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Global Architecture Platform

American Fence

This short 35mm film by Norwegian filmmakers Bår Tyrmi and Pål Ulvik Rolseth documents the work of Jorge Otero-Pailos, preservation architect and artist, and the process he undertook to preserve the remains of the perimeter security fence of the ex U.S. Embassy in Oslo. The U.S. Embassy in Norway was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1959. In 2002, the United States raised a fence to protect the Embassy during the War on Terror. In 2017 the Embassy was decommissioned and sold. Norway declared the building a National Monument, calling for the demolition of the fence. The listing carefully excluded the 9/11 fence as unsightly, preserving only the mid-century building and creating an idealized image of the U.S. presence in Oslo. The fence, however, in Otero-Pailos’ views, represents an important recent chapter in the history of U.S. foreign policy. He turned the fence into artworks in order to preserve it, adding a new layer of meaning to it. He organized a public performance where demolition machines crushed the fence in situ turning them into 51 sculptures. He named these sculptures using extracts from official treaties signed between Norway and the U.S. between 2001 and 2019.


American Fence
Norway, 2020
Jorge Otero-Pailos
Filmmakers: Bår Tyrmi and Pål Ulvik Rolseth

31.Oct.2021 386 views
Jorge Otero-Pailos Jorge Otero-Pailos

Jorge Otero-Pailos is a New York-based artist and preservationist best known for making monumental casts of historically charged buildings. Otero-Pailos draws from his formal training in architecture and preservation to create artworks that address themes of memory, history and transition, inviting the viewer to consider monuments as powerful agents for cultural connection, questioning and understanding. He is the recipient of the 2021-22 American Academy in Rome Residency in the visual arts. He is Director and Professor of Historic Preservation at the Columbia University GSAPP. His site-specific series, The Ethics of Dust, is an ongoing, decade-long investigation resulting from cleaning dust and the residue of pollution from monuments such as the Doge’s Palace in Venice. One of his latest projects include saving the perimeter security fence of the ex U.S. Embassy in Oslo by turning it into sculptures (American Fence).

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