Despite being in the city, the campsite is very quiet and it was almost 10 when I woke up. So, a slow start. I cycled 5k into the city with no destination and no plan. I parked up and wandered.
It’s a pleasant city, with nice waterside areas; a clean and modern European capital.
To the east of the centre there is Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen’s alternative neighbourhood.
As the tourist blurb would have it, “Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap and organic eateries.” What it fails to list is, a great place to buy cannabis. Literally every three metres or so, there were guys with small pitches selling about four choices of ‘herb’, slicing up pieces from lumps the size of half a house-brick. Everywhere should have a freetown, for those who want it.
As I passed through the area I saw a poster for a Marina Abramović ‘thing’ at the National Library so set out for that.
Simply put, she had curated their precious books that live behind glass, selected passages to be read, and created an environment devoid of distraction to listen to the readings. After handing in my phone and watch, and receiving a headset and iPod to select and skip readings, I entered the space with only one other person. In the centre, the books were displayed behind glass, around the edge there were seats and platforms on which you could lie. For an hour and twenty minutes I scanned through readings from the library’s untouchable collection, from Danté, the diary of Danish arctic explorers found with their bodies, erotic letters shared by a writer with her lover, creation legends and more, all introduced by Abramović. I enjoyed it.
Afterwards, I went to the National Gallery, which opens until 20:00 on Wednesdays. I went to buy a ticket only to be told that, if I waited for twenty minutes, it would be free because there was an exhibition launch. I waited.
The main collection was very nicely presented Danish and European art, with big names, up to the Second World War. The launch was for a Danish artist called Danh Vo who, and here I show my visual art ignorance, is of the ‘I can put any old tat in front of people and get away with it’ school. If you have to read the catalogue for an explanation of each piece, it ain’t f’in working in my view; but what do I know. Couldn’t resist this picture, which summed up wanky art launches for me,
but, as I say, what do I know.
The gallery was a lovely space,
next to the botanical garden and natural history museum, and held some great art if you like the period works. There were a few pieces I liked, the photos don’t do them justice, apart from this one.
As soon as I saw it, I was drawn to the unsettling expression in the eyes. Then I read the title; And in his eyes I saw death. The artist, Ejnar Nielsen, nailed it as far as I’m concerned.