Man lånte jo ikke nåle i Herning / And one did not borrow needles in Herning
This two-sided work responds to an invitation from the New Carlsberg Foundation concerning a public artwork for the city of Ikast Brande, in Denmark.
The invitation was extended in 2017 to three artists – Cai Ulrich von Platen, Jørgen Carlo Larsen and myself – each asked to elaborate additions to a complex building, the new Cultural House of Ikast-Brande, Hjertet/ The Heart, designed by architects C F Møller (DK). From 1991 – 2005, we constituted the core of an artist run platform, called TAPKO, pioneering site specific art in Denmark by realizing more than 20 exhibitions in in-and outside of the exhibitionary complex, including works of participating colleagues from Denmark and abroad.
Thus, as a point of departure, the invitation was linked to TAPKO and to site-specificity, and as a consequence to the town in which the Cultural House was built – Ikast. This is a minor town in the region of Jutland, famous for its booming textile industry during the 1900s. This boom grew in harsh competition with a similar boom in the neighboring town, Herning – hence the title of the project.
One work – Two versions
The work consists of two versions of the same content – a selection of recorded enquiries among locals and local agents of the town of Ikast. From these dialogues, the artist chose 176 quotes, subsequently used in two different ways:
As parts of a physical artwork on site: Individual and subjective quotes from the taped dialogues were anonymized, and adapted to be engraved 4-6 mm deep into the slabs both of the indoor and outdoor “floor” of the new Cultural House. Indoors, the black ceramic tiles are rectangular. On the outside, the large white slabs, chosen by the architects, are five-c
ornered and irregular, in order to make up a complex pattern. Each quote was adapted, to fit the format of a chosen slab. By then also giving each quote a specific font and font size, it acts a singular “voice” and when grouped, a sort of dialogue or a poetic meaning through association, can be generated between the different statements.
The176 text fragments now appear on site, as a stream of subtle and varied sum of “voices”, spread irregularly over the entire surface of the large new square and meandering in through the interior of the imposing building. As they pronounce informative, dry, odd, funny and melancholic opinions on life in the town of Ikast, they mechanically incite visitors / inhabitants to self-reflective dialogues. Through this process, the semi-private square can over time be reclaimed as a commons, open to a local publicness.
The subtle nature of the engravings adds an ever changeable aspect of the work; In mid-day sunshine, concrete goes light and dry. The texts then almost disappear. On a rainy day, the text in the concrete becomes evident and black. On windy days, most of the fragments are covered or filled by sand, trash or leaves. Indoors, the text fragments are placed right in the middle of areas used for activities. They will gradually be erased and traces of life are gradually added on – rust spots, wine spots, chewing gum and car tracks – all of which gradually will transform the floor of the square to a Book of Life.
As an app: In order for visitors on site to identify the individual and subjective quotes, I have had created an app, which includes a GPS function. For the visitor at home, the quotes are also listed alphabetically. Clicking on a quote, connects you to a short poetic text by the artist and an image connected to its meaning. These texts ponder upon the essence of the quote in question, and/ or relates it to historical events of the local area, going back as far as 10 000 years. This part of the project is elaborated in collaboration with professionals at the Textile Museum of Herning, local archives of the region and the local paper Herning Folkeblad. The mixture of old and new, imaginary and factual, as well as the highs and lows of the quotes themselves, proposes a redefinition of the role of artist in contemporary society. It claims the artist as a transitory figure or ultra-attentive listener, calling for others to gather on a surface of contact, to engage in actually hearing and seeing each other again. “Know yourself”, as a strategy of resilience. A short video finally introduces the entire concept and method, for the app user. It can can be seen here.
A pdf showing app content for the entire 176 quotes here. You can choose to download the app: Search for Kunst til Hjertet, where you usually download apps.
This project was realized in collaboration with artist Marie Rosenkilde Lindberg, and with Ikast-Brande Kommune; CF Møller Architects; Valand Academy; Ikast Stenhuggeri Midt-Jyllands Museum and Tekstilmuseet in Herning; Herning Folkeblad; Ikast Lokalhistorik Arkiv; Omslev Kolt Lokalhistorisk arkiv and Lokalhistorisk arkiv Herning. App production by CMP Company / Hanna Bergman design.
The work is published in the home pages of Tekstil Museet and of New Carlsberg Foundation.