Wave Pillar

The free-standing steel sculpture Wave Pillar rises 8 meters above the ground at Kajpromenaden in central Helsingborg. Like a water mirror, the polished plate of Wave Pillar reflects the surroundings, creating a dialogue with the spatial site. The rippled surface depicts a wind chart of the changed movement of waves from 2-10 m/s. From calm to strong breeze, ripples to waves.

Until the mid-19th century, marine art was a prevalent genre for artists to explore. Often in dramatic romanticised fashion, artists depicted storms and sea wrecks as allegories of the battle between nature and humans. In Wave Pillar, Bigert & Bergström have, in monumental form, rejoined maritime art but in a different fashion. 

The pillar shape with a granite base calls to mind the classical form of triumphal columns commemorating military victories. Especially the Trajan column located in Forum Romanum, famous for its spiral relief, resonates with the Wave Pillar’s rippled surface that reveals the water and wind’s temperament.

Film by Lars Siltberg

Like the top of triumphal columns were impossible for beholders to read, the Wave Pillar ends with a vagueness: does it bring together the sky and sea – a vertical figure that constitutes a horizontal line? Or does the Wave pillar end like the historical symbol of a colonne brisée – a broken column that reminds us of human perishability and the end of time? Maybe the capital blew off because of increased winds? A new reality that’s been recorded (Copernicus) in northern Europe due to the unpredictable weather caused by the climate crisis.

At Helsingborg kajpromenad, The Wave Pillar also creates a dialogue with Carl Milles’ landmark statue sjöfartsgudinnan. While the symbol of the coastal city Helsingborg emphasises its history of navigation, trade, and need for luck at sea, the Wave Pillar thus commemorates the forces of sea and wind. Beyond the dramatised fashion of maritime 19th-century art, Bigert & Bergström’s sculpture invites the beholder to reflect upon the movement of water, wind, and climate in monumental form.

Text by Otto Ruin

Wave Pillar, 2022
hammered stainless steel
800 x 140 cm x 87 cm

Photo: Gerry Johansson
Detail. Photo: Gerry Johansson

Drawings, Sketches and Installation