In July 1980, the artist Lars Vilks went to the Håle stones in northwest Skåne for the first time.
Lars Vilks has been building Nimis with his own hands for 40 years. A total of 150,000 nails were used and all of the wood was carried up and down the abyss by Vilks himself. He himself reckoned with around 7,000 journeys.
The work of art is now 100 meters wide and in some places up to 25 meters high. Over the years, the work of art has become a debate at local, state and federal levels. The county council fought for the artwork to be removed while art historians shouted no.
Lars Vilks always stopped and watched the spectacle with a crooked smile, says his friend Bengt Tornvall.
“It is a work of art that is connected to his life. Everything about the work was charged with meaning. Art won, it was very interesting for him. It’s completely unique when compared to a painting that is painted for a month or two,” he says.
“40,000 visitors annually”
Bengt Tornvall runs the “Gallery Agardh and Tornvall” in Stockholm and has been close friends with Lars Vilks for many years. He thus has full insight into the tours that took place between all the authorities and Lars Vilks.
– The conflicts between Vilks and the authorities have different legal bases. The district board of directors was mainly looking for Nimis. It has been said that it is not known if it is a building or a work of art and that it is a black building that was not legally built. At the same time, the municipality of Höganäs claims that between 6,000 and 40,000 visitors come and visit Nimis every year.
Lars Vilks fight against the authorities
- In 1982, for the first time ever, anyone noticed that Nimis existed.
- Lars Vilks was then asked what he was doing, to which he replied with a poetic poem.
- Lars Vilks was fined SEK 10,000 (approx. $1,142 USD), paid and then continued building.
- All the orders that Lars Vilks received from the authorities, he made works of art, sold and then paid the bill with the money.
- In 1984, Lars Vilks was commissioned to demolish the now considerable Nimis. The bailiff was involved and would inspect the artwork.
- To avoid demolition, Vilks sold Nimis instead to the German artist Joseph Beuys. This in turn meant that the Swedish authorities could no longer tear down the artwork as it was in the possession of a foreigner.
- When Joseph Beuys died, Nimis was sold on to the artist couple Jeanne-Claude and Christo in 1986. They have owned Nimis since then until their death in 2020. Today the property is in their estate.
Source: Bengt Tornvall
Lars Vilks and two of his bodyguards were killed in a traffic accident on Sunday, October 3rd – something that changed many people’s attitudes towards Nimis, the friend says.
The municipality of Höganäs has now made an appeal to the government to allow Nimis to remain with the Ministry of Culture through an application. This despite decades of efforts to tear it down.– That you have now realized that you have a great, powerful work of art of international standing that you would like to receive. That you have this turnaround is fantastic. The question is very topical now, because what will happen in the future? This question may never have actually been asked, says Bengt Tornvall.
“What is gone”
Peter Schölander (M) is chairman of the Höganäs municipality council. He says the matter has always been with the county council because it has oversight responsibilities in the Kullaberg nature reserve.
– There were also people in the church who thought it was a black building and it was bad. But mostly the church had to stand in the middle and be neutral. It wasn’t our country, our work, or our duty of supervision. It is just like the rest of our church, where Lars Vilks and his work were a turning point, he says.
Why didn’t you push this against the government when Vilks was still alive?
– The reason why the roll call is coming now is that Vilks is gone and that he came quickly. He kept this up and now someone else has to wait and keep the job safe. Then the question becomes relevant to us. We couldn’t imagine that Lars would disappear so quickly, we have to work quickly to save this. We have to make the work legal.
Daniel Åberg is construction manager at the nature conservation administration at the county council in Höganäs. For many years he has been trying to find a solution to the Nimis problem. A problem that is still unsolved.
“He’s sitting up there and smiling”
– For our part, we will remain as before. We have to pay attention to the safety of our visitors and the existing wear and tear. We are still looking for who is responsible for Nimis. That hasn’t been clear for the past ten to 15 years. We are really there, says Daniel Åberg.
He is of the opinion that the district board of directors is positive about the initiative by the municipality of Höganäs to find someone who will look after the work of art in the future.
– We want some players to be ready to step forward and make sure this is done. Someone to talk to. I understood that it was almost part of the art, but the bureaucratic process around it, says Daniel Åberg.
Peter Schölander believes that Lars Vilks is probably satisfied that his work – even after his death – is causing a stir.
– Part of the work was everything that happened in the area. It is part of my work that I am interviewed about it. Presumably he is sitting up there on his cloud and smiling that his work is actually further upset.