Several years ago, the Swedish Ljungqvist Foundation selected Sassona Norton, out of eight internationally renowned sculptors, to create a monument for Clean Sports. Professor Arne Ljungqvist, an Olympic high jumper and a physician, has dedicated his life to the fight for anti-doping, and the monument was designed to honor his legacy and spread the cause.
Norton was grateful for the opportunity to create a visual icon for the message. First, the assignment fit her body of work, which has focused on large and expressive hands. Secondly, since Norton installed the 9/11 Memorial outside Philadelphia a few years earlier, she became convinced that monuments should carry a message for the future, and thirdly, she was a proponent of the Foundation’s mission for change. “Although breaking records is in our DNA”, said Norton in an interview, “we must resist any temptation for unfair advantages that involve dishonesty and unhealthy methods. Taking a false path endangers our climb to the top, and without a moral compass we cannot survive”.
Concept and Description:
The universal gesture of Number One, known across continents and time, inspired Norton to envision a seven-foot bronze hand thrusting dynamically into the sky. To signify the winner’s purity, she inserted a polished gold circle at the end of the raised index finger, where blood is drawn. The gold circle signified that the winner’s blood was pure, and that he or she passed the “gold standard”. Bjorn Bertoft, the communications director of the foundation, named the monument “Et Purus” (Latin for and Clean) to state that any “Number One” is also “pure”.
The foundation plans Et Purus as an edition of twenty for different sites around the world. The same sculpture of hand will rise on top of different bases throughout. The sameness of the hand will create a wave of strength from place to place, while different artistic bases, each especially designed for its unique location, will make every monument “site-specific”.
Et Purus No. 1: Jetée Lucciana, Monaco:
Norton felt that the monument in Monaco should respond to the unique international prominence of the site, as well as express the supreme standing of HSH Prince Albert II, as Monaco’s leader, a patron of the arts and a global advocate for clean sports.
For a worldly magnitude, Norton placed the seven-foot hand on a globe. She limited the monument height to ten feet in order to preserve the contact between the viewer and the hand. To add grandeur to the three-feet tall base, Norton exposed the globe only from the North Pole to the Mediterranean, creating the impression as if it rose from underneath, and having the viewer’s mind’s eye complete it to a much larger shape. The gold circle at the index finger was echoed at the bottom with a dark ring that circled the globe and carried three inscriptions in gold letters. In telling the story of the monument and its meaning, the gold letters echoed the ring on top and motivated the viewer to circle the entire monument and contemplate its mission and its power to bring on societal change.
Et Purus No.1 was unveiled in December 2021 under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II and in the presence of international sports dignitaries and the media.
Et Purus No. 2: Stockholm, Sweden:
Keeping the contemporary concept of site-specific monument for each location, Norton replaced the image of the globe of Et Purus No.1 in Monaco with a sculpted frustum for a base for Et Purus No. 2.
The upper base of the frustum truncated cone would begin with a top circle of ten feet diameter, and develop into a wider circle at the bottom. Norton planned to install the four inscriptions that tell the monument story along the top of the base. In their golden colors, the one-line inscriptions around the circle would stand out against the dark polished patina of the frustum, echoing the gold ring at the top of the index finger of the hand and enforcing its message. In having each of the inscriptions placed at a distance along the full circumference of the top, they would motivate the viewer to complete the circle in order to fully absorb its message about the need to commit to transparency and moral code in all walks of life.
The choice of the final site in Stockholm is still in the works. The top considerations include the Karolinska Institute, which has recently established a chair for anti-doping in sports in honor of Professor Arne Ljungqvist, the spirit behind all that Et Purus stands for.