as a spiritual symbol of purification and auspicious beginning, in addition to the strong beliefs of its medicinal qualities. In Norway, spiritual practice may not be as prevalent, but many Norwegians regard nature itself as having a certain spiritual potential and meaning, resembling also the beliefs of indigenous peoples.

On this background, Norwegian artist Erik Friis Reitan imported 20 kilos of turmeric powder from Kochi to Bergen, Norway, and spread it over the cliff rock, rendering it bright orange. Much like trade routes, photographs creates connections between places, and by making a photograph of the rock, the artist has created a vehicle for the spice to return to its homeland in a new context. By now, the spice will have been washed away by the wind and the sea, but the rock is still there, and can be found by following the GPS coordinates in the title. And perhaps one day the currents of the oceans might also return some of the spice grains to the shores of India, along with a multitude of other destinations.

When we saw the exhibit at the Biennale, we thought that placing a replica of this work will aptly represent Norway-India fusion in the new Embassy building that itself is Norwegian architecture created with the help of Indian partners. The piece is now proudly placed in the Ambassador’s office.

Erik Friis Reitan website: 
and Facebook page:

The title of the art work will lead you to the rock's location just outside of Bergen.