Wa(l)king Copenhagen 31 May-9 June – reflections and videos

31 May: Dancer Marlene Bonnesen
1 June: Writer & singer Lars Emil Foder
2 June: Visual artist Arendse Krabbe
3 June: Musician & composer Randi Pontoppidan
4 June: Concept and performance artist Mette Kit Jensen
5 June: Playwright & director Rhea Leman
6 June: Visual artist Nermin Durakovic
7 June: Circus artist Villads Bugge Bang
8 June: Visual artist Nanna Debois Buhl
9 June: Dancer & choreographer Kitt Johnson


In search of being together 

In Danish, the term “ind-vandrer” translates as “in wanderer”. This not only fits Wa(l)king Copenhagen, but many of the 170,000 refugees who have ended up in Denmark since 1956 – this collective wandering away from one place to another.

The sense of continually searching and being in-between is strongly felt in Nermin Durakovic’s minimalist filmed walk from Copenhagen’s Town Hall Square towards “the north” as a symbolic act through a dramatic sunset-nighttime-sunrise. His precise commentary, reflective and critical, on the state of being in-between in no-man’s land, gave us a sense of existential walking for survival.

On Grundlovsdag – Constitution Day – we met up with Rhea Leman, who celebrated her first Constitution Day as a naturalised Danish citizen after living here for some 40 years. In the midst of the #blacklivesmatter revolt, it was a particularly well-chosen day to focus on freedom and democracy. We met a gallery of Rhea’s friends and personalities, all reflecting on the state of democracy and sharing their personal stories and concerns.


Enactments in places and people in transition

Choreographer Kitt Johnson’s repetitive act of lymphatic tai chi-inspired exercise took us all to the floor in the first morning session. The ritual was repeated on 12 chosen and needy sites in the city to the wonder of by-passers. The final ritual at the remote Stejlepladsen in Sydhavn’s harbor, which is threatened with yet another giant step for gentrification and a small step for mankind, was a joyful act where she invited us to celebrate being able to gather together again and to use our collective energy. An utterly simple, convincing and peaceful lymphatic exercise to energize and balance ourselves and the world.

At the other end of the harbour, vocalist and composer Randi Pontoppidan gave us a glimpse of disappearing and reappearing landscapes in a somewhat brutal dystopic place – but actually finding a series of hugely inspiring idyllic plots between graffiti and grazing, baying sheep and some amazing vistas and exotic chambers, which she activated with her wonderful guttural and operatic vocals. Giving a sign of the future city, life was hopeful, offering some counterpoints.

Dancer Marlene Bonnesen took us on choreographed walks and rambles in anonymous post-industrial landscapes and huge open spaces ideal for playing with “social distancing” and choreography extending the every-day.


Nature as culture

Arendse Krabbe went searching for the Nightingale and led us once again out of the city. We were indeed in a “waking Copenhagen” mode led by waking birds in the silent woods and marshes of Pinseskoven, Amager, waiting for the dawn. Magically, Arendse found the Nightingale.

Nanna Debois Buhl’s silent gazing at the sky was filled with cumulous clouds offering us endless changing cloudscapes in which we could lose ourselves and wonder about connectivity and interdependency and the commons of the climate – or find endless hidden states of being and narratives as we do. Look up, for goodness’ sake.


Walking as social commentary 

Villads Bugge Bang managed to combine his flair for theatrical absurdism and object manipulation. With clear social commentary, he pulled his shopping trolley through numerous wastelands and tips, collecting seemingly useless articles and finally using them as props for his makeshift opening performance of a post coronavirus lock-down on The Black Square at midnight – a sense of refreshing, poetic comic relief beautifully executed with the heart in the right place.

Writer and singer Lars Emil Foder literally translated the hourly bulletins into non-news flashes in best absurdist situations and nonsensical speak. It was, however, thoroughly dramatised in its mirroring and mimicking of main-stream and live-stream breaking news – and a wonderful tribute to the spirit of Dan Turèll as we were embedded in Vesterbro.

Conceptual artist Mette Kit Jensen has worked for many years with her strongly defined embedded acts of commentary. As she followed the new metro line overground, her social encounters at each station were full of the sense of now. Perhaps a fitting perspective was made by the two Somalian boys who said dogmatically that the most important thing for Mette to write down was “diversity”. More fitting it could not be.


The diary continues until 8 August with a new artist each day.

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31 May: Marlene Bonnesen

1 June: Lars Emil Foder

2 June: Arendse Krabbe

3 June: Randi Pontoppidan

4 June: Mette Kit Jensen

5 June: Rhea Leman

6 June: Nermin Durakovic

7 June: Villads Bugge Bang

8 June: Nanna Debois Buhl

9 June: Kitt Johnson