Hugin and Munin Watch Over Us All from Their Perch in Örnsköldsvik

Hugin and Munin normally perch on Odin’s shoulders where they whisper all the news of Midgård into his ear. And that’s usually how they’re depicted—loitering around his head, whether perched beside it or hovering above it. But Kjell Landfors has given us a different vision of Odin’s ravens: one where they stand stoically in the center of the city of Örnsköldsvik (which literally means “Eagle Shield’s Bay” for those that can’t svenska), frozen in place, judging us all, and reporting our misdeeds back to the Big Guy.

Örnsköldsvik is a small city of about ~30,000 inhabitants, located on the Kingdom of Sweden’s east coast about 2/3 of the way up along the nation’s renowned Höga Kust (High Coast), an area that has experienced a high degree of post-glacial rebound. Höga Kusten also forms the Swedish part of the joint UNESCO World Heritage Site High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago (the other part being Finnish, of course). But perhaps Örnsköldsvik’s greatest claim to international fame is being the home of the former NHL player, Peter “Foppa” Forsberg (and on a less grandiose note, it also forms the setting of a highly dysfunctional dragon-slaying expedition that occurred in the early 2000s that I describe in graphic detail in The Scandinavian Aggressors).

Kjell Landfors’ is a Swedish artist who creates paintings, sculptures, and public art at large. His work tends to be either completely abstract or more about nature and wildlife than Norse mythology, but he branched out into world of the Eddas for this one. His vision of Odin’s ravens are located on Lasarettsgatan (that’s a street) in front of a modernist concrete block of a building that houses run-of-the-mill retail stores (basically Sweden’s version of a Radio Shack and a grocery store, but also an Italian restaurant for good measure). So, while Hugin and Munin occupy some prime Örnsköldsvik real estate, it’s not exactly glamorous real estate in terms of its architectural qualities. But then isn’t that partly the point? They’re helping make a drab urban street better! While spying on us, of course, which is what they do best.