#metropolis13: CPH’s urban space festival

Update 2: the 2016 Nordic Urban Lab explored “alternative urban strategies and practice where artistic practice and a broad cultural approach is key”, aka culturally driven urban processes. Three main aspects: activating community involvement/ownership, ensuring socially sustainable models of change, and using artistically and creative driven urban processes. Mapping and research is involved – see Changing Metropolis III, a rather unmanageable 302 pages on Issuu.

Day 1 featured a nice keynote from Phil Wood (@PhilWood11; has a chapter in Walking inside out), skewering inter alia the Nordic model, city boosterism, gentrification and the hipsterisation of culture via the society of spectacle, and being ‘the best’. Let’s hear it for people over 40 : p One problem with collaborative urbanism though is that there is a danger you end up with Hvidovre Bymidte.

Update 1: #metropolis15 ran from 12-30 August, but try as I might I couldn’t find anything of interest. Here’s an interesting piece on how the thing started instead.

The Metropolis Festival is taking place during the whole of August. Copenhagen is awash with festivals, it’s all part of the experience economy. But #metropolis13, organised by Københavns Internationale Teater, is welcome, especially as it lasts for ten. years (2007-17). See Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | blog (all limited).

we aim to disturb, confuse and enchant the city with artistic surprise attacks

Okey dokey. Art infiltrates CPH, transforming the city into an unpredictable experience space, subverting its structure and tearing the inhabitants away from their routines…seven of the 13 productions resonate, although Afternoon of a Foehn has its own appeal.



photo credit: Politiken

The festival opened with DOMINOES (Station House Opera, UK) – 7000 concrete blocks discovering a new 3 km route through hidden alleyways and well known buildings…that’s never going to work! But it did (see review) – apart from the streaming, which went down. The main features seemed to be volunteers pleading with people to keep out of the way and bystanders waving mobiles. Handful of pics and a couple of Vines via #metropolis13 on Twitter, plus an official film (and in this post) – strangely mesmerising. Post-conference ideas were called for on what to do with the 7000 blocks.

Over 20.000 mennesker fulgte vores 7000 kæmpe dominoblokke gennem byen i går. Gaderne var proppet med mennesker, folk hang ud ad vinduerne med kameraer, og Rådhuspladsen lignede en scene fra EM i ’92.

100% København

“I am the 1 %” – docutheatre from Rimini Protokoll (D), with 100 people statistically selected in a sort of chain reaction to match the city’s demography – so 51 women, 14 born outside Europe, 50 living on their own, 8 out of work, 30 under 25. Live polls, interviews and statistical anomalies aimed at challenging clichés and prejudice – not sure how much that was achieved. Interesting interview with Daniel Wetzel, plus a bunch of blog posts by participants (one | two | three | four).

Saturn II

photo credit: Københavns Internationale Teater

Saturn II (Karl Van Welden, B) was an installation on the roof of Maskincentralen in Carlsberg Byen. Basically, eight telescopes with views over the city, but with a supposed added frisson of voyeurism. If you say so. Two blog posts (one | two). It has to be said, in as flat a country a Denmark getting up high may well offer a new perspective.


How technology is transforming reality and creating parallel universes.

  • LIKE ME – “take your avatar for a walk”, an interactive audio walk designed by Judith Hofland (NL) tackling digital identity issues – are our physical and virtual identities different? is there a difference in how we meet people? The LIKE ME app, loaded on an ipod, asks you questions as you walk to create a virtual profile (stored on a Raspberry Pi for 30 minutes, ie no data from project); Judith thinks virtual profiles are more carefully constructed, we can choose a picture more perfect than we are in reality, we have more control, but which is ‘real’? Is it safer in the virtual world or in the flesh? During the walk participants met someone else – first via their LIKE ME profile and then in real life. Two blog posts on this one (one | two), plus an article and on Harddisken; the walk is not really central here, but still an interesting concept.
  • C:A.P.E. (Computer Automatic Personal Environment from CREW, B) – moving on to virtual drifts through the Japanese city of Tohuko, destroyed by the tsunami, unknown sides of Brussels and a magical wonderland – an immersive experience, all a bit Google Glass; blog posts (one | two)
  • Din by er særlig, a city walk on 28 August, hosted by TeaterKunst

Field Office

Photo credit: Field Office CPH

Invisible Playground (D) presented Field Office – channel your “indre legebarn” in a series of games aimed at transforming the complex systems of the city and making its invisible playgrounds visible. My inner child doesn’t play games, but there were some psychogeographic posts on the Field Office CPH tumblr during the three week ‘research’ period, plus an interview with Viktor Bedö and blog post. The games: Unlock | Butchers vs bitches | The game of Jante | Walking across a bridge trying to formulate one clear thought – see photos on Facebook.

Aeropolis Aeropolis (Plastique Fantastique, D), a pop-up community centre in a bubble,  floated for nearly a month around 13 locations with 13 themes curated by local cultural actors – see blog post. Of interest-ish:

  • Amager/Reberbanegade: Mit Sted/Min By, storytelling and personal histories, with a lecture from Bjarne Fey (Amagerbro Kultur), and stories from Tomas Lagermann Lundme (partner of Jan LL of #escdk fame; Punker i Amagercentret), and Erling Jepsen (Provinsen Amar)
  • Valby/Smedestræde – Ordboble:” Frank Langmack skriver et værk live, bogstav for bogstav, mens boblen forvandles til en lysende storskærm”; Frank Langmack sidder i Gl. Valby og skriver en novelle, som foregår i Gl. Valby – og lader sig inspirere af menneskene og miljøet omkring ham; skriveprocessen live-streames og projekteres på boblen; Martin Glaz Seerup og illustrator Lilian Brøgger præsenterer deres børnebog Yana og Eliah gennem oplæsning, live-tegning og projektioner på boblen

Taking it forward – many of the projects were generated at the 2012 Metropolis Laboratory, which may be happening again next year. Metropolis itself returns in 2015 – I’ll probably be sitting the Ny Cirkus Festival in 2014 out.


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