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 a site-specific monument for each location, Norton replaced the base of the partial globe of Et Purus No.1 in Monaco with a frustum, a truncated cone, for Et Purus No. 2., in Sweden.
The upper base of the three-foot tall frustum starts with a ten-foot diameter base at the top, sloping out to a fourteen-foot diameter base at the bottom. Norton envisioned the four inscriptions of the monument story circling the entire top of the upper base. In their golden patina, the one-line raised inscriptions would stand out against the darker patina of the frustum, connecting the story to the gold ring on the face of the index finger. The four separate text segments will hopefully motivate the viewers to circle the entire monument and reflect on the larger message that calls for transparency in all walks of life.
H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf, a supporter of Clean Sports, has honored the monument and its message by having Et Purus No. 2 installed on Djurgården, the King's Island in the center of Stockholm. The unveiling is scheduled for Spring 2024.