SHADOW LIGHT – THE GLORIFIED STORY
The set off for these two flags is the concept of Danishness. How this concept in an, to me, unnatural way is defining the Danish people by equality conceived as similarity, and how people not being the same in that way are excluded.
This view dates back to the 19th century national romantic idea of the People described by the Danish priest, poet and politician Grundtvig. Grundtvig founded the Folk high school in 1844 as a reaction against the elitist view on education. This school should be for Danish people from all levels of society (though not women until 1866). At the same time Grundtvig believed in a biblical nationalism that says that what God has separated we are not allowed to mix, which meant he was hostile against both Germans and Jews. He did find that you can only be born Danish. As the war against Germany in 1848 began these thoughts became even more explicit.
I have chosen to work with historic monuments as they support a country’s national identity. Historic monuments stand at the intersection of history and memory. Deliberately built into the landscape, they can shape our understandings of the past and influence the way we think about the present and the future. But monuments seldom tell the whole story. Built environment often inscribes selective and misleading versions of the past in solid, material forms. These narratives — told through street names, parks, monuments, and buildings — ultimately marginalize and exclude. In my works the monuments are represented as repeating silhouettes – supporting the same glorified story, giving the same possibility for identification.
The flags are built around The Statue of Liberty and The Little Mermaid, two iconic figures both representing a strong national feeling. In the silhouettes of these two female statues I portray two women, who don’t meet the idea of the people but instead are portraits of two homeless women living on the edge of society.
The women portrayed are inspired by photos taken by the photographer Marianne Grøndahl of homeless people in Odense, DK, printed in the book Outcast (2012). I have made contact to the Danish Projekt Udenfor (Project Outside) as well, which helps vulnerable citizens living an isolated life on the street against the excluding factors of society. In May 2016 they held a seminar about homeless women “On the Bottom of Denmark – When Vulnerability has a Gender.”
I’m interested in the interplay between silhouettes and portraits, the people and the individual. The flags have a dual view led by the level of light. During daytime you see the portraits of the homeless women and at nighttime the outlines of the monuments glow. I’m reflecting on what we see, and the way we see ourselves.
Danish national symbols:
The Little Mermaid Inspired by the fairy tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul.
The Equestrian Statue of Absalon Made to mark the 700 years’ anniversary in 1902 of the death of Bishop Absalon, Copenhagen’s legendary founder (1128 – 1201).
The Liberty Memorial Monument Marks the end of serfdom in DK in 1788.
The Isted Lion A symbol of the Danish victory over the Germans in the First War of Schleswig in 1850 about Schleswig and Holstein at the border to Germany.
The Brave Foot Soldier A symbol of the Battle of Fredericia 1849, fought during the First War of Schleswig, in which Danish troops won a victory over the Schleswig-Holstein attacking the town.
American national symbols:
Statue of Liberty The Statue of Liberty dedicated in 1886 from the French people commemorating the alliance of France and the United States during the American Revolution and the perseverance of freedom and democracy in the United States.
Lincoln Memorial Dedicated in 1922 to honour the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.
The Washington Monument The 169 meter tall marble obelisk tower build 1848 – 1888 symbolizes the nations’s industrial and agricultural strength.
Marine Corps War Memorial The statue the1945 World War II invasion of the small Pacific Island of Iwo Jima controlled by the Japanese army. By capturing the island it would give the Allied Forces a base from where the Japanese mainland could be reached. A regiment was ordered to capture Mount Suribachi. As a symbol they climbed to the top and raised a flag.
The Liberty Bell A symbol of American independence casted in 1752.
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