METROPOLIS – PERFORMANCE AND ART IN URBAN SPACE

Metropolis is a meeting point for performance, art and the city – an art-based metropolitan laboratory for the performative, site-specific, international art. It is Københavns Internationale Teater (KIT) that is behind Metropolis as the latest of a large number of festivals and projects in Copenhagen created and initiated by KIT.

Metropolis presents a summer season with performances and interventions in urban space as well as ongoing development activities for artists and professionals. 

Metropolis investigates, processes and interprets the modern metropolis. We work with live art in cross-aesthetic formats, seeking new expressions and creating new connections between the artistic, the social and the urban.

Metropolis is in, for and with the city. Our space is the city space. We work to unravel the distance between art and reality by placing art in the midst of everyday life. We see art as an essential community-developing element, and through Metropolis, artists can engage with the city and its people, relate to the present and help create a future.

Metropolis started in 2007 as a bienniale and a laboratory. Since 2017, Metropolis’ core activity has expanded to an annual summer season with performing arts in public space. At the same time, Metropolis is involved in artistic development through our Laboratories, residencies and international collaborations. And Metropolis is the involvement of a.o. citizens through projects such as 100%.

Read more below.

In the archive you can find more information about previous seasons, festivals and laboratories.

BODIES IN URBAN SPACES by Cie Willi Dorner (Metropolis 2011 & 2017) – photo: Maja Nydal Eriksen

METROPOLIS SUMMER SEASON

Every summer between May and September, Metropolis presents the performances and works of some of Europe’s most interesting, current and innovative artists. They create or adapt works for Copenhagen, which take us to new places, which make us experience familiar places as for the first time, and which make us discover new aspects and dimensions of our city.

The artists stage everyday life. They work on buildings, squares and roads. They work with local citizens. They create temporary, mobile spaces. They invite us for explorations on the outskirts of the city. They tell new stories about the city’s diversity. They test new formats and media – always with the big city as subject, object and framework.

Since 2007, Metropolis has been held eight times with approx. 80 location-based productions with a total of 300 performances played in 50 different locations in Copenhagen for more than 200,000 spectators.

CECI N’EST PAS… by Dries Verhoeven (Metropolis 2015) – photo: Maja Nydal Eriksen

METROPOLIS AS URBAN LABORATORY

Metropolis is one of the recognized European landmarks for people dealing with art that crosses professional boundaries and engages with the city. Metropolis launches teaching projects as a contribution to the development of performative art, site-specific art, and the role of art in the urban context. Metropolis contributes to creating greater knowledge and awareness of artistic and performative work in public space, focusing on new aesthetics, new concepts and new practices.

Metropolis Laboratory
Since 2007, every two years, we have organized the Metropolis Laboratory and the Nordic Urban Lab as a knowledge platform that deals with art in public space, site-specific theatre/performance and cultural urban development. Metropolis Lab is a forum for sharing knowledge as well as collaborating and developing projects across professional boundaries, habits and prejudices. The goal is that the arts and artists can enrich us with new visions for the future and that their work will eventually become an integral part of the development that will characterize urban space and urban identity of the future.

The Metropolis Lab was held in Copenhagen in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 2014, 2016 and 2018, it was held under the heading Nordic Urban Lab in Copenhagen, Gothenburg/Borås and Helsinki respectively. The next edition is in Athens in May 2020. The project is also the starting point for three conferences during UrbCulturalPlanning in Kiel 2019, Gdansk 2020 and Riga 2021.

Metropolis Residencies
2018-2021, Metropolis has been selected as a national residency centre by the Danish Arts Foundation. Metropolis Residencies is our research programme for artists working in public space. Every summer, we invite a group of international and Danish artists to work for a month in Copenhagen to develop site-specific projects and practices. Each year, we invite 15 artists divided into three residencies of each one month’s duration.

International networks and collaborative projects
Metropolis is a partner in the EU-supported platform for art in public space, In Situ, where we co-produce and collaborate with 20 theatres/festivals in Europe and create development opportunities for the site-specific art. In Situ has pioneered the promotion of knowledge, artistic productions and dissemination of site-based art. The EU’s cultural programmes have continuously supported the network.

Metropolis has been an inspiration for the EU Interreg-supported development project UrbCulturalPlanning 2019-20, which implements cultural urban development as a method for developing urban areas in a cities around the Baltic: Kiel, Gdansk, Vilnius, Riga, Pori and Nykøbing Falster.

Read more about Metropolis’ activities as Urban Laboratory here.

COLÉOMUR by Compagnie 9.81 on VM Bjerget (Metropolis 2009) – photo: Torben Huss

WHAT THE PRESS SAYS ABOUT METROPOLIS …

Politiken 8 July 2019: “The art only gets better when you tramp around in it”
“Artistic laboratories like Metropolis get us lured out on walks through city and countryside with ear-phones and integrated performances and allow us to observe the city with fresh eyes… As part of their artistic projects in urban space since 2007, Metropolis has been a strong force in getting the performance walk embedded in this country. Memorable examples are e.g. hello!earth, which in ‘The Invisible Reality Show’ sent participants, wearing a rabbit costume, down Vesterbrogade, or Kamchatka, who in ‘Fugit’ sent us as illegal refugees fleeing through the backyards of Vesterbro… May the audience continue to wander in the theatre and walk around the performances. That kind of art only gets better the more you trample around it.”

Politiken 30 August 2015: “This is not a festival – it is a boost”
“This is not art,” was Dries Verhoeven’s teasing opening salute in the glass box. As Metropolis unfolds, it is not only on the boundary between performing arts, installation, street theatre, concert and sound art, but also on the boundary between urban walking, playground and activist intervention. What matters is not what it is, but what it does to the city and its residents – and to the performing arts, being free to do anything out of just experimental playfulness. The season’s releasing and liberating break, with both hits and misses. Thus, over the years, Metropolis has also put extra emphasis on new forms and formats such as urban space theatre, walking performances, interactions and cross-disciplinary activities.”

Weekendavisen 30 August 2013: “To see the city for just people”
“The city is the central figure of this festival for performance, installation art, new theatre and new circus – all things that a lot of people love to hate as the epitome of posh and incomprehensible art. Do you know a person like that, then it is precisely at the Metropolis festival that they must be exposed to and experience how these often controversial arts can move and enchant when used skillfully… Because, when Metropolis is at its best, it is excellent, and probably no other festival can move its audience to the same degree and make them ponder over the nature of the metropolitan community.”

Politiken 31 August 2013 “7,000 concrete blocks pave the way”
“There is a tedious tendency to regard festivals as a non-committal beach holiday, a small international breath of fresh air which has nothing to do with institutionalized Danish theatre life. But it is not a matter of two separate worlds. They are part of the same movement: the development of the performing arts. Then one questions and wonders why the theatre people do not, like the audience in general, come flocking. The innovation department is not the most striking part of the theatre landscape at the moment… The big benefit of the Metropolis Biennale is that, since it began in 2007, it has consistently and ambitiously pushed the limits of what theatre can be – and not least of what the city is all about and who we are us people walking around in it.”

BLIND SPOT by Jay Pather (Metropolis 2009) – photo: Torben Huss


KØBENHAVNS INTERNATIONALE TEATER

Metropolis is organised by Københavns Internationale Teater (KIT), which has been the primary force behind international, cross-disciplinary performing arts in Denmark since 1980 with festivals, seminars, workshops and residencies. Københavns Internationale Teater has organized the legendary Fools festivals, Japan on Stage, The British are Coming, Dancin’ City, Images of Africa, Sommerscene, Dancin’ World, Ny Cirkus Festival, etc.

Read more about Københavns Internationale Teater here.

LA TRANSHUMANTE by Johann Le Guillerm (Metropolis 2017) – photo: Maja Nydal Eriksen


PUBLICATIONS

Changing Metropolis
Artists, architects, academics, etc., who participated in the Festival and Laboratory 2007-15, delve into topics raised through Metropolis. You find articles written by architects and city planners who work with cultural planning and temporariness; by artists who confront and expand possibilities and limitations in the city; by academics contextualizing urban artistic practices. You also find a variety of photos from Metropolis’ artistic encounters with Copenhagen.

Changing Metropolis I (2007-2008) – download here
Changing Metropolis II (2008-2011) – read here
Changing Metropolis III (2012-2015) – read here

LysLyd – i krydsfeltet mellem kunst, byudvikling og innovation – read here

Are you interested in buying a printed version of a Metropolis publication? Please send an email to info@kit.dk.

THE VOYAGES by Compagnie XY (Metropolis 2019) – photo: Samuel Buton

Metropolis is supported by The City of Copenhagen and The Danish Arts Foundation