Musikalsk havnesejlads lægger smukt lydtæppe over byen

“Radio Free Mermaid” er en poetisk lydcollage i Københavns nordlige havnebassiner, hvor naturens lyde kolliderer med de menneskeskabte elektroniske rytmer og lydkonstruktioner skabt af komponistsammenslutningen Skræp. 

Her sidder jeg i havnerundfartsbåden, stille, iagttagende og lyttende, mens bygninger, byggepladser og hyggelige husbåde passerer forbi som uvidende scenografi til det lydunivers, der udfolder sig omkring byen fra søsiden. På land finder man undervejs de otte musikere i hver deres alternative lydlaboratorier, hvorfra sejlturens soundscape skabes og radiosendes ned til bådens højtalere.

“Forestillingen har en musikalsk og geografisk tidslinje”, lyder præsentationen af Skræps koncert, inden båden lægger fra kaj ved Nordre Toldbod. Som der samtidig pointeres, bør vi betragte stedet som en koncertsal, mere end en havnerundfart. I båden bevæger vi os geografisk fra sted til sted mellem otte udvalgte steder på vandet, hvor man pludselig får øje på én af de otte kunstnere fra Skræp inde på land. Men det er også en musikalsk rejse gennem snørklede lydbilleder – rungende og skrigende og med en knugende dysterhed over sig.

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Aftensolens imponerende lyssætning over byen

Soundtrack til livet

Vi kender måske alle fornemmelsen, når man hører musik, mens man sidder i toget eller bussen og kigger ud på landskabet. Her skabes et poetisk rum af lyd og billeder, som er ens eget. Det tilhører kun én selv. Soundtracket til livet. De samme følelser opstår i “Radio Free Mermaid”. Men det er også en kollektiv oplevelse, som deles med de øvrige, der sejler forbi eller det vindrikkende solfolk på husbådene, der vinker ned til os. Alligevel fungerer lyden og musikken som ganske opbyggelig for al mulig tankevirksomhed og alenetid. Eller blot som tid til at tømme hovedet fuldstændig for tanker.

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Det kan være svært at få øje på performerne. Her er det Per Buhl der gemmer sig i åbningen på tredje etage

From outer space

“Mange venner boede på Kalvebod Brygge inden det sank i knæ under presset fra de mange højhuse, der landede from outer space. Jeg bader i havnen, så sparer jeg en tur til stranden. Og at sejle med bus-bådene er meget inspirerende.” 

Sådan forklarer Jørgen Teller, medvirkende kunstner i Skræp, sit forhold til havnen og vandet, da jeg et par dage inden forestillingen spørger ham, hvorfor det skal foregå på vand. Og som hans svar indikerer, skaber forestillingen en fusion af det organiske og uorganiske. “From outer space” kommer alt dette nybyggeri og skaber en ny æstetisk oplevelse af byen. Men de grundlæggende elementer som vand og sol, kan ingen pille ved. Modsætningen tematiseres i denne performance. På vandet ser jeg magelige måger, helt upåvirkede af det voluminøse lydunivers, der fylder det spektakulære scenerum ud. De mekaniske lyde er et sammensurium af havfruestemmer, instrumenter og synthesizere. Denne mekanik leger med naturens rytmiske bølgeskvulp og mågeskrig og forstærker samtidig hinanden i en transcenderende totaloplevelse.

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Ved Trekroner skimter vi Henning Frimann på slagtøj. Selvom han synes langt væk er lydende meget nærværende i båden, hvor vi er.

Hvor er melodien og meningen?

Melodien er fragmenteret og nærmest ikke-tilstedeværende, men sammenhængskraften er stor i de otte værker og steder, som vi møder undervejs. Mod slutningen synes intensiteten dog at dale, lydene udvikler sig i en mere kaotisk retning, og solen er gået ned bag nybyggeriet. Stemningen og luften er pludselig koldere. Men Skræp har måske netop formået at skabe en musikalsk oplevelse som er utrolig sensitiv overfor sine omgivelser. Når musikken er rytmisk og frisk, sejler båden lystigt afsted henover vandet. Når lydene bliver bedrøvelige og smertelige står båden næsten stille på vandet, letsvævende med få krusninger på den ellers blanke vandoverflade.

Sådan formår Skræp med dette totalkunstværk at bruge byens rum fra havsiden på en poetisk og nærværende facon, som udfordrer vores gængse måde at opfatte og forstå musik og billeder på. I virkeligheden er der nok slet ikke så meget at forstå. Det handler måske mest af alt om at overlade denne oplevelse til sanserne.

“Radio Free Mermaid” kan opleves for sidste gang lørdag d. 22. august kl. 19 og 22 med afgang fra Nordre Toldbod.

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Day 10 (épilogue): Ceci n’est pas moi*

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This last day at Dries Verhoeven’s art installation “Ceci n’est pas..” at Gammel Torv the shutters go up in the morning. It doesn’t reveal a living person this time, but living maggots or mealworms in the glass box. An urn with decorations is placed on top of the pile of worms. It turns slowly and its metallic surface reflects the sun. The same classical music as the first day flows out of the glass box and surrounds the audience as they crowd around box. The pile of worms reach up to the head, which allow you to see the surface of the overwhelming amount of worms wriggle, if you stretch a bit.

Three Danish women arrive at the glass box: “What are they eating?”, one of them is asking. “They eat the dead bodies – it is an urn standing on top of them”. A sound of chewing or slippery worms from the box supports that idea. Some young Danish girls pass the box: “Oh, what is that!?”.It is maggots.. and it has something to do with how we place the dead outside of the city”, one of them says. “But what is about more generally?”, the other girl asks. “It is about taboos”. Some people in the audience seem fascinated by the sight, while others are disgusted: ”Ugh, gross!”. They cannot stand the sight of it and leave quickly. Two girls, who stay, read the text and comment on the image: ”Yes it is worms, but it is also a person sort of.” The young people do not connect the image of death to themselves as the title suggests: “This is not me”.

For several of the seniors they perceive the image as clearly related to them. A elderly couple takes a quick look as they pass: ”This is what we will become one day”. Another elderly lady stays at the box for some time. She walks around it and takes her time to take in the experience. The lady meets two men a great number of years younger than her. They seem to know each other from somewhere. They start discussing the installation:

Now you should listen to a wise old woman. Live and death walk hand in hand, and this is a brutal but also a very simple way to show that one day we must all die. One day, when you get burned or buried..”

I will not be burned!”

Well, then buried. It doesn’t matter. You can choose it yourself. Then you will end up like this.”

Probably not that surprising the seniors find this image less frightening than the younger people in the crowd. They know that death is inevitably. When shutters go down this evening, today’s person is already laid to rest and the urn on top of the worms will be the last image that sticks to our retina. This last image of death is also the epilogue that closes Dries Verhoeven’s ten living images of society’s taboos. The last scenes the previous days end with the person inside the box is lying still with his or her eyes wide open. Thus we are everyday asked whether we prefer to shut our eyes for these taboos or do we dare to look our fears in the face? Do we dare to face the imperfection of the different aspects in our society and life? And how do the commercial pictures in public space affect our collective perception and ideals? Many people have returned to the Dries Verhoeven’s installation during the last ten days to be confronted with those kinds of questions through his images. But what is the biggest taboo in Denmark right now, according to the reception of the audience?

The image of a Muslim man praying in a bulletproof vest at day 8 caused the strongest reactions and most discussion among the audience. The man was sitting in a blue tunic and a black bulletproof vest on his carpet with at string of beads in his hand. A loud speaker was hanging down from the ceiling. First he looked concentrated counting the beads, then he looked strait into the eyes of the audience with a calm, mild look but maybe also a sad look. The sound of the muezzin’s call streamed out of the box and was heard from a distance. The man in the box got up on his feet then down to his knees with his forehead to the floor. This image made some people angry to see their religion exposed in this way, while others were touched to tears. Some other people did simply not want look at the box that day. Was it their fear exposed right there in the middle of Strøget? This image in particular made the different parts of Danish society discuss with each other.

__________

 Ceci n’est pas moi*
Historically, cemeteries in Denmark were located outside urban areas. According to roman convictions, the dead presented a threat to order within the sacred city limits. The dead were believed to pollute and create chaos.

Death nowadays is an even less public matter. Fewer elderly die in their own or their family’s home. Widows and widowers are not recognizable as such. The public display of loss and sadness is considered out of place, as are any signs of decay, degradation or destruction.

* This is not me

Ceci n’est pas moi*
Historisk set placerede man i Danmark kirkegårdene uden for bymæssige områder. Ifølge romersk overbevisning repræsenterede de døde en trussel mod orden inden for de hellige bygrænser. De døde mentes at forurene og skabe kaos.

Døden er i dag i endnu mindre grad et offentligt anliggende. Færre ældre dør i deres egne eller deres familiers hjem. Enker og enkemænd er ikke genkendelige som sådan. Offentlig visning af tab og sorg betragtes som upassende akkurat som tegn på forfald, nedbrydning og ødelæggelse.

* Dette er ikke mig

READ MORE about the Metropolis Festival and the artist Dries Verhoeven’s concept of “Ceci n’est pas” in this background article or on Københavns Internationale Teaters webpage.  Also check out the newspaper articles in Berlingske and Politiken

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Day 9: Ceci n’est pas mon corps*

Day 9 foto 1
Just before the opening of art installation “Ceci n’est pas…” at Gammel Torv the square is full of children trying to catch big soap bubbles blown by one of the entertainers next to the glass box. In the art history the soap bubbles is often an allegory of impermanence. This is opening is perfect for today’s topic.

When the shutters go up green high- heeled shoes appear on a lady sitting naked in a transparent chair. She looks likes she is in her old age judging from her skin on her body. When it comes to the breasts and her face those parts look younger, especially her face. Or is kind of a mask?

As soon as the box opens the place is crowded to find out what this is about. It is rather quiet around the box as people are paying much attention to lady inside. Many people in the audience ask if it is a real person or a robot. Several families are here. A little girl with her grandmother are standing in the crowd: “I am having a nightmare tonight”, the girl says and looks at her grandmother. Another girl with her mother is so surprised by the sight that she screams when they reach the front of the box. A father and his little boy stop to take a closer look. The boy is asking what it is, but the father wants to leave. The boy pulls the father towards the front and point towards the text: ”Something is written over there! What is it?”  The father says he can explain it to him when they leave. It seems like both some children and some adults are a bit frighten of today’s image. Teenagers in particular. A Swedish school class passes as they say: “ This is so scary! Is it a robot or a real person?” They continue to walk, but stop a 7/11 to watch the installation in a safe distance with their teacher. Some young people are taking their time though to read the text and discuss the image: “It is about the fact that the body is aging – watch she is all wrinkly”. It seems like several of the young people do not like the though of getting all old and wrinkly and that the mask scares some of them a bit.

Many senior citizens are stopping today and are highly represented today. Three elderly ladies are guessing the age of the woman in the box: “She must be around 60 years old. Look at her legs. Is it mask she is wearing? It is not consistent with the rest of the body.” A man arrives and asks the ladies what is happening. They explain that it shows something about the fact that the body is aging. The ladies are laughing and having a good time it seems like: “She is brave to sit here in front all these people.” Another group of seniors stop to see the woman in the glass box. The women go straight to the text on the side of the box. The man is waiting a bit away from the crowd with his crutches. The women return to him: “it s about how the body ages and how models get younger and younger. “ The seniors seem curious rather then offended by the image of today unlike many young teenagers. One of the frequent visitors of the installation arrives and explains to some young men the context: “Notice that old body and then look at her face, which is a mask. It is about the fact that we all age even though we don’t like to show it. Like in the model business, where they only use young people. And they get even younger and younger.”

Most people, at least for the Danish audience, discuss whether the person in the box is a man or woman. Therefore the discussions today also include the transgender question taken up at day 6 and questions about plastic surgery. The audience do not seem to be offended of disturbed by her nudity but a bit put out though. The woman in the box starts to take her hand up her arm very slowly and up to her face to remove some hair. The hair is blond and thick. As she moves the hand a crispy sound is heard outside the box as if her skin is dry and chapped. She is sitting with her legs crossed, but changes legs on in a while in slow motion.

When the shutters go up for the last time today the woman is lying still at the floor. Her hair covers most of her face. The image causes some reactions from the new audience. Some shake their heads. Others look troubled at her while standing as close to the glass as possible. When the shutters go down several people stay there unlike the other days.

_______

 Ceci n’est pas mon corps*
The human body starts to show signs of ageing after the age of 20. Degeneration occurs as a result of free radicals attacking the body, which damages the DNA structure. Wrinkles are caused by repetitive motions of the skin, like the act of smiling. The reduced level of elastin creates a larger skin surface, for example under the chin.

The average age in Denmark is 41, and this age is increasing. Professional models keep getting younger and younger. Ideally they start their careers when they are between 14 and 19 years of age.

* This is not my body

Ceci n’est pas mon corps*
Den menneskelige krop begynder at vise tegn på aldring fra 20-årsalderen. Degenerering opstår som følge af frie radikalers angreb på kroppen, hvilket skader DNA-strukturen. Rynker skyldes repetitive bevægelser af huden så som smil. Det reducerede niveau af elastin skaber en større hudoverflade, f.eks. under hagen.

Gennemsnitsalderen i Danmark er 41, og den er stigende. Professionelle modeller bliver stadigt yngre og yngre. Ideelt set begynder de deres karriere, når de er mellem 14 og 19 år gamle.

* Dette er ikke min krop

READ MORE about the Metropolis Festival and the artist Dries Verhoeven’s concept of “Ceci n’est pas” in this background article or on Københavns Internationale Teaters webpage.  Also check out the newspaper articles in Berlingske and Politiken

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Engram – En countdown mod døden

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Engram – En countdown mod døden

”Man skal leve hver dag, som var det den sidste.” Sådan lyder et gammelt ordsprog, hvilket for mig synes at være mantraet i audiowalken Engram af den svenske teatergruppe Osynliga Teatern.

I Engram stilles lytteren overfor spørgsmålet: Hvad ville du savne mest ved livet, hvis du kun havde 640 åndedrag tilbage? – Et spørgsmål som i bund og grund er helt umuligt at svare på men bestemt værd at reflektere over.

I kapløb med tiden

Udstyret med høretelefoner træder jeg ind i Vor Frue Kirke. Jeg bliver bedt om at trække vejret dybt og får så at vide, at jeg nu kun har 639 åndedrag tilbage – puha jeg bliver allerede helt forpustet ved tanken og føler mig lidt i kapløb med tiden. Med en rolig klavermelodi i mine ører finder jeg mig selv i færd med at kigge rundt i kirkerummet – en smule febrilsk, da en stemme har opfordret mig til at se kirken, som var det den sidste gang. Hvad ville jeg huske? Alteret? Englene? Bænkene? Mit blik fæstner sig på de fire nonner, som stille og roligt nærmest svæver op ad kirkegulvet – dem vil jeg huske.

Du er ikke alene

Udenfor er jeg vidne til, hvordan nogle af de andre publikummer lægger en hånd på hinandens skuldre, hvorfor ord som: trøst, støtte og næstekærlighed flyver igennem mit hoved og minder mig om, hvor flygtigt livet er. Senere på vandringen mærker jeg selv, hvordan en andens hånd bliver lagt på min skulder, som en påmindelse om at vi ikke er alene hverken nu eller i resten af livet. Nu har jeg kun 290 åndedrag tilbage, lyder meldingen i min øresnegl.

Levende historier fra de døde

I Engram fortælles historier af de døde til de levende. Undervejs på turen dukker stemmen af en dødssyg mand op i mine øre: ”I thought about writing you a letter, but then I thought, I would rather be a voice than words on a piece of paper” – her mister jeg flere åndedræt i træk. Han fortæller sin historie om sin sidste tid. Hvordan han pakker sine ting for at tage på hospice. Hvor træt han er: “I didn’t know you could be that tired!” – endnu et par åndedræt undslipper mig. Jeg kigger op og lægger mærke til, hvor langt der egentlig er op til himlen.

Nedtælling til stilhed

Vi går nu tættere sammen og bliver bedt om at skynde os igennem en korridor, da vi kun har 20 åndedrag tilbage. For enden af korridoren samles vi omkring et lille springvand på en åben plads. Folk omkring gør plads til, at vi kan sidde på bænken. Her er alle velkomne, og alle oplever dette sammen her og nu. Verden rundt om lukkes ude, så jeg slet ikke giver plads til bevidstheden om min ellers udsædvanlige og grænseoverskridende optræden i byens rum. Stående i rundkreds rundt om vandet, der sprudler af liv og energi, og kun med 6 åndedrag tilbage, hører vi, hvordan mandens og hans pårørendes hænder mødes. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out… stilhed.

Glad for at være i live og med rygsækken fuld af minder fra og refleksioner over mit eget liv, tager jeg hovedtelefonerne af og kan på tilbagevejen ikke lade være med at lytte til og se ekstra meget på mine omgivelser.

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Teater på afstand, tæt på og med højt til loftet

Kostfejende mærkelig figur i et vindblæst hjørne på Refshaleøen. Foto: Maja Nydal Eriksen

Kostfejende mærkelig figur i et vindblæst hjørne på Refshaleøen. Foto: Maja Nydal Eriksen

Teater på afstand, tæt på og med højt til loftet

Selvom udgangspunktet ”vandreforestilling på Refshaleøens ukendte steder” er ens for de to forestillinger 12 og Phoenix, er teateroplevelsen utrolig forskellig og med til at vise, hvor vidt teatermediet kan strække sig.

Gennem en lang og smuk vandring i store åbne industrielle områder med performere, der pludselig dukker op og laver kunster, byder 12 på det, jeg vil kalde for, ”teater på afstand”. Hvorimod Phoenix tager dig med på en personlig og sanselig vandring, der rent praktisk blot går rundt i en ring, men oplevelsesmæssigt tager dig med på en lang rejse ind i og ud af dig selv – det er ”teater tæt på”.

Teater er indre og ydre billeder

Med vinden i ryggen og aftensolen i øjnene begiver jeg mig ud for enden af dokken. Mit blik fæstner sig på en kvindekrop på den anden side af havnebassinet, der hænger slapt ud af et dæk fastspændt på siden af skibskajen. Jeg er i tvivl, om det er en voksdukke eller et levende menneske. Hendes lange hår flyder frem og tilbage i vandet i takt med bølgernes skvulpen. Dette på en gang skrøbelige og stærke billede fra ”Tørdok 1”, én af 12’s tre ruter, indprenter sig straks på min nethinde sammen med et hav af andre pop-up-billeder, så det tilsammen danner en collage – et begreb koreograf Kitt Johnson selv anvender til at genrebetegne forestillingen.

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I Phoenix oplevede jeg mere, at de indre billeder var på spil både med hjælp fra en rolig stemme i høretelefonerne og i samspil med den smukke lyrik og omgivelserne. Men også uden headset i de intime møder med performerne: Mørket omslutter mig i det kolde betonrum, hvor kun lyden af en kvindes tunge vejrtrækken og min egen hjertebanken fylder rummet. Mine øjne og mit sind er meget lang tid om at vænne sig til mørket, som dermed tvinger de indre billeder frem: Rummet er fyldt med mennesker eller fugle!? Er der vand på gulvet eller et stort hul ned til afgrunden foran mig? Filmrullen løber ud, i det øjeblik et par hænder møder mine hænder, og vores vejrtrækninger synkroniseres.

Mærke sig selv blive stor og lille

Den fysiske berøring i Phoenix er også en forskel fra 12, hvor jeg på intet tidspunkt var i fysik kontakt med performerne. Tværtimod legedes der her med det dybe perspektiv, som den klassiske teaterbygning automatisk sætter en stopper for, så performerne oftest befandt sig ude i horisonten – igen ”teater på afstand”. I Phoenix var den nære kropskontakt og det, at man var på en individuel vandring, en medskabende faktor til, at jeg i høj grad oplevede, hvordan forestillingen kom til at handle om mig selv og min krop. I 12 mærkede jeg derimod den befriende følelse af at være et lille væsen i en stor verden. Alle mine bekymringer føltes for en stund ligegyldige i dette åbne ingenmandsland, i teatret med højt til loftet.

I Phoenix kunne man ikke lave denne tilbagetrækning fra sin bevidsthed. Tværtimod var det teater så tæt på, at det fik mig til at indse vigtigheden af, at vi nogle gange tillader os at sænke tempoet, kigge ind i os selv og samtidig betragte os selv udefra. Alt sammen for at mærke hvordan vores krop er en yderst afgørende brik i det store verdenspuslespil.

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Fri leg i virkelighedens kulisser

I eftertanken til begge teateroplevelser står begrebet ”fri leg” tydelig for mig. I 12 leger performerne på Refshaleøens rå og enorme legeplads, og i Phoenix får du fra start at vide: ”Whatever happens is how it should happen.”, hvilket spiller godt sammen med den stedsspecifikke genre – for når virkeligheden er kulisserne, bliver selv den stærkeste vind på Refshaleøen en fantastisk med- og modspiller.

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Day 8: Ceci n’est pas notre peur*

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Yet another interesting day at “Ceci n’est pas” – the art installation at Gammel Torv by the Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven. Still more people come to visit or revisit the art installation with a friend. Today’s topic makes many people check the bulletproof glass of the box.

The day begins with an apology from a man. He visited the box yesterday and he was jumping up and down knocking really hard on the window where the woman was siting with her drinks. He was trying to get the attention from the audience for some reason by saying he was the artist behind it, and that they should look at him instead. Today he will try to be calmer, he says.

When the shutters go up a man is sitting on a carpet with at string of beads in his hand. A loudspeaker is hanging down from the ceiling. As he counts the beads he is saying something that the audience cannot hear. Only the sound from each bead can be heard on the metallic floor. He looks concentrated. He has taken off his shoes and wears a blue tunic and a black vest. “Why is he wearing a bulletproof vest? Or “is it an explosive belt?”. These are some of the questions that kick-starts today’s discussions. A Danish young couple are looking at the man praying in the box. As they read the text one of them explain that it is about our imaginary fear. People are approaching the box with a serious look on their faces.

An elderly Danish couple pass the glass box without stopping: “Come on!”, the woman says to her husband. Two Danish men act the similar way: “Hallo, keep walking!”, one of them is saying to the other. A Danish group of two elderly women and a man are also in a hurry. When one of the women stops to take closer look at the installation, the other woman comes to take her with her. They leave. Two elderly Danish ladies go: ”Is it Jesus counting something?” They come a bit closer, but the other lady say:”Come on!”. They leave. Some Danish families have arrived at Gammel Torv. A mother explains to her child that it is Muslim praying to his god Allah. Like they pray to God. A father tells his daughter that this picture means that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Many Danish Muslims and tourist stop to take a closer look and to discuss what they see.
A group of Muslim young women express how they perceive this picture: “I see a man praying and I understand the message as you should not be afraid of this religion. Everyone should be accepted.” A lady arrives and asks them about where the girls are from. They change into another language, Arabic perhaps, as they discuss and point at the installation and the man inside. The sound of the muezzin’s call streams out of the box and is heard from a distance. This is not a sound that normally you hear in Denmark. This attracts more people, for instance a mother wearing a veil and her child. They stand in the crowd as the man turns his head and looks strait into her eyes with a calm and mild look. They keep eye contact for a while and the mother starts to weep. The man in the box gets up, opens his hands and cross them at his stomach. He falls down to his knees and put his forehead to the floor. He repeats it several times.

A group of young men arrive and discuss, why he is wearing a vest. In the beginning in Danish then in Arabic, possibly. They walk away and look at the crowd from a distance, but after a while they return to see the next round (the shutter go up and down once in a while). In front of the box they start talking to a Danish young couple: “What is it about?”. The couple has been visiting the installation several days: ”It is about showing the thing that we are unfamiliar with. Or things that we fear.” A group of Danish Muslims girls arrives. They discuss whether they like the installation or not. One of them is pointing out several things that don’t match a real prayer, according to her. And it is not right to expose religion in this way, especially not when he is wearing the vest. It gives associations to terrorism. A Danish Muslim man returns after a quick view and a statement “nonsense”. This time he walks in in front of the audience and speaks out loud: ”He is not a real Muslim – he doesn’t looks towards Mecca. He is nasty!” He leaves while as the rest stays. Two Danish men originally from Syria find the installation quite interesting and they think it is a good way to show that there is nothing to fear.

When the shutters go up for the last time this evening the man inside the box is lying still on his carpet. The muezzin is heard again. More people come to see what is going on. Some young men check out bulletproof glass of the box. They have a serious look in their faces when the shutters go down.

_________________

Ceci n’est pas notre peur*
Fear is a defence mechanism. When there are worrying signs, the amygdala regulates the secretion of stress hormones. In this way, the body prepares itself to fight or to flee. The focus shifts to the threat, and superfluous details are no longer perceived. When the threatening situation appears too great, humans retreat to familiar ground.

Since 2001, the need for a familiar structure has led to an increase in orthodox believers as well as fear of foreign religions.

* This is not our fear

Ceci n’est pas notre peur*
Frygt er en forsvarsmekanisme. Når der er situationer, der bekymrer os, reg- ulerer amygdala udskillelsen af stresshormoner. Således forbereder kroppen sig på at kæmpe eller flygte. Fokus skifter til truslen, og overflødige detaljer opfanges ikke længere. Når den truende situation fremstår uoverkommelig, søger mennesket mod det velkendte.

Siden 2001 har behovet for velkendte strukturer medført en stigning i antal- let af ortodokse troende så vel som øget frygt for fremmede religioner.

* Dette er ikke vores frygt

READ MORE about the Metropolis Festival and the artist Dries Verhoeven’s concept of “Ceci n’est pas” in this background article or on Københavns Internationale Teaters webpage.  Also check out the newspaper articles in Berlingske and Politiken

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Day 7: Ceci n’est pas notre désir*

Foto 2 Day 6 copy

Today the display box has been in Copenhagen at Gammel Torv for a week. It means that some people have returned during the week to see what topic or taboo is taken up today.
Also a lot of new people visit or bump into the installation “Ceci n’est pas” by the Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven. A couple of English speaking young women go: “I pass by this every day and still I don’t get it.” They don’t stop to figure out. Other people who stay a little longer show the wish to discuss with each other today.

When the shutters go up a woman dressed in a fur with red high-heeled shoes and black shiny tights is appearing. She sits at a stool at a bar table full of drinks. She looks around and rocks a little to the party music, which is pumping out of the box. A pretty normal sight, if you go out in the Copenhagen nightlife. What is remarkable is her height. She is very little and her legs are very short. She lights a cigarette and looks around at the audience with a flirtatious look.

“Why should this be an attraction?”
“Hope she gets money for it.”
“This is odd. This is really bad art!”

Today’s topic about physical handicap and sexual ideals shown in this way shocks and provokes the audience. “Is it real person?” This is by the way a frequently asked question everyday. Maybe because we are not use to see a person exhibited in a glass box in a public space… anymore. It is something that belongs to the past. Three elderly ladies walk by the box: “This is like in the past, where people were exhibited – I don’t like it.” They choose not to stay for so long. Other people among the audience stay a little bit longer. Some people think that the glass chair makes an optical illusion and that her legs are hidden underneath. Especially many Danish youngsters appear to be unfamiliar with the sight of a little person. It seems like they find it hard to talk about it in a proper manner and they leave quite quickly.

A part of grown-up crowd takes their time to discuss and hear the different point of views, for instance two young women and an elderly old lady. The lady thinks it is grotesque to display the woman in this way. The two women express that they think it is an interesting way to draw attention to the topic. Their discussion is a proof of that, one of them says. It makes them think about whether it is right to choose not to have a baby with a physical handicap. The elderly lady is together with her friends. One of them remembers that for a long time ago she experienced an exhibition in Hamburg that exhibited little people from a circus, which gave her a bad association. Many people take their time to explain the context of today’s displayed woman. “Little people should also be able to enjoy life and go to a bar and so on. “ and “It is for the purpose of focus on the challenges of sexuality and having a physical handicap.”. “..It is about tolerance”, a man comic costume says. He has visited the installation several times either on his way to or home from a street performance in Strøget supposedly.

Another man is expressing that he doesn’t like what he is seeing and he is ready to leave the square. After a discussion with a person, who problematizes his point of view, he chooses to go the box to read the text. Afterwards he changes his mind a bit and sees that the intention might not be to expose the woman inside the box against her will. Some people in the audience suggest that woman is an exhibitionist and that she is doing the show to attract attention. Other people say that this might be what she is doing for a living. There is quite some tension among the audience today. I seems like some people get offended by others taking pictures of the woman. This results in audience taking pictures of other people in the audience to document it. Some tourists choose openly to pose in front of the box for a Kodac moment or to wave and jump in front of the box.

Today people some Danish people express that think the woman in the box is brave to sit in there with a whole crowd around her. “Brave”, “Fresh”,“She is so fine”. They smile to her. A group of Americans also seem to find the topic interesting after a longer discussion: “The more we talk about it, the more I start appreciating this contemporary art”.

When shutters go up for the last time today the woman is lying still at her stool.

______________

 Ceci n’est pas notre désir*

A physical handicap often has a negative effect on sexual attraction. This is in part determined culturally. Socially accepted ideal images nestle themselves in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls sexual attraction.

It also has biological roots. Every human being unconsciously seeks to improve his species through reproduction, the so-called natural selection. He or she will search for the partner that appears most suitable for the creation of healthy and successful children.

Screening for a possible genetic defect in a foetus has become part of standard prenatal screening programmes. The number of women who decide to interrupt their pregnancy due to an unwanted diagnosis has increased over the last decade.

*This is not our desire

 

Ceci n’est pas notre désir*

Et fysisk handikap har oftest negativ indflydelse på seksuel tiltrækningskraft. Dette skyldes til dels vores kultur. Socialt accepterede idealbilleder lagres i hypothalamus, den del af hjernen, der kontrollerer seksuel tiltrækning.

Det har ligeledes biologiske rødder. Ethvert menneske søger ubevidst at forbedre arten gennem reproduktion, den såkaldte naturlige selektion. Han eller hun søger efter den partner, som forekommer bedst egnet til at skabe sunde og succesfulde børn.

Det er blevet en del af det almindelige scanningsprogram for gravide at scanne for mulige genfejl i fostret. Antallet af kvinder, som vælger at afbryde deres graviditet på grund af en uønsket diagnose, er øget gennem de seneste ti år.

* Dette er ikke vores begær

READ MORE about the Metropolis Festival and the artist Dries Verhoeven’s concept of “Ceci n’est pas” in this background article or on Københavns Internationale Teaters webpage.  Also check out the newspaper articles in Berlingske and Politiken

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