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Artist demands DKK million repair job

A work of art decorating the square at the Faculty of Science stands in disrepair. Now the artist threatens to sue the University of Copenhagen, which says it can't afford to repair it. Student: A 'skating rink of garbage'

Five years ago, Bjørn Nørgaard, one of Denmark’s most notable artists, made the 10 x 33m granite, copper and steel artwork to decorate the square at the University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) Faculty of Science. It’s called Biologisk mangfoldighed (biological diversity).

Thieves stole the metalwork in it in 2011, and since then the decorative artwork has remained in disrepair. Recently, Nørgaard publically vented his frustration in a featured comment to Danish newspaper Politiken.

Nørgaard says that if UCPH does not repair it, they are in breach of Danish laws concerning intellectual property rights. To our Danish-language section Universitetsavisen, he says he has contacted a lawyer, and that it is probably more expensive to remove the artwork, than to restore it.


“I know that UCPH means well,” he says, but points to management flaws at the Faculty of Science.

Biological Diversity has been criticised for its slippery surface. While placed in an area that is meant for walking, it is surrounded by traffic cones for much of the year for safety reasons.

In the comments section of our Danish-language site, Mathies Andersen, a student at the Faculty of Science, calls it “an ice skating rink of garbage”, and says that Nørgaard ought to be ashamed to suggest that any more money is to be spent on it. Other comments come out in defence of Nørgaard: “UCPH had a profit last year, and knowing what is paid out to consultants and strategy development etc., you would think that the university could easily have afforded it, says Thure Pavlo Hauser, a local resident.

Needs non-metal solution

UCPH is self-insured, so the restoration would set the university back by DKK 1.5-2.5 million. And there’s a risk that the metals would just be stolen again, says Joakim Groth, Head of Communications at Science in an e-mail to Universitetsavisen.

“We have tried to apply for funding from various fonds,” adds Lone Zeeberg, Head of Management of Buildings. “But it’s difficult to raise funds – there’s not much prestige in restoration”.

The Faculty is currently trying to set up a meeting with Nørgaard, says Zeeberg. She says that the artwork was originally intended to be made using metals, so perhaps other solutions are an option.


Until then, status quo: A piece of art in disrepair for the second year running, a frustrated artist, perplexed students, and a university Faculty unable to raise the funds to do anything about it.

As Lone Zeeberg from Head of Management of Buildings puts it:

“Donations are very welcome! Every little helps,” she adds.

Photos below by Maria Constantin and Lizette Kabrè.

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