PROJECT FOR A COPENHAGEN SUBURB

 

Exhibition open daily 10 – 22. Byskovvej 28, DK-2730 Herlev, Denmark.

As an artist living in the suburb and municipality of Herlev I have initiated the exhibition project IHi – PROJECT FOR A COPENHAGEN SURBURB. The art project takes its point of departure in public space and in the various ways in which artists and architects jumpstart dialogues within the boundaries of certain geographical areas. When I originally moved to Herlev, I imagined that the infrastructure, architecture and social functions of the municipality would lend themselves well to an artistic interpretation. In order to put these ideas to the test I invited 3RW architects,

Yvette Brackman, Marianne Bramsen, Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, Jakob Jakobsen, Gitte Juul, Jonas Maria Schul and Åsa Sonjasdotter to collaborate with me on instantHERLEV institute exhibition.

By Danish standards the municipality of Herlev is relatively small, which means that cultural and social differences are more readily visible than elsewhere, i.e., with regard to urban planning and architecture. Because of this heightened visibility I wished to use Herlev as a microcosm of the larger global picture; I have sought to emphasize this angle by inviting collaborators who work internationally. Focusing on Herlev, I sought to question whether it might be possible to impact the reality of i.a. urban planning and the function of existing social and cultural constructions. My intention was to enter into a new type of dialogue with citizens and visitors. Finally, there was the question of whether such a dialogue would influence individual fears and prejudices? Therefore instantHERLEV institute was to provide an artistic reworking of problems and phenomena such as city planning, cultural encounters, sociality and gender in relation to the function and public space of Herlev municipality. The artists and architects themselves selected a place, a narrative or a social activity within the municipal limits that became the specific starting point of their individual projects.The original plan was to install and run art projects at different locations in Herlev, radiating from my home at Byskovvej 28, which would then house references to and documentation of the various projects. In the beginning the local authorities were interested in supporting instantHERLEV institute exhibition and offering to host the exhibition at their cultural centre. But after numerous meetings, the collaboration was called off, and thus it transpired that public space was actually not quite as open and accessible as I had imagined. However, instantHERLEV institute really started to shape up and take off after the municipality backed out; now it had become important to visualize how artists and architects could initiate dialogue in public space from a starting point at a private location.

Already on opening day the local homeowners’ association reacted violently to instantHERLEV institutes exhibition. They demanded the demolition and removal of Jakob Jakobsen’s construction and 3RW architects’ pavilion. A couple of days later I received a registered letter from Herlev’s municipal Technical Department, requesting that the footbridge be closed down immediately, in compliance with current building regulations. Moreover, it was pointed out to me that I needed to apply for

a temporary building permit for the pavilion. I had to accept the demands of the municipality, but I could not accommodate the homeowners’ association!

I kept my mind open to change throughout, articulating instantHERLEV institute as the process took place. At the outset I imagined that my home would be the point of departure, which actually did come about in the end, but my house is changed. It has become a project situated somewhere between private and public space. My private space has been opened up with the help of the invited artists and architects and is now part of the public space of Herlev. No one could originally have imagined how the exhibition would eventually look, but the shape and the content have emerged gradually and are now part of a shared reality. This process has made instantHERLEV institute more polemic; it highlights the paradox of public space and how non-public it can appear in the context of artistic dialogue.