"Cecilie - woman with incurable breast cancer" - The statue is designed to provide attention to, care for, and knowledge of a group often overshadowed by the strong focus on breast cancer survival. The sculpture will be a meeting point and symbol for everyone affected by breast cancer, and simultaneously, it will also portray mother of three, Cecilie, who was diagnosed with metastasis when she was 42 years old.
“Death comes at some point during our lives. That’s just how it is, and I've always thought that death is a natural part of life, and something we should talk about a lot more. To disarm death in a way. But I know that death can be a challenging subject. A part of the reason why I said yes to be portraited, was to disarm death. Make it safe to talk about.
For my loved ones, the statue will mean having a place to go. Like a memorial site. Although I like to focus on living here and now, death will come. The statue will hopefully be able to give value to others. An opportunity to talk about a difficult topic. What are we seeing? Me, partly undressed. Which is not entirely uncommon. But at the same time, we see something else. Behind this statue, which represents metastatic breast cancer, we find women of all ages, in different family situations, ethnicities and social backgrounds. We all show people peices of who we are, but not everything, and with this project I show a piece of who I am and my values. Especially to my kids who live with a mother with cancer. As a mom I want to be there when my children need me. But I am not always going to be able to be here to tell them that everything will work out. Telling them it's going to be fine.
To a large group of patients, mothers, and relatives: We are only here while we are here, and the rest is history. Just like this project. A statue, a memory, an opportunity for reflection. Part of me as a metastatic breast cancer patient. Part of me as an ordinary woman. The project gives me an opportunity to help make the patient group with metastatic breast cancer visible. We are so much more than just a patient group. This is maybe the most important part about the statue.
I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in this project. The opportunity say something to my closest and to the ones I don’t know. The opportunity to help make the patient group with metastatic breast cancer visible. And to all of the nice people that I have met through the process: You have your heart in the right place, as the Norwegian saying goes. I have been treated with care and respect and love all the time.
– Cecilie Flatval
“I do not know how the sculpture would appear otherwise. It was just the way I imagined it could be. Usually, it feels like the options are many in a large project like this, but not this time. The idea was just Cecilie; that the sculpture should be her, as I see her. I could not create a victim or a «Munch-like» sick girl who almost disintegrates and disappears. Instead, I try to show how she deals with it, with willpower, vitality, and calm in the resistance. Not like someone pitiful.
I did not want to develop a metaphor or something clearly symbolic; the missing breast is telling enough in itself. I did not want dramatic, sentimental, or theatrical gestures; I preferred just to show Cecilie's natural body language. In this way, I think the message comes across most strongly.
I wished to invent as little as possible; just to look at her and reproduce what I saw. The movement shows that not only is she comfortable - most of all, I think the pose conveys strength. It defies the uncertainty and shows her enormous courage in coming to terms with the disease to everyone who visit the statue. The task was challenging but meaningful. Cecilie is strong despite the situation and brave in the face of the unknown. In that courage, there is hope.”
– Håkon Anton Fagerås
The statue is located in front of Spikersuppa in Oslo, facing Karl Johans gate, one of Oslo's most central places. In the middle between the castle and the Parliament building, where thousands of people walk every day.
In this way, "Cecilie" becomes part of everyday life and part of all the people who pass by.A centrally located statue will make the theme of illness and death more mundane and perhaps less dangerous. As Cecilie herself puts it: "We will all die one day. Normalize death."
The statue is a gift from Eiendomsspar AS to The Norwegian Breast Cancer Society. Pfizer Norway has contributed with funds to the communication of the statue.
The Norwegian Sculptors Society announced the assignment to create the statue, inviting to a two-phase process.
First, an open call where all artists could register an interest in the assignment, and then a closed competition for three artists invited to make a three-dimensional sketch for the monument, based on a meeting with Cecilie. After careful consideration, the project's artistic jury gave the assignment to Håkon Anton Fagerås.
The next step in the process was for the sculptor to getting to know Cecilie, measuring her and develop a half-sized clay figure for approval. The final step was to enlarge the clay figure into full-size in Pietrasanta, Italy. And then, finally casting the sculpture in bronze. After casting, the sculpture was transported to Oslo for mounting on a base.
Erik Steen, CEO, Norwegian Sculptors Society
Ellen Harris Utne, Chair of the Norwegian Breast Cancer Society
Christian Ringnes, CEO, Eiendomsspar
Jarle Strømodden, Museum Director, Vigelandsmuseet
Ebba Moi, Associate Professor, KHIO, and artist
Anneke von der Fehr, Associate Professor, OsloMet, and artist
Thea Bjørndal Iversen, creative, TRY