Sunday, September 28, 2008


Maria, that is her name. She came to Norway and Denmark around 1747 or a little before with a missionary Mr. Sylo. She was painted by Mathias Blumenthal a few years after her death and then again 5 years later. She died on her way back to Greenland in Bergren, Norway, which was part of Denmark at the time.

One painting is hanging in the National Museum in Københagen and the other is owned by an unknown Swedish man. Nivisarsiaq means 'young girl' in Greenlandic.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Itivdlersuak- the long crossing

The Nordic Art Fair 2008 at the Forum, Saturday Sept 20

Everyday I go to the Institute and it is becoming a second 'home'. I feel very welcomed there and am amazed at the amount of knowledge crushed into such a small building! Bent Nielson, the Director, returned from Greenland on Monday and we had dinner that evening to discuss my research at the Institute. It was a really positive conversation and he is totally onboard with trying to get the archive 'awakened' and utilized in a non-traditional way: To display its value differently than mentioning something from it in a lecture or ph.d thesis. He has his own visions for where he wants to take the Institute and it was great to hear that I can contribute in a small way to that.

So now I am concentrating on 2 projects, and both are in their infancy stage and will be totally different than what I had imagined in the end. The first is a photo+text project about the actual archive and documents-drawings-photographs, etc, within it, mixed with the history of the Institute. The text will be addressing the various things that I choose to highlight but will be not exactly 'museum text panel'. Rather more experimental or creative writing of some sort. Also I want to try to utilize the people involved by short interviews such as Bent, and also Leif, the former director, and Mette, the archivist and whoever else I can drag into my evil plan.

The second project I am still formulating but as of now it will be a photographic series about a Greenlandic girl who finds herself in Copenhagen, lost, and encountering the city. It will combine the past and the present tense. She will go through the stages of an explorer in experiencing the 'sublime'. It is a different sort of 'sublime' that the polar explorers experienced in the Arctic but similar in its stages of struggle, fear, and overcoming obstacles. We'll see! I am still writing up the pre-story for it and reading various texts to try to find my girl character and if she already exists in the archive somewhere, which would be fantastic! In 1724, Hans Egede, a Danish-Norwegian missionary in Greenland brought two Greenlanders, Poq and Qiperoq, to Copenhagen. They performed in their kayaks for crowds in the canals and were given very nice contemporary haircuts. The Institute has 2 portraits of them and there is also one hanging in the National Museum in Copenhagen. But I have not found any women, yet.

I also have been learning about Greenlandic place names and their English and Danish translations. I will be using these, too, to inspire and influence the various photographs I take around Copenhagen. Names such as 'Akalua' = that which is between 2 things, or 'Alativik'= where there is disturbance in the water, or 'Perserautoq' = one that continually drifts, or 'Malartarfik'= where the head is generally bent back. I am really excited over the list I have gathered. They are really beautiful phrases that are really rich in meaning. They have a lot of potential for transforming an image and vice versa.

This is my street- Hollænderdybet in Amager. It is actually way nicer in real life than what this photo presents...

The main street-Amagerbrogade that my street is connected to. You can follow it straight into center city København though it changes names 3 or 4 times.

Today I visited a friend who I met through my roommate, Pia, last week at our scary-movie-monday party. Julia works in the public affairs department in the U.S. embassy. She gave me a small tour of the drab grey building. We ate in their cantina which is totally a restaurant with a professional chef and wine.... She also took me down into their American grocery store! It was completely absurd! They had really bad t.v. dinners and things like toilet paper and paper towels! All things that you can find in Danish grocery stores! But they did have duncan hines cake mix and Jiffy brand peanut butter which you can't get here. (I brought my own HUGE jar of my favorite peanut butter with me, it is sad.) And I guess I should also point out the Dr. pepper. It is mainly for the husbands or wives of the Americans who work there who miss these items, or, perhaps are nervous (?) to venture out in the a ssscccarrrryyy Danish grocery store... I don't know. They didn't have Lucky Charms, though, and even center-city Accra, Ghana, at the nice grocery store they sold them when I lived there is 2003! Well, sold them for the equivalent of 15 bucks!

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the Nordatlantens Bryggen has an anniversary exhibition about the Danmark-Ekspeditionen 1906-1908. Leif, the former Arctic Institute's director, and I walked over there last week to see it. It was the expedition that surveyed the final stretch of Grønland- the northeast section- and where 3 men died. I just finished reading the book written by Ejnar Mikkelson, the man who went back up to northeast Greenland to find the bodies and diaries of the missing 3 men. He and his partner ended up wintering over 2 years in a row and barely made it out alive themselves! It was a great book! Like any polar narrative, it is filled with near survivals, dying dogs, hunger and fatigue, and weather reports.

During this expedition, they did all kinds of scientific studies and collected many specimens.

The Danish artist Achton Friis was also along and did many wonderful landscape paintings, drawings, portraits of each of the men, and watercolors. This photograph is part of the Arctic Institute's photographic collection. They also have the actual painting of the ship that he is making!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

plants and paintings

On Thursday I got a full tour of the building that the Institute is housed in. Mette, who was back from a conference, showed me around and told me more stories and historical facts than I could write down! We went up into the archives and she spent some time showing me a few little drawings and watercolors done by a few people.

After, I joined Leif (pro. Life), the old director of the Institute who holds an honorary seat of course, at the Noratlantens Brygge, the building next to us that houses the Icelandic embassy, and representatives of Faoa Islands and Grønland. They have a show up commemorating the 100 years since the Danmark Ekspeditionen closed the gap in Northeast Grønland in 1906-08 and finished the circumference of Grønland. Three men died on this expedition. I will post some photos later of the show.

We also went on board a schooner that just got back from retracing the Expeditions route! It showed up on Wednesday barked outside the Institute and we got a small tour of the berths, a shot of Cuban rum, and talked for a while with the Captain. Leif had just met him and they are planning to do some event to show the public the ship before is leaves on the 26th.

Friday I joined Leif and his wife on a drive up to the coast to go to the retrospective of a famous Danish artist named Pers Kirkeby at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It was a very windy day and so the waves were all crashing up along the coastline. The Louisiana Museum is a fabulous museum that was once an old villa that they then added onto.

It had rotating shows plus a great permanent collection.

No photos were allowed at the Kirkeby section of the museum but he did huge paintings, sculpture, drawing, and these interesting brick architectural structures around Europe. I think I liked those the best. Some of his later paintings were intriguing, too. He was trained as a geologist and his work is influenced by this.

We then walked around the rest of the building.

Yesterday I biked around Copenhagen and it again was a very windy day. Only about 60 degrees but the sun was out so it did not feel as cold. My first stop was past the National Museum to see the 5th Thule collection again. Last summer I visited it but I wanted to see if they had changed around the collection. This was the expedition that Knud Rasmussen and 2 other greenlandic Esquimos made across the Canadian Arctic all the way to Siberia. He was trying to establish a theory of how the Inuit basically got to Grønland and their history. The collection is gigantic and amazing full of amulets, kayaks, furs, blubber lamps, needles, goggles, harpoons..and on and on. The museum is free and is focused on peoples around the world and through time.

I then biked over towards the ponds and into Norrebro and then met Pia, my roommate, at her university to get coffee.

She is in the anthropology department which is housed in the university building for Health and something, I can not remember. There are university buildings all over the city, each focusing on a different area of study. Last year, Pia spent a year in San Francisco doing her research on healing hands practices, the non-religious healing of the hands, more based in alternative medicine. That is what she is writing her dissertation on.

After parting ways, I wandered through the botanical garden which is right across the street from her. Lucky!

Shrub Monster!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Arken Museum of Modern Art-Ishoj

I couldn't sleep last night, perhaps still jet lag (?), so I stayed up until 3am watching episodes of 'Riget' or as it is known in english, 'The Kingdom'. I only have 2 episodes left and I wish there were more! I've seen the series, by Lars von Trier, in video stores in the States in English. It was a miniseries he did in '94 basically for money. But it's really good! and weird! I'm watching it in Danish with English subtitles, hoping that it will help me get used to hearing danish (and trying to speak it!). Hey, it worked for foreigners watching '90210' in the 90's to learn English! And don't forget the 'Young & the Restless'.

I didn't go the Institute today but instead took the train down to Ishoj to visit the Arken Museum of Modern Art. This weekend is the last for a Nordic photography show that I had read about before coming over here that I wanted to see. It did not disappoint! Many of the artists I didn't recognize, so it was nice to learn more about Nordic artists. The show was great. There was also a surrealist show going on that I wasn't really into, and the museum's main collection was quite good. One video piece by Jesper Just I had seen 2 years ago at the Berlin Biennial called 'Bliss and Heaven'. It is very melodramatic and funny. I didn't know Jesper Just was Danish? Another famous Dane who was in the show was Per Bak Jensen's 'Dreaming Greenland' with its foggy diptych.

These next 3 photographs are taken from the book I bought about the exhibition so the quality isn't very good. Olafur Eliasson had 3 photographs of Iceland. His photography isn't usually shown nowadays, since he got on the color/perception kick.

Two of my favorite artists in the show were Susanna Majuri whose photo was used for the publicity.

and a Finnish artist named Jari Silomaki's 'My Weather Diary', whose photograph + the text gave more to the landscape presented. Beautiful. Thoughtful photographs...

The Museum itself was a crazy building, almost like a ship.

A Lawrence Weiner on the front of the building

A Jeff Koons...from looking down a dark hallway....

same hallway that lead back into the cafe and gift shop...

And the beach was right behind it! Today was a very brooding weather day. It rained a little off and on and so the waves were a bit crazy. Really pretty though.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Amager Strandpark visit

Today after I got out of the Arctic Institute I decided to bike to the beach. Looking at the map, it only looked like is was about 2 miles away. Maybe even less. So off I went! The bike paths in the city make life so much easier! I'm sold!

The beach is called Amager Strandpark and is actually a long skinny island with pedestrian bridges connecting it to the 'mainland', which is also an island....

I biked out to a little jut of land out from the main walk/bikeway. On the right you can kind of make out the bridge I biked across to get over to the 'beach' part.On the left is some sort of building for swimming I think. I couldn't really tell.

I found these! Shrimp tails in a glass jar! Of course!

I biked down the main path of the beach and parked my bike so that I could walk out close to the water. I sat there for some time watching a few sailboats and also a few huge ships go past

There were quite a few of these little jelly fish.

This is the view looking back towards town. There were quite a lot of people jogging or biking or taking walks with their families. Some people also were naked swimming.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Copenhagen Fall 2008

So I don't keep up with this blog much. But I will be writing again because I have returned to Copenhagen to the Arctic Institute where i was last summer for 4 days. I am here on an American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship along with funding from the Roth Endowment. I am living in Amager (south east section of Copenhagen) off of Amagerbrogade (the main street running down Amager) from now until end of December. I am doing more polar research but concentrating on the Danish in Greenland and eastern Arctic.

I have been here for 3 days and today (saturday) was an open gallery weekend in Copenhagen but I was unable to find many of the galleries that were listed. So I wandered the city, which wasn't so bad : ) The weather held off and it didn't rain like it was supposed to. I went from 90 degree weather in Ann Arbor to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Big difference! Especially with the sea breeze, it is so nice!

below are a few photos from my wanderings today and also where I will be working, along with a few curiosities. This city is so beautiful and interesting to look at. The people are just as interesting.

The Arctic Institute in Christianshavn

My desk is the one on the right in the front that is far...

The swimming pool in the canal at Islands Brygge which is the section next to Amager where I live.

Famous Magasin department store in Kongins Nytorv (a big plaza)

The old opera house and theatre in Kongens Nytorv

The new opera house along the canal

The Kunstindustrimuseet or rather the industrial design museum

A super hot & comfy chair by Donna & Bambino

Newspaper chair

What I call a 'sludge' chair by Gunnar Anderson

A group of chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen

I will continue posting things that I am seeing and also will discuss the research I am doing here. My aim is to create a few new bodies of work off of the research that I will do this fall, as well as to get better at my Danish!