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HEAD N.N. (2014)

HEAD N.N is an artwork which appeals to the intellect. The artist behind the work is Marianne Heske.

«Our head is round to allow our thoughts to change direction.»
Francis Picabia

Marianne Heske (b. 1946)

Marianne Heske is one of Norway’s most renowned artists. She uses traditional graphical techniques, photography, collage, and installations in her work. Her video paintings have attracted a great deal of attention, both locally and internationally. Heske has been a pioneer of conceptual art in Norway, art where the idea behind the work constitutes the medium and the realisation. The doll’s head is a recurring theme in her work. Heske has carried out several public art projects and is well- represented in museums and collections. 

The place

Torshovdalen is located in the district of Sagene in the municipality of Oslo. The valley stretches from Trondheimsveien to the east, Sinsenkrysset to the north, and Torshov to the west.

When Sparebankstiftelsen DNB invited Marianne Heske to create a sculpture she chose Torshovdalen in Oslo.  According to Heske, the valley is a marvel, beautiful and anonymous. 

The valley deserves recognition, with a public place where people can gather, similar to the amphitheaters of ancient times. 

The sculpture

From its location in Torshovdalen in Oslo, the HEAD looks out over the city and the fjord. From a distance the artwork arouses curiosity. Closer inspection reveals a large sculpture and an amphitheater.

HEAD N.N is an enlargement of a doll’s head which Marianne Heske bought at a flea market in Paris in 1971. The doll’s head has since become an important metaphor in her artistic development. The HEAD measures 7 meters in height and is cast in bronze.

On the surface of the doll’s head there are red lines and numbers. These are derived from phrenology, an obsolete pseudoscience from the 1800s. According to phrenology our abilities and traits are related to specific areas of the brain´s surface. The lines and figures are inspired by illustrations showing the location of various abilities and senses.

- The head is hollow, so there’s room for big thoughts. Those thoughts come from one’s own head - a “think tank”, says Heske.

Marianne Heske’s intention behind the artwork is to let the public use HEAD N.N. and let their thoughts flow freely.

 The amphitheater in Torshovdalen is intended to be a place where one can sit and have a clear view of both the sculpture and Oslo fjord.  Almost like watching a puppet show.  


These are activities that you can do when you go to see the sculpture. The activities are suitable for people of all ages, but designed especially for children. 

To answer the questions you must explore the sculpture and use your imagination and your senses. There are no right or wrong answers. Discuss with those who are with you, and see if you all agree. 

  1. Study the sculpture closely. 
  2. What do you think it looks like? 
  3. Why do you think the artist wanted to put this sculpture is this particular location? 
  4. What do you think the lines and numbers on the sculpture mean? 
  5. Take a picture of the sculpture. 

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Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Marianne Heske