Residency & public art project - Copenhagen, Denmark
August - September 2014
I was invited by the curator, Charlotte Bagger Brandt, to realise a special project for Copenhagen Art Week 2014. The focus/theme for this festival was 'the making', and with this in mind I was offered a six week residency to make new site-specific work. I developed two works over this period.
As an artist I work with language, and systems/structures of expression and control. After being invited to make a work using Copenhagen's Metro, I spent a week riding the train back and forth, exploring the (limited) system and it's possibilities. I began to enjoy the meditative aspect of this repetitive journey, and found a form of agency in commuting with no destination - a dubious pleasure in having decision removed. This is emphasized by the highly automated, driverless trains, a system enabled by tight timing and regulation. The repetition of a regular aesthetic, and regular timings, also serves to control and to further make the system autonomous and anonymous. As a structure, it could perhaps mirror wider systems of control in society. The question is of course how one takes agency within these structures - through finding silence or joyous pleasure within the rigid structure (dance to techno), or to struggle, to attempt to demark the extents of the structure and perhaps even open communication with another system.
From this starting point I developed a pattern, a series of interlocking letter "I"s, to stimulate and confuse the eye. With this pattern I created a series of large billboards within the stations, to create a disruption in the smooth space of the system, a pool to distract, to catch the I/eye, a hook for some kind of agitated/aggressive meditation.
The second work is perhaps more ambitious, in that it attempts to communicate outside the system. This takes place at a site between Femøren & Kastrup metro stations on a field that has been bulldozed and cleared for construction, but is awaiting its fulfilment - a space between purposes. The Metro passes by this exception in an otherwise uniformly determined, utilized space, performing an elegant pan over its barren surface. On this stage, 12 performers enact different systems over two 40-minute performances, forming and reforming in different systems, breaking down and trying again, a fight to maintain and break order, and perhaps indirectly communicate with the system of the Metro.
If you speak Danish, here is an interview between myself, Molly Haslund, Jesper Aabille and Matthias Hvass Borello.
(the images below also document the process, in keeping with the residency topic. Skip to the end for the final works)
Left: the plot at Femøren.
It is a site flattened and prepared for construction, but not yet begun. The Danish have a word for this, Byggemoden.
Primed and waiting, but without direction - a silence before an utterance, dramatically vacant yet charged with possibility and potential.
It is also one of the few places where the Metro runs above ground, and for 25 seconds the train follows an elegant pan along the length of the site.
Right: some early experiments in combining the abstract pattern and the specificities of place.
Below is the final series of four posters
Below: Documentation of the final performance.
My thanks to Charlotte Bagger Brandt, Matthias Borello, Jan Falk Borup & the Kunsten.nu team for their support throughout the residency, and to Mette Juul & Sören Hüttel for their generosity over the six weeks.
I owe a debt of gratitude to those who volunteered their time to help me develop and rehearse the performance, your generosity & support was inspirational: Tim Innes, Anna Walther, Serena Korda, Keith Allan, Abirami Mahendran, Karla Nina Diedrich, Laura Ifverson, Stephen Dunn, Diana Lindbjerg, Jolanta Norbutaite, Sigita Pociute, Sophie Blend, Nargiz Anderson, Randi Svendsen, Hanne Lind, Matthilde Kjer Parlo & Katka Arentson
Thank you for the documentation: Martin Kurt Haglund, Mette Juul, Jen Davis, Rolf Kuchling & Katka Arentson.