Oslo-based Norwegian artist Fredrik Raddum is known for his imaginative figurative sculptures and installation art, which often explore political themes. His previous work mixes tragedy with humor, depicting surreal, dystopian cartoon figures that encourage the viewer to “think beyond the initial encounter.” Raddum’s most recent collection of bronze sculptures—titled Hacienda Paradise – Utopia Experiment—was exhibited earlier this year at Galleri Brandstrup, and sheds light on a true story of human immigration that’s now referred to as “The Galapagos Affair.”
In search of their new Eden, a group of world-weary Europeans left their homes to live on the Galápagos Islands in the 1930s. The first of the island expats to arrive was Friedrich Ritter, a German physician, and his younger lover, Dore Strauch, who settled on one of the most remote islands, Floreana. Next came the Wittmer family from Germany, and soon after came Baroness Eloise von Wagner, who arrived from Paris with her “two companions.” It wasn’t long after they arrived that the Baroness and one of her lovers disappeared. The case remains a mystery to this day.
Raddum’s sculptures show the pioneers in surreal, mysterious circumstances. In one piece, a bird tries to fly away with the brass body of a man. In another, a female figure stands atop two human heads, and seems to exhale a strange golden liquid. One giant turtle-shaped piece depicts the island legend of a turtle who could read the minds of the visitors. In Raddum’s piece, the shell is used as a place to make a fire. According the the artist, the exhibition reminds us that “we can change our surroundings, but we cannot escape from ourselves.”
Artist Fredrik Raddum’s bronze sculptures tell the story of Europeans who left their homes and fled to the Galápagos Islands in the 1930s.
Their new utopia soon turned sinister when two of the pioneers went missing. The case remains a mystery to this day.