Kerstin Bergendal

I am a Copenhagen-based visual artist and curator, working within an expanded field of visual art.

I always take my point departure in a chosen site. I use the physical frame of the site, to initiate a process of re-imagining it, or to point out what and whom that has been squeezed out in its present organization. In Twenty Days In Viborg – a Journey, the chosen site is the public historical museum.

I am often present at the chosen site for a very long time – from some, to several years. During this time, I use an alleged mapping of the chosen site as my“ errand” or reason to address a wide range of different persons, related to it. For “Twenty Days..” my errand was to describe the chosen site – the city of Viborg, through the eyes of a Traveller. I was the traveller, going back and forth to Viborg during three years.

Twenty Days ..” is otherwise somewhat different from my other works, as the participants from the start were limited to a specific number, and were introduced to me through the ethnologist from the local historical museum – Rikke. In most of my other works, I stay on site for a very long time, striking up conversations with people by pure chance. Through these dialogues, I get to know more about the site, and meanwhile the participants mechanically come to talk to each other and maybe even get to know each other. Thus a circle gradually expands into very local but often quite large public discourses, also including participants from other professions such as librarians, architects, planners and ethnologists with a relation to the site.

On the one hand my work of art is the realization of this kind of quite long, strategic but intuitive and open-end public dialogue processes.

These processes grow out of one basic condition; They are organized by an artist. This fact places them outside, or more precisely alongside “the real world”. They are temporary exceptions, soap-bubbles, “here and now”. Within these bubbles, a different set of rules apply, than if they had been a part of “reality”. As no hierarchy is distinguishing participants, the stretched dialogues also becomes a kind of micro-democracies, and as such they can bring about a distinctive change in any local structure.

On the other hand, my work also includes the elaboration of a concluding “image” of the re-imagined site. I use my own categories for this artwork – the model, or
prototype. I propose utopic, but fully viable models for re-organization of chosen places, which would change them from current mono-functions to heterotopic commons. Implemented, they would nourish a re-defined, local fellowship.

In “Twenty Days..” the aim with the collection of videos is to visualize the parts of a persons life, that might not be registered using current prefixed search-categories of contemporary ethnology. With my work as a 1:1 model, I suggest pure chance as an expanded practice of a contemporary historical museum.

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