IMAGES FESTIVAL_ OCCUPY UTOPIA
KØBENHAVN CITY CENTRE – DRONNING LOUISES BRO – NØRREBRO
At the end of this summer (30th August – 7th September) the Queen Louise’s Bridge in Copenhagen became a meeting point for contemporary artist and citizens from different developing countries which mixes one of the most multiethnic area of the city with the center.
LOCATION AND HISTORY
Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge) is the bridge in the middle of The Lakes in Copenhagen, it crosses the Peblingesø ( The Learners Lake ) and Sortedamssø ( Black Pond Lake ).
The bridge was designed by the Danish architect Vilhelm Dahlerup, and constructed between 1885 and 1887. This bridge connected the city with a new urban area in the northwest side of the lakes Nørrebro, which was growing up by workers and becoming an important part of Copenhagen.
Nowadays Nørrebro has an area of 3.82 km² and a population of 71,89. It is known for its poly-cultural and dynamic society, it is inhabited by people from all parts of the world.
The largest minority groups of people living in Nørrebro are Arabs, Turks, Pakistanis, Bosnians, Somalians, Albanians and many more. This multiethnic space makes the different with the rest of the city.
In this district have taken placed the most important riots of the history of Copenhagen and it is usually the place for most of the demonstrations. Most of them have a very violent attitude, so it doesn’t have a very good fame if we talk about security aspects.
In the other hand the City Centre uses to be very peaceful and the citizen who has the opportunity to life in this area has a quite higher standard of living compared with Nørrebro.
THE CONNECTION ELEMENT
These two different urban areas are connected by the bridge previously mentioned. It is 175 meters long and 25 meters width in its narrowest part but in both entrance it can reach up 100 meters, the totally area is about 10000 m2 but roadway and bike path are around 1800 m2. This bridge divide in 6 parts, two roadways, two bike lines and two sidewalks and that is the order of their widths, the smallest one is the part for cars. These dimensions have a clear explanation if you know the data flows:This bridge is the busiest bicycle lane in The World with 36.000 cyclists per day. And they wanted to increase the amount of pedestrians so they placed more benches and reduced the traffic 60 % less in 2012 so way in the bridge was quieter and relax.
MAJORITY SOCIAL GROUP
Usually the bridge is occupied by group of young people that after class or work goes there to have a drink (beer), which was bought before in some supermarket, if the weather allows them to stay longer outside. This is one of the activities that you can find in several tourist guides.
But the culture in that kind of cities is different to here where people don’t enjoy the public spaces as there, even if our weather is better.
“Occupy Denmark with arts and create utopias through arts!”
This is the invitation that The Centre for Culture and Development send to hundred of artists all over the world to participate in the project of IMAGES FESTIVAL who this year would take the name of OCCUPY UTOPY.
The festival activities will play out in three different sites in three cities, in Godsbanen in Aarhus and in a fun fair in Aalborg.
The third city is Copenhagen, and I have been asking some questions to the project manager of the festival:
– Did you think about any other public spaces to place the festival before the bridge?
“Yes we did, at first we wanted to place it in the court of our parliament as we thought it would be a meaningful place to Occupy with artists from some of the poorest countries in the world. But in the end it was not possible.”
– Did you find any problem with the chosen place?
“Lots of problems, but the City Council were very positive and helped by redirecting public busses and get permissions from police, and fire department and so on…”1
Copenhagen city hall has a really smart application in its website where you can chose several public spaces around the city to use it for yourself, just paying attention of some understandable rules about noise, and the profits of the action.
The Centre for Culture and Development (CKU) believes that art and creativity are central parameters for sustainable human and social development. And they think that are determining factors for democracy, human rights and economic growth.
“We therefore work to help strengthen a vital, free and inclusive cultural life in developing countries and broaden their knowledge of art and culture’s pivotal roles in the Danish society.”2
As we heard from the project manager, the City Council was taking part of this project to control the security for the citizens, and of course he is the one who has to give the permissions for new uses in public spaces as we read before.
The necessary money for the project was provided by some sponsors, some of those where institutional associations, as Københavns Kommune, Statens Kunstfond. Also the money is coming from partners, commercial brands or school who wants to be part of the idea, we have some examples as Canon, HP, KEA University, Moesgard Museum…
The are some media partners which were charge on transmit the process to the news and take part of the publicity in streets, radios, tv and all the new internet media net. They also have the task of projections, visual effect and everything about the communication with the rest.
The design of the physical aspects of the festival comes from the project manager of CKU as main responsible of the project and an architect from Arkitektur Vaerkstedet, but just as consultant.
And also some students of Bachelor of Architectural Technology and Construction Management (BATCM) at KEA had been designing and constructing floating islands for the cultural art festival.
The making off was carried out by volunteers in different areas of work: as images-host, core person, exhibition designers, and with more responsibility as stage-hands.
It is important to remark the structure as part of the agents that we are talking about. The bridge as itself was not enough to host the festival so a metal and wooden temporary structure was built along the southern side of the bridge like several shipping containers. This structure was connected with the other side of the bridge in its half part creating a corridor over the roadway. The roof of the structure was designed as a big terrace where people could sit and hang out with the beautiful views of the lake and the city.
347 artists from 44 different developing countries were the main characters of the festival. Film directors, dancers, musicians, actors, photographers and performance and visual artists will occupy Denmark with arts that will challenge the images and create new visions for a better world. To explore what UTOPIA looks, sounds and smells like when a unique diversity of world famous artists from several African, Latin American and European countries get together.
And of course another important agent is the citizen and the tourist are able to participate in an active or passive way and would enjoy the festival and open their minds for all the information that the festival wants to transmit.
The last agents will be the traffic of cars, busses and bikes.
Now we now all the agents who intervene on the festival we will see what was the process:
The structure of the festival was placed on the bike lane so the bikes were going for three weeks in the same way as other vehicles but this is not a big deal because the bike culture is very old in this country and cars are use to cyclist. The fast traffic was blocked for some hours just in case the festival need the biggest scenario as it was late at the evening it didn’t stop the important axis of communication at high time. The council city also redirected the busses lines away from the bridge due to the height of the structure that it was built. The bikes had the privilege of goes by the bridge whenever they wanted but there were some security volunteers controlling the traffic of those just to not get too chaotic.
The entire project is bases on low cost actions. That is why the sculpture is made out of reusable scaffolding elements that cost around 33.500 €. The costs of the festival like the facilities for the artists, the transportations or the publicity were handled by CKU and the Sponsors, the city council gave 13.400 € for all the project, but it is important knowing that in this kind of relevant festivals the sponsors are quite generous.
As low cost project the festival couldn’t be thinkable without an ecology philosophy. For this reason many of the artists invited to the festival were specialist in this topic. To know some example Little Sun is an innovative way to get clean, affordable light to the 1.6 billion people worldwide without access to the electrical grid. In the same point there were some ecological kitchens and workshops.
As we saw the bridge is enjoyed by young generations and tourists, but OCCUPY UTOPIA is trying to invited all the cultures and generations to enjoy not only the bridge but also themselves. The festival has free entrance due to it is in a public space and the structure works as that, the festival is divided in different groups or interests with social public workshops open lunch times and playgrounds.
“The key to the visual identity and communication, it should at once be ultra modern, hurt a little and like to get the comfortable Danes on their feet” says Svante Lindburg, head of the strategy department.
“The triangle in the logo gets a visual framework for the festival. A festival that can accommodate numerous utopias. At the same time the robust and sturdy style reminiscent of street art using stencils, so the term gets nervous” complements Peter Folkmar, graphic designer.
Since 1991 several thousand artists from more than 60 countries in Africa, Latin America, The Middle East and Asia have presented their art-works at one of the largest festivals of international contemporary arts and culture in Denmark.
“We believe that they through films, photography, literature, dance, theatre, music and other arts will inspire the Danish audience as well as each other and come up with visions for a better world.”3
I can perfectly imagine this project anywhere, in our roundabout with a structure to connect the pedestrian path and goes up the tram, hundreds of people pass by that place, everyday and it is an important axis if the city who probably no everybody knows, this is a huge different with the reference I have found but in our case roundabouts are also a meeting point for people when they want to be visible for the most possible places.
A festival about the culture that nowadays is being more common in our city, to know who is living with us and what we can learn from them.
Cheap and easy project which only needs good volunteers, open minds and be ready to provide yourself with new knowledge that can make you develop yourself and change a little your city.
– PERSONAL EXPERIENCE MªAngeles Reinares San Martín
– MAIL INTERVIEW: Mikkel Harder Munck-Hansen (1967) is a Danish actor and director, project manager of IMAGES FESTIVAL.
– DOCUMENTS: Bylivsregnskab (Urban Count Flows) from Danish student of KEA.