Vestegnens Kulturuge 2017: digital art, mindfulness and poetry

Vestegnens Kulturuge (FB; previous years) is usually almost exclusively family oriented, but this year it turned up some ‘high’ culture in the shape of a subset of events around 1980s poet Michael Strunge amidst the broader theme of PÅ ELEKTRISK GRUND (sic; FB).

Sadly though much of the week was a wash-out, grey and chilly with prolonged rain and some slushy hail to finish. Two events were cancelled: Mosensdag in Vallensbæk, due to the bog/marsh, which acts as a flood basin leading water away from nearby houses, being completely under water, and Copenhagen Art Run in Ishøj Strandpark, deemed unsafe due to the conditions.

Where last year there were giants, this year there was Tryllebundet (Spellbound), six exhibits in containers showing the latest in digital art, coordinated by Vallensbæk’s DIAS Kunsthal. As well as the works themselves DIAS put together a number of accompanying activities and a Google Map of the area’s public art – now that is handy!

Forstadsmuseet had a Hvidovre-based game (with notebook and pencil; update: got my hands on this analogue artefact, developed in conjunction with Play Agency – looks very impressive), plus re-runs of some of its walks, while Rødovre opened up its bunker, a kommunale kommandocentral under Arne Jacobsen’s library, who knew, as part of its Cold War project.

Each of the six kommuner had its special day, largely unrelated to the overall theme, made up of events organised by local foreninger with the communal culture centre as venue. Hvidovre, perhaps making up for the lack of a shiny culture centre while we wait for the new bymidte, mounted two special days, pushing the boat out on the second Saturday of the ‘week’ in Hvidovre C with a range of events including a 12 hour mindfulness themed soveconcert (Sleep Concert), from GoSlow and sound artist Karsten Pflum. Gosh.

The previous Saturday was centred around Hvidovre town hall at the opposite end of the kommune. This included readings in Risbjerggård from personal fave Søren Ulrik Thomsen, a contemporary of Michael Strunge, and Caspar Eric, very much inspired by him.

Other Strunge related events included several riffs on the title of his 1984 collection Væbnet med vinger:

Michael Strunge (1958-86) was born in a clinic in Rødovre (venue of Denmark’s first punk gig by Sods in 1977) and grew up in Hvidovre, specifically in Berners Vænge, on the modernist Bredalsparken estate. He went to Sønderkærskolen (reminiscences) before attending Vestre Borgerdyd Gymnasium on Sjælør Boulevard in Valby.

Between 1978 and 1985 he published 11 collections of poetry, most of it written in a flat he shared with his girlfriend in Hvidovre. He died in 1986 at the age of 27, like his heroes Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison, jumping out of a window at Webersgade 17 in Østerbro (plaque), and is buried in Assistens Kirkegård.

A figurehead for his generation and usually dubbed a ‘punk’ poet, but we’re not really talking John Cooper Clarke here:

Søren Ulrik Thomsen was born in Kalundborg and spent most of his childhood in Stevns, but at the reading admitted to living on Arnold Nielsens Boulevard from the age of 2-6, in one of the red and white blocks at the Hvidovrevej end. He knew Strunge well, although was careful to stress that they were very different in personality.

Fondly known as Hvidovre’s tourist bureau, SUT cited the “rigtig smukt forstadsbyggeri” Berners Vænge in Politiken’s Riv byen ned series. A poem in his latest collection has the title I Hvidovre, på novemberdage (translation by Susanna Nied, p19), while a recent essay includes the indispensable quote:

og jeg ser for mig, Hvidovre for fyrre år siden, som med små selvbyggerhuse og lys og luft mellem boligblokkene vel både historisk og geografisk var “den første forstad”, med alt, hvad det indbefattede af søde drømme om en lille sort folkevogn og et tv-apparat og i det hele taget et bedre liv end det, der levedes f.eks. på Vesterbro, som Hvidovre må være udflytning af

[and I see before me the Hvidovre of forty years ago, which with its small self-built houses and open spaces between the tower blocks was probably the first suburb, both historically and geographically, with all that entails: sweet dreams of a little black Beetle and a television and all in all a better life than that lived for example in Vesterbro, which Hvidovre may be a relocation of]

Perhaps the suburbs still have an authenticity of time and place, less found in today’s Happy CPH. In København con amore (2006), the product of trips to the outer reaches of CPH with photographer Jokum Rohde, SUT presents photos of two very local spots, Hvidovrevejens Partyslagter at Hvidovrevej 277 (now Pangs Smørrebrød), while Lis’s Kaffebar at 340 C is now occupied by Hot & Cool and French Chicken. Things are changing, even in Hvidovre.

Back to Strunge with Vestegnens KulturCast, an enthusiastic effort from Vallensbæk Kultur- og Borgerhus, with two dedicated episodes plus full interviews with Anne Marie Mai and Jørgen Aabenhus. The second episode has readings from Asger Schnack in Taastrup Bibliotek and from school students in the 9th class in Vallensbæk. All well worth a listen.

In 1985 AMM and MS published Mai Strunge, a book of their conversations and letters. She followed this up in 2008 with an anthology, En bog om Michael Strunge, on what would have been his 50th birthday, co-edited with JA. In her interview she stated that MS was an ‘anarkistisk kameleon’, unconstrained by fashions/styles in poetry and uninterested in socially engaged poems with a message.

JA examined MS’s relationship with life in the suburbs, not least as reflected in his 1981 poem COMA, observing people waiting at a bus stop on Hvidovrevej. At that time Hvidovre was very homogeneous, middelmådig and småborgelig, a poster child for the velfærdssamfund – and a prime case for teenage rebellion. There’s a tension here with hygge, of which I’m guessing MS wasn’t a big fan, but as JA pointed out hygge is more likely to be found in the home than at a bus stop.

By way of contrast, when asked a brace of Vestegnen residents named the slower tempo of life, which you notice as soon as you get off said bus, vs too much traffic, too many people and the lack of greenery in the city, as the advantages of living in the suburbs today.

More Strunge? see Litteratursiden, which also has a recent feature on 1980s literature, and biographies by Knud Munck (2001) and Peter Rewers (2015). For more SUT, see People vs place in Copenhagen.


Vestegnens Kulturuge 2016: forgotten giants and guerilla knitting

Update, Nov: spotted in our local library, a booklist from the six library services covering the topics of ghettoen, forstadsliv, de fremmede, to be or not to be and på den anden side – mainly Danish books, and very well done, but not traced online – seems a bit of a wasted effort

Fourth time of asking for our local festival, Vestegnens Kulturuge (2013 | 2014 | 2015), which ran from 9-18 September. Aimed increasingly at Familien Danmark, like so many festivities in Happy DK, with lean pickings for those not in that demographic. One news story even went so far as to highlight a classical concert as an event for those interested in ‘culture’, so kudos to Albertslund, offering a range of Hamlet themed events as the final part of its participation in the literary exhibition hall project, plus a kunstvandring.

While generally each of the six kommuner do their own thing during the festival period, Thomas Dambo’s Forgotten Giants project (Vestegnens Kulturuge) extended across the whole area, with six sculptures constructed over a period of six months. Made from recycled wood and built with the help of volunteers, the giants were hailed by local mayors as illustrating Vestegnen’s values: working together, recycling and volunteering.

In a sort of ‘because it’s there’ approach, we picked up our first giant in Ishøj back in June, mopping up the final one in our manor both under construction and at its fernisering. While the project did fulfill its stated aim of taking us to new parts of Vestegnen, it also showed off the bleakness of its over-planned nether regions, empty streets of low rise sprawl broken only by broad roads, reachable mainly by motorway or local train, with all traces of life hidden away.

Driving out to Høje Taastrup all the way down ruler-straight Roskildevej through a stretch lined with shiny sheds we could have been in the USA, an impression only reinforced by a pit stop at Wittrup Motel. Having located the giant via iphone (as well as being forgotten ie glemt, most of the sculptures are also hidden, ie gemt) we snapped it and exited, never likely to return. Sited in a low-lying marsh, now managed parkland, and a stone’s throw from the motorway, the background hum of traffic was ever present – a common problem in the area.

So let’s call it for an enterprising soul in Hvidovre who set up a Strik byen smuk project (broadly: Knit the city prettystory), which can’t quite be called for guerilla knitting due to its planned nature, but heck, this is Denmark, nothing happens without a plan. Mainly around the town hall, and taken down in no short order by Monday morning.

Knitting also featured in the 1970s themed Golden Days festival, also taking place during September throughout the Greater Copenhagen region. Ishøj library offered a session on Hønsestrik, a feminist inspired knitting movement kicked off by Kirsten Hofstätter’s 1973 manifesto, riffing on women as a flock of hens (høns) and dispensing with patterns. Rather more upmarket, the new Kähler i Tivoli enterprise hosted a knitting salon on the same theme.

Before you say: how hyggeligt, yes indeed, but the knitters, lucky with the weather (soggy knitting would not have been great), were plagued by thefts and vandalism, malicious or no, so some norms do apply. And interestingly, Dambo’s sculptures outside DK tend to have rather more edge.

Also running over the summer was Stemmer fra Hvidovre (Voices from Hvidovre; story | again | yet again | critique | response | again | again), egnsteater from Teater Vestvolden, a former children’s theatre gradually offering some rather more innovative productions. Taking the form of teatret i byrummet, the production was part of the current wave of site specific theatre. 40 people per performance were driven around the locality in a toy train in search of Hvidovre’s DNA, hearing stories old and new from a squad of 90 volunteers in a celebration of Hvidovre’s fællesskab (community spirit) and foreningsliv (participation in clubs and societies).

With schools in Denmark starting the new term in early/mid August Vestegnens Kulturuge represents a good opportunity to enjoy late summer, which tends to have rather better weather than the increasingly unreliable mass holiday month of July. As well as Golden Days it overlaps with a cornucopia of other festivals, including NaturensdagAeronautisk Dag, Mosensdag, Copenhagen Art Run (Vinkbh)…and with a clang of inevitability, Family Days.

Albertslund: utopia in a Danish suburb

Last updated: 25 March 2018

The Vestegnen municipality of Albertslund was created out of bare ground on fields west of Copenhagen in the 1960s and 1970s to a 1957 ‘garden city’ masterplan. Named after a French count who fled to Denmark in 1802 and established a farm in the area, the kommune‘s coat of arms features a vaguely Gallic looking cockerel.

Until 1973 the new municipality was known as Herstederne, after the villages of Herstedvester and Herstedøster. Other subsumed villages include Vridsløse and Risby, all to the north of the business end of things in Albertslund Syd.

Albertslund Syd

the Albertslund Syd masterplan

Albertslund is on the Roskilde – or index – finger of Copenhagen’s 1947 Finger Plan. Separated from neighbouring Brøndby by an industrial zone lining some wide roads, a large area is taken up by Coop Danmark’s headquarters. A further 60% of the municipality is covered by forests and green areas, including a hill created from construction detritus. The main transport arteries are Roskildevej and the B S-train line, plus the network of motorways which slices through Vestegnen’s otherwise continuous sprawl.

Suburb or town? The dream of creating a ‘cradle to grave’ town was in full swing when Albertslund Syd was constructed. The population grew from 3000 to 30,000 over a period of eight years, and today is around 27.7K. 61% of housing is social, income per capital is low, immigrant count is high. Has Albertslund succeeded in establishing its own identity, a place you would visit even if you didn’t live in the area?

The town centre was put together from the standard checklist of station (1963), town hall (1971), cultural house (1974/1996; now MusikTeatret), library (1974/2004) and church (Opstandelseskirken, 1984), plus obligatory shopping (unlike most shopping centres on Vestegnen open to the elements). Walking around on a Sunday in late February, when Denmark is at its most bare and bleak, there was a definite buzz, with people going around their business and a fair number of cafes actually occupied. Two elements help create the feel of place – the use of canals in the streetscape, making an attraction out of the rainwater drainage system, plus some interesting (and mainly successful) public art.

canal in the town centre

Strictly zoned, with a network of roads and bike/pedestrian paths and a good selection of under/overpasses, the centre gives way on one side to three storey blocks and on the other to clusters of small one-storey gårdhuse and two-storey terraces in an almost Hobbit scale landscape built over a period of three years. Emphatically low rise and high density, with an accompanying lack of horizon, this area feels inward focused, invisible and almost apologetic, although some open spaces have been created by staggering the terraces.

Typically for the time only white, black and grey were used, to allow the residents to add their own personal touch. Equally typically, the gardens are private, with windows facing the street or common areas. With today’s eyes these decisions have led to monotony and uniformity, but at the time it all seemed exciting and new, offering more than ample space, light and air. Less happily, by 1974 it was clear that the roofs were leaky, leading to a drawn out tagsage (roof case; story), renovations costing a total of DK 25 million and 50% rent increases in 1978.

Albertslund Bibliotek is currently hosting Utopia, a multimedia exhibition with associated activities, inspired by the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia. Supported by Kulturstyrelsen, the exhibition is one of three in libraries in the Greater Copenhagen area rethinking the library as Det litterære Udstillingshus (the literary exhibition hall; Bibliotekarforbundet), blending literature, art and theatre. The exhibitions are touring the three libraries, with Ulysses, hot from Frederiksberg, next up in Albertslund, and Hamlet from Helsingør arriving over the summer.

from the utopia exhibition in the library

As well as the exhibition the library is offering utopian reading lists for all ages, a newspaper, a sound experience, the diary entries of a refugee fleeing Utopia and holed up in the library, and two events, one offering readings from More’s Utopia accompanied by hurdy gurdy. I particularly enjoyed the musings of the refugee emanating from behind 1970s style radio-cassette players stationed around the library. He had fled Utopia for its lack of diversity, challenge and stimulation – which could lead us on to an examination of Denmark, the world’s happiest country, as Utopia, but for today I’m staying in Albertslund, a rather different Denmark from the current hype.

And there are things going on. Forbrændingen, a music venue in an old incinerator next door to the district heating plant with its iconic 80m high chimneys, is a regional draw. The council is a frontrunner in environmental issues, in particular the use of innovative lighting and smart city solutions. With the ship of the self-sustaining functional city having long since sailed, new connections are coming in the shape of light rail (ETA: 2023), picking up where the 1947 Finger Plan left off with Loop City. And yes, Copenhagen is only 17km and 20 minutes by train away. Albertslundruten, Denmark’s first cycle superhighway, has been speeding people into the city since 2012.

MusikTeatret lends an almost big city feel

Has the confidence and optimism of the 1960s perhaps resulted in a more lasting experience than the more modest projects of the immediate post-war period? Or is it the fact that Albertslund started from a blank sheet, rather than adapting what it already had, the key to its success? If what turns a new town into a town rather than shading into a suburb is innovation, diversity and change, Albertslund rather surprisingly has it, and I would certainly return.

From Albertslundssangen, seen in the underpass by the station:

Du er dagen du er vejen, du er drøm og poesi
du er badesøen som jeg svømmer i når jeg har fri
Du er frihed du er fængsel, du er kærlighed og længsel
du er glædens, du er vredens grund
du er alting Albertslund.

See my Flickr album for more.

Sources and further info: Albertslund får sit navn | Albertslund Syd er kulturarvDet utopiske Albertslund | DOLL Living Lab | Gåaftstand goes City walking in Albertslund | Kroppedal Museum on Albertslund | Sound Settlements: Albertslund Syd | Utopian events: Albertslund: en utopi bliver til & Hvordan ser utopien i Albertslund ud | libraries and the high brow: the exhibitions critiqued

Vestegnens Kulturuge 2015

Third time out! See my posts on 2013 and 2014. This year’s Vestegnens Kulturuge (programme | Facebook), the local arts festival, took place from 4-13 September. Sadly with no Brøndby or Glostrup this year, but with events across six kommuner to the south west of the Copenhagen council area (Hvidovre, Rødovre, Albertslund, Vallensbæk, Ishøj and Høje-Taastrup).


Vestegnensruten: marathon route around six kommuner

It being International Year of Light the festival had the over-arching theme of light art, with a joint project entitled Lys over Vestegnen (Light over Vestegnen) projecting six beams of light, one per kommune, into the sky after dark. The six beams met over Vestegnen as a symbol of their joint effort.

A further joint event saw the Vestegnensruten marathon route relaunched, with starts and a range of activities in each of the six kommuner.

Other than that there was little to tempt outside Hvidovre, with the programme dominated by family friendly activities rather than cultural events. Despite best efforts Vestegnen doesn’t hang together as an area, but remains six separate entities joined by transport corridors.

Three events in Hvidovre of note. Forstadsmuseet’s Poul Sverrild gave a lecture about Avedøre and its contribution to local cultural heritage: “Vi ser dem hver dag som selvfølgelige. Vi ser dem måske i virkeligheden slet ikke. Men de er vores kommende og nuværende kulturarv. Bygningerne og det menneskeskabte landskab. Vores forstad Avedøre, som måske er by – måske land – måske noget helt tredje? Avedøres historie er nemlig noget helt særlig.”

Two events made a stab at realising Hvidovre’s ‘filmby’ branding. Open Air Film saw a film café in Risbjerggård showing archive films about the area and a feature film on the grass outside, while Stage your mind saw the realisation of the Innosite competition on the grass (see article):

 ’Inside the Camera & An Unknown Bird', artwork and seating area in one!

David Musaelyan’s ’Inside the Camera & An Unknown Bird’, artwork and seating area in one!

Vestegnens Kulturuge 2014

Update, Jan 2015: Glostrup will not be participating in this year’s Kulturuge, following Brøndby in leaving the intiative, which they don’t feel has “taken flight”. The event is funded by the members of Vestegnens Kulturinvesteringsråd to the tune of two kroner per head of population, but as a result of Glostrup’s departure this will go up to four kroner per head.

A quick look back at Vestegnens Kulturuge 2014 (Facebook | Regionalavisen coverage), a local festival which took place from 6-14 September, and a good opportunity to pull together some local history about areas we explore on our walks and beyond. More than 150 events hosted by 140 organisations in seven kommuner, some shared with Golden Days. Second time out – see post re 2013 edition,

Vestegnen is the name given to a flexible group of kommuner at the top of the Køge Bugt – see Visit Vestegnen for more. Mainly suburbs built on villages/landsbyer (there are usually some traces) after WW2 to provide housing for the burgeoning population, now with a 19% invandrer population. No fairytale towers or harbour baths here. Putting all the kommuner together gives you a population of over 250k, perhaps in a better position to offer services and cultural support akin to that in Copenhagen ‘proper’. Maybe more joint initiatives could make for a more dynamic area able to attract investment and undertake some creative redevelopment.

The programme for the week was available via Issuu or Kultunaut, hele Danmarks event calendar, with search, display by day or on a map. A lot of the events were child/family oriented, but the following had some appeal.

Avedøre and Hvidøre

Denmark’s oldest airfield (photo: 1001 Fortællinger)

Sunday saw the biennial family oriented Aeronautisk Dag at Avedøre Flyveplads (Facebook | Forstadsmuseet). Tucked away between Brøndby Havn and a motorway is Denmark’s oldest airfield, dating from 1917. It was used by the Danske Luftfartsselskab for test flights in the 1920s, and by the Nazis to test motors from 1943. Best story: a US B17 made a emergency landing nearby in 1943, thinking they had made it to neutral Sweden.

Closed in 1945, the airfield was used as a store by the military and Hvidovre highways dept, but reopened in 2001, thanks largely to the support of enthusiasts, with a limited number of flights permitted each year.

As well as a grassy runway the site consists of two red hangars from 1917, listed in 1986, constructed in timber so they could be burned down in the event of war, and a 100m long engine testing facility from 1943, made up of a row of 10 interconnected testing halls. The biennial display includes vintage planes and cars, hot air balloons, kites. It’s also a nice area for a walk.

2014-09-05 14.45.00

Stjernestøv: en stedsans/Stardust: a sense of locality on Hvidovre Torv

Less successful is Hvidovre Torv, a surviving part of the original village opposite the old church, one of those public spaces which hasn’t really worked. Frequent articles in the local paper bemoan the lack of life and ambition on the square, with this week the news that five of its 10 chestnut trees have succombed to kastanieminermøl and are to be felled. I tend to the sceptical about the urge to fell, but in this case the trees are to be replaced with “large” tulipantræer, and the gravel which teenagers persist in throwing into the fountain, blocking it from doing its thing, is to be replaced with shrubbery. Hurrah!

During the festival the square was transformed into a Norse mythology inspired art installation (review) by Karoline H Larsen in conjunction with Hvidovre Produktionsskole, who brightened up the nearby shopping centre with Fra Ingenmandsland til Allemandsliv last year. There was also Mobil Lyd, a pop-up musical something or other from Yes DR Far, and folk dancing. (Shudders. One day I’ll work out what Danish folk dancing is about.)

In the shopping centre itself pupils from Langhøjskolen and artists Cold & Butt (it’s their names…) mounted Save the Apple, an installation “questioning the way we as a society perceive packaging and food waste”, ie making apple juice and pancakes. There’s a video, showing off the increasingly forlorn shopping centre.

Albertslund and Vallensbæk

Opstandelseskirken, Albertslund (photo: Ib Rasmussen)

Opstandelseskirken, Albertslund (photo: Ib Rasmussen)

Slightly further afield is Albertslund, an area which doesn’t have the best of reputations but makes the most of what it’s got. Named after a French count who fled to Denmark in 1802, most of the area was laid out in the 1960s in best modernist style, with the population growing from 3000 to 30,000 over a period of eight years. Inspired by the Garden City Movement (again) it’s strictly zoned and emphatically low density, made up of terraced houses and a network of separate roads and bike/pedestrian paths. Another feature is the canal quarter, which aims to make an attraction out of the drainage system.

Moving swiftly on from Har du lys til at vandre? (a play on ‘Fancy a walk?’ and ‘Got a light?’, involving a bonfire, warm soup and goodnight stories) from the local library, Kroppedal Museum offered På tur gennem Albertslunds historie, a walk through the area’s cultural heritage, from Opstandelseskirken (church, 1984) to the rather older Statsfængsel (state prison, 1859). There was also a guided tour of Skulpturbank Hyldespjældet, a sculpture gallery in an area of public housing. It seems that sculptors park their work at Hyldespjældet until it is sold or sent to an exhibition, how about that?

Other arty things on during the week included Streetart with William Hjort (the brains behind Roskilde Festival Graffiti) on the viaduct between Vallensbæk Sø and ditto Mose on the Køge Bugt motorway to the south of Albertslund; same kommune but two motorways away from DIAS (Facebook), Vallensbæk’s digital arts gallery, which offered Sound Treasures and video workshops, culminating in a Videoextravaganza and lounge on Saturday. DIAS receives support from the Danish Art Fund and DSB, an interesting initiative all round.

street, Albertslund (photo: Gåafstand)

street, Albertslund (photo: Gåafstand)

Revisiting a 1968 dérive undertaken by a group of artists in Albertslund walking group Gåafstand wrote in 2010: “[the] lack of horizon makes one feel a bit disoriented and can cause a loss of sense of direction”. Certainly the streets tend to be empty and devoid of much life, but could expansion and renewal be an alternative solution to the prevailing redevelopment rhetoric of stacked egg boxes with minimal space to breath? An issue though is that these developments were built quickly with little attention to quality, meaning that at a time of low house prices it’s often cheaper to pull individual houses down than renovate them.

On the beach

More art if less walking from Copenhagen Art Run (Facebook | preview | coverage; oi Copenhagen, get yer own art run), a 5km run (walking also permitted, mind) for body, soul and all the senses, held along the beach at modern art gallery Arken in Ishøj. Artists are invited to submit works for display or to entertain along the route, and the race is not timed.

The beach in question is the 7.2 km long Køge Bugt Strandpark, stretching from Avedøre Holme to Hundige Strand, a wholly artificial construction complemented by four small marinas and six salt water lakes. The idea for the beach was first mooted in the 1930s but did not become a reality until 1980, after 5 million km2 of sand had been pumped out of the sea bed. This stretch of coast is a mixture of suburban overspill, summer houses and caravan sites, a legacy of the feriekolonier set up for residents of inner city Copenhagen, who followed the road from Valby to Køge by rutebil/omnibus or bicycle during the summer holidays.


on yer bike! (photo: Forstadsmuseet)

This period was celebrated in Sommerliv langs Gammel Køge Landevej, a bike ride led by Forstadsmuseet’s Lisbeth Hollensen from the site of Flaskekroen at Åmarken Station, one of a series of former roadside inns, to Brøndby Strandhotel. The road (Køgevejen), laid in the 1720s and running from Valby to Køge, is now synonymous with car traffic, with the Køge bus discontinued a couple of years ago.

Telling local histories

The local museums and archives do a great job of preserving Vestegnen’s history, which is also kept alive through the revived tradition of oral storytelling. Vestegnens Fortællerkreds held its annual festival on the last night of Kulturuge, and Hvidovre libraries is offering Hvidovre FortælleLab, a free course, over the autumn.

Kierkegaard 2013: Copenhagen and the walks

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. – Kierkegaard

Updates: Kierkegaard gårpavement quotesSøren Kierkegaard in CPH |CPH Post |In the tidy city of the world’s most anxious man | smartphone byvandringbest map

In The old ways Robert Macfarlane muses that Kierkegaard “speculated that the mind might function optimally at the pedestrian pace of three miles [sic] per hour and…going out for a wander and finding himself ‘so overwhelmed with ideas’ that he ‘could scarcely walk’.”

It’s 200 years since the birth of Kierkegaard and there’s acres of stuff about him. It’s turning into the Danish equivalent of walking challenges. Here’s my Kierkegaard 2013:

In Wanderlust Rebecca Solnit describes Kierkegaard’s walking as (p24):

a way to bask in the faint human warmth of brief encounters, acquaintances’ greetings, and overheard conversations. A lone walker is both present and detached from the world around, more than an audience but less than a participant. Walking assuages or legitimizes this alientation: one is mildly disconnected because one is walking, not because one is incapable of connecting.

MORE pp23-26. See journals, esp Steps on life’s way.

Ace quote p200: Kierkegaard, were he less prolific and less Danish, might be the best candidate for a real life flaneur.

Byvandring/guided walks, many as part of Golden Days in September:

Kierkegaard and Copenhagen

Visit Copenhagen’s Kierkegaard page has a map with some key locations. Discovered from this that the Design Museum formerly housed the hospital where Kierkegaard died.

UCL Scandinavian Studies held an event on Kierkegaard, the uncanny and Nordic noir on 17 May, looking at unsettling Copenhagen in philosophical writing and contemporary drama. Some interesting sounding papers – see programme for more:

  • Svend Erik Larsen (University of Aarhus) on Wonderful Copenhagen: dirt and darkness (CPH’s Golden Age)
  • Hugh Pyper (University of Sheffield) – Not at home: Kierkegaard and the uncanny poetics of encounter
  • Claire Thomson (UCL Scandinavian Studies) – #copenmap: hidden data histories of Copenhagen; sadly can’t trace this, but incorporated a range of data and media, including a survey of the public’s favourite CPH sights and sites, trajectories of cyclists and sewage, the Thorvaldsen sculpture trail, Dan Turèll’s literary map of Vesterbro and HC Andersen’s Fodreise fra Holmens Kanal til Østpynten af Amager
  • Henriette Steiner (ETH Zurich) – Golden days and dark nights: Langebro as an unsettling place in Copenhagen
  • Gunhild Agger (Aalborg University) – The Killing: urban topographies of a crime
  • Bo Tao Michaëlis (Politiken) – Copenhagen after dark

Here’s my Kierkegaard footprint, taken from my posts on the Kierkegaard MOOC I participated in October – December 2013:


Vestegnens Kulturuge

Another festival! Vestegnens Kulturuge, with the theme of rum til bevægelse, took place from 7-15 September for the first time. Vestegnen is the name given to seven kommuner at the top of the Køge Bugt, including Hvidovre. Developed after the war to give space for the burgeoning population. Think finger plans, concrete, urban, etc.

Programme available via Kultunaut, DK’s monolithic event calendar, with search, display by day or on a map, although I picked up a copy from the library, easiest way to get an overview. Website could generally be more social, although is on Facebook, and less drear.

Here’s some events of interest:

  • rullende S-togs foredrag – Lisbeth Hollensen of Forstadsmuseet via loudspeaker on the A line towards Hundige (not on web programme)
  • byvandring in Avedøre Stationsby – planned in the 1970s with inspiration from medieval Dubrovik (!), today a symbol of modernism’s bomaskiner, life from cradle to grave (offered fairly frequently by Forstadsmuseet)
  • Fra ingenmandsland til allemandsliv | Facebook – installation at a horrendous bit of concrete at Hvidovrevejs Butikstorv from Hvidovre Produktionsskole and artist Karoline H Larsen, good effort if not for me (involves mime), but the ‘makeover’ will stay until 17 November so will swing by at some point (bit far and boring for a standard dog walk)
  • assorted events in Ejbybunkeren and Vestvolden, part of Københavns Befæstning (child oriented)
  • ditto at Arbejderbevægelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv in Taastrup
  • ditto at Kroppedal Museum in Høje Taastrup, mainly at the Blaakildegaard local history bit, which brings us on to…

Vestegnens Fortællerkreds Festival:

  • group of storytellers, set up in January when four libraries held a storytelling evening, leading to a series of six workshops led by Carsten Islington and Nanna Rohweder (Taastrup libs)
  • 20 storytellers in the circle (Facebook), now a forening (why?), membership costs DK 100 per year; members inc Charlotte Løvenhardt (formand), Freddy August Østbygaard (kasserer), Tue Boje Folden (bestyrelsesmedlem), Leif Loll Jørgensen (suppleant), Inge Beck (suppleant), Annette Skov Friis, Jimmy Stahr
  • 15 taking part in festival on 15 September

the seven kulturuge kommuner