This instalment of queeringborders, which we called Copenhagen Landscapes, emerged from a research residency between artists Xavier de Sousa and An* at Warehouse9, in Copenhagen, on the lead up to the city’s 24th Pride Parade in August 2019.
This volume is composed of four self-contained interviews with artists and activists from Copenhagen’s queer and live-art communities and was first exhibited in video-form as part of QueerLands, a community-focused alternative to the hyper-commodified Copenhagen Pride. They are now published digitally, in audio format, as a podcast made in collaboration between the artists, Warehouse9 (DK) and performingborders (UK).
During these four 30 minute-long interviews we discuss Pride and co-option, racism and racial inequality in the arts and queer communities and the artists working and living conditions as well as how those reflect and relate with the city’s developments and current political situation. From various angles and perspectives, with the interviewees’ experiences at the core, we speak about the importance of preserving arts and community-focused venues, of DIY initiatives for making and collaborating, of intersectionality and interlinking struggles and of fighting for spaces for gathering outside of consumerism.
During the residency, Xavier and An* were hosted in Copenhagen’s borough of Nørrebro and were working from a studio at Warehouse9, in the Meatpacking district, in the Vesterbro area. These two boroughs are heavily featured in these conversations, as the two represent different stages of the same rapid process of gentrification affecting the city’s landscape and its communities.
These conversations call for a nourishing of (hyper-)locality whilst maintaining a global focus, for knowing our histories of resistance and of protest and of acknowledging our position, our privileges, and our complacency, within the different political forces and shifts that affect our surroundings.
To begin we spoke to Sara Hamming and Lukas Racky, two artists working on the themes of body politics and urban development, focusing particularly on their work at the Astrid Noak Atelier “The place is alive – 30 days of performance” a DIY series of daily art actions in response to the on-going conversion of the Atelier’s backyard and its surrounding area into expensive flats.
We shared a lovely Skype conversation with filmmaker and visual artist Lasse Lau, as he wasn’t in town, where we delved into his work on the commodification of Pride protests in the west, the current condition of Queer liberation movements and his book “Queer Geographies” which explores different queer contexts in Copenhagen, Beirut and Tijuana.
For our third interview we were hosted by Visual and Performance Artist Jupiter Childin their home in Nørrebro where they told us about their journey from Mozambique to Denmark, the difficulties accessing and navigating the art world in the west as a Queer Black person, and the alternative Pride movements (particularly Nørrebro pride, organised by and for people of colour) surging in Copenhagen over the recent years.
Our final guests, Jørgen Callesen and Emma Møller, our hosts at Warehouse9, are artists, producers and activists making space for queer and experimental performance/live-art practices in Copenhagen. The day before QueerLands 2019, they reminisced on the beginning and early days of Warehouse9, the importance of having a venue in central Copenhagen with a focus on live-art and queer practices, the intersections of art and activism, and how important it is to understand and support ones surroundings.
SARAH HAMMING & LUKAS RAKI
Copenhagen Landscapes is part of An*’s and Xavier’s longer-standing research project exploring the intersections between Art and Activism and the ethics of reproducing protest actions.
Xavier de Sousa is an independent performance maker, curator and producer based between Brighton and Lisbon. His practice explores personal and political heritage within the context of discourse on belonging, nationalism and migration. Through theatrical and durational work, he explores the dichotomies between the live experience and agency in the performance space. He is currently developing a trilogy of works about belonging and national identity, kickstarted with his first theatre show, POST (touring), supported by METAL, LiveCollision Festival, East Street Arts, Migration Matters Festival, The Gulbenkian, Ovalhouse Theatre and HOME. Xavier curates the queeringborders series of interviews and performingborders | Live, as well as the New Queers on the Block touring programme.
Previously, he has collaborated with Tim Etchels, Rosana Cade, and with institutions such as Latitude Festival, Tate Modern, Vogue Fabrics, Southbank Centre, The Yard Theatre, CITEMOR (Portugal), Operastate Festival (Italy), Onassis Culture Centre (Athens), Kalamata Dance Festival (Greece) amongst others.
An* Neely (b. ‘93) is an artist working with poetry, live performance and time-based mediums to accelerate speculative autofictions investigating intimacy, desire and hegemonic body political narratives.
An has performed and shown work across Europe, including at Supernormal Festival, TATE Modern and The Yard Theatre (UK), Warehouse9 (DK), Teatro da Politecnica (PT), HAU Berlin and Kunst-Werke (DE). In 2014/15, they were a Soho Theatre Young Writer, developing the full-length play STILLNESS.
An maintains long-term artistic and intimate research collaborations with Libby Norman (Each Other’s Others) and Rowan de Freitas (In the end we’re all plurals/ I’ve only lived on Islands); these experiments have resulted in multi-disciplinary publications, hosted and archived online.
They are also a founding member of @ some point, a collective of artists and producers creating spaces for people to learn things from each other, make friends, make art, and queer neoliberal structures of higher education.
@somepoint have most recently created spaces at Youtopia Festival, The Green Rooms (London), Unlearning: London and Unlearning: Berlin, and DISKURS: no service (University of Giessen).
As a freelance performer, An has worked for artists and choreographers such as Liz Rosenfeld, Harold Offeh, Bojana Cvejić, Rosana Cade and Okwui Okpokwasili, amongst others.
They trained in Contemporary Dance at Tanzfabrik Berlin and hold a BA in Performance Art from RCSSD, University of London.