At House of Futures we are well aware that visions for the future and ideas on overcoming demographic, ecological or national/international political challenges are not always created in strategic planning sessions. No, very concrete visions of the future will sometimes spring from journeys through unknown, yet strangely familiar landscapes; in a sudden strong sense of belonging to a place not yet created.
This summer Inga G. Nielsen, one of the three performance artists from House of Futures, and a group of new and old friends found a place like that in Tolne, a small countryside village on the edge of the dark forest in Vendsyssel, the very North of Denmark. This blog shortly introduces their vision, the association and finally how they will introduce KINSKI, an avantgarde cinema and performance art residency – and thereby put TOLNE on the map of the cultural exchange program TANDEM Europe.
KINSKI is a small association of artists and cultural entrepreneurs gathered in a little village on the tip of Denmark. Its architectural basis is an ancient dairy, which is currently being restored into a venue for cinematographic expression and solo performance art. Carefully embedded into the local social sphere of the village on the one hand and with a strong basis in the international art scene on the other, it challenges the urban assumption of the european countrysides being abandoned to right-wing populists. Activities therefor center around the involvement of local refugees in curation, organization and artistic expression.
Tolne is such a wonderfully strange place. Perhaps the closest you can come to TWIN PEAKS in Denmark. That summer, last year when Johannes and I visited Tolne and Frederik and Asger showed us the old dairy factory they had just bought in order to start their cinema, we started dreaming with them. Dreaming for real. Of a life up there. A life in a rural area, in which we would be able to live and do what we love among people so different from us, touching ground locally, whilst expanding our European network. We are motivated to bring other artists up here, because we expect them to enjoy letting their work and current thinking be inspired by the local spirit/s of Tolne. A place so far away from the city, but where challenges such as the coming of Syrian refugees (walking the roads between the refugee center and Hjørring) become ever more visible. With the support of ‘Venligboerne’ (the local initiative to welcome refugees), our ambition is to involve those other new arrivals to the extent, where they will be able to take on the task of running the house in periods. This includes curating the movie- and possibly the performance art program. We know from our own experience how artistic work builds a sense of self and value. KINSKI is thus our way to create a place of high artistic and personal value for ourselves and other “foreigners” in this somewhat unheimliche land of the Danish countryside.
I have experienced in earlier projects how performance art can facilitate strong encounters between two parties alien to each other. For instance by adding a fictional level to the House of Futures seminar-series ‘In 100 Years’ (http://in100y.dk) or at events for and about the conditions of asylum seekers in Copenhagen with the performance collective Club de la Faye and other groups. The performance artist can – in the best case – turn into the strange Other, that allows for the alien parties to meet whilst observing a third “thing”.
URBAN STANDARDS FOR ARTISTIC PRODUCTION ON THE COUNTRY SIDE
The ambition of KINSKI is to work under the assumption of urban standards in curation and reception, whilst producing on and for the countryside. We therefor assume our collaborators (locals & refugees) to be/come ready for a meeting within the paradigmatic art forms of modernity and post-modernity: experimental cinema and performance art. The region of Vendsyssel has proven to be a good spot for the avantgardes, hosting the famous Skagen-painter ́s colony at the turn of the century. KINSKI is now setting out to challenge the more nostalgic notions of this local history: questioning the linkage of countryside and mere artistic craftmanship by providing a place for younger, participatory forms of cultural production and artistic agency.
In order to provide the project with that exact connection into the urban, european perspective that we need and don ́t want to lose, we applied – and were selected to take part in the final round of the European TANDEM project.
TANDEM Europe has been created in order for social entrepreneurs to meet and potentially find a partner in order to develop a prototype for a project together through workshops in Milan in October 2015. We know that there is much knowledge and inspiration for us to gain out there based in experience with artistic projects in similarly challenging areas in Europe.
We are looking very much forward to participating. KINSKI is only at its beginning, whilst the Dairy Factory is being restored into a cinema and stage. However, we believe in the synchronicity of sharing its vision in Milan whilst building it in Tolne. It is a very good possibility for the alchemy of embedding the european and the local into each other.
Asger Vedel-Jensen and Frederik Sams:
Cinema program , infrastructure administration of Tolne Avantgarde , local community embedding, local fundraising.
Inga G. Nielsen & Johannes M. Schmit , curator of the performance art program project and volunteer coordinator , fundraising, international embedding
‘Venligboerne’, local initiative for refugees, partners for collaboration and workshops.