Copenhagen and Umeå
A few days after returning from Poland I went to Copenhagen and Umeå - the latter city in the North of Sweden. In Copenhagen the Network on Migration and Culture had organized a conference titled “Crossroads: Europe, Migration and Culture”. I had been invited to give a keynote lecture, and when I proposed to also exhibit my installation Nothing is Missing the organisors immediately and enthusiastically agreed. They found three students who are curating projects under the inspiring, enigmatic name “Macho Llorando. Here they are: Tobias, Karen and Elin.
As you will soon see on the relevant page, they did a brilliant job. The most touching detail was a pair of worn shoes under a chair. A silent sign of absence. Thank you so very much!
Another big thank-you goes to Frauke Wiegand. Frauke accompanied me from the first to the last moment, including on bike rides through the city - with Amsterdam, Copenhagen is biking paradise - and organised everything in such detail that any question I had was already answered before I posed it. Here she is, herself a dedicated PhD student working on memory. She also participated in the “masterclass” I was asked to give the day before.
Right after these activities I went on to Umeå. The attraction was a video installation exhibition, “Fields of Theatricality”. They wanted me to give a lecture at a conference. This turned out a half-day event, with two lectures, one by performance artist Joan Jonas, whose installation Lines in the Sand was not only brilliant but totally enchanting. Unfortunately, I missed the live performance of this piece she did the evening when I arrived, exhausted. In this work, Jonas revises the mythical story of Helen, allegedly the (sexual) cause of the Trojan war. In line with H.D.(Hilda Doolittle) in her epic poem, the Trojan war was a trade war and Helen wasn’t even there; she was in Egypt. Jonas reads lines from Doolittle’s text while writing with chalk on blackboard,walking through projections with palempsestic layers of shadows and other signs in the desert sand. H.D. had been in analysis with Freud. This, and many other elements, spoke directly to my own interests.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the format of this event: between single lecture and a full, often overloaded conference program, just a half day, two speakers, an exhibition, lots to see and to talk about.