Kerstin Bergendal's work is based on a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around her, and her artworks grow out of her intense continuous dialogue with it.

She always works with a focus on public spaces. By intervening in our shared spaces − the library, schoolyard, park and urban areas, she opens up their role and content for discussion. This provokes us to reimagine the concept of community, on which these spaces are created.

In Twenty Days in Viborg – A Journey, Bergendal proposes a different perspective on the concept and role of the historic museum. Her starting point is to question how the presented version of history is produced. Would a different version of history appear, had it been the product of a different set of parameters?

Inviting Rikke Johansen Smidt, the ethnologist from Viborg Museum, to be her travelling companion, she embarks on a constructed journey to the homes of twenty citizens of Viborg. Unlike a piece of classic predefined museum research, this journey maps contemporary Viborg using pure random logic. There are no prefixed focus areas or premeditated values for the journey. Each conversation takes its own unpredictable course. Each participant also directs the two companions onwards to the next person. Bergendal and Johansen Smidt have no control at all. Johansen Smidt records all conversations for posterity, while Bergendal acts as the traveller, documenting each home through 40 – 120 intuitive snapshot photographs. These photographs have now been bought by Viborg Museum.

In twenty additional short films, Bergendal invites us to share the moment much later, when each participant sees Bergendal's photographs for the first time. Triggered by the images, the participants share their memories and reflections of living in Viborg. These reflections develop a different history of the city of Viborg in the 21st century a web of intertwined personal relations that just happened to have one common physical point of departure.

From the outset it was decided that this work will be shown in Viborg Museum in exactly 25 years time.

Bodil Johanne Monrad,
Viborg Kunsthal



In 2009, a series of coincidences led to me exhibiting in the public gallery in Viborg − a city I didn't previously know. And it was pure coincidence that one day I walked into Viborg historical museum and just happened to ask someone how this type of museum actually decides which version of our history should be told. How about everything that's not included? Everything that they didn't ask about back then?

By chance, the ethnologist Rikke Johansen Smidt from Viborg Museum was already interested in finding out the answer to this question. She became my ethnological travelling companion on a constructed journey to the private homes of twenty different individuals in Viborg. One citizen per day, and a randomly chosen number of participants: Twenty different people − hence the name of the project.

Coincidence controlled all other parts of the process from then on: We found the first person, who directed us to the next. We didn't plan the conversations in advance. Instead each conversation found its own path. My role as "the traveller" perhaps gave us a general opening to ask about the aspects of daily life you don't often discuss. And in particular, I was allowed, like all travellers, to document my visit to each person's home with my camera. These are the snapshot-like photographs that appear in the films.

The twenty short films show the moment much later when each individual sees these photographs for the first time. And they document some of the memories and reflections that they trigger. A conversation, which like the images, moves between the details of where they live and a holistic perspective of the individual's life history.

With Twenty Days in Viborg A Journey, I propose a different perspective on the concept of museums, and a different way of recording our history than that which is typically used by cultural history museums. These institutions primarily collect objects which are selected on predefined collection themes and using a targeted search with regard to the methods and selection criteria specified by national museum legislation. Instead the history of contemporary Viborg, which is communicated through the journey undertaken by myself and Rikke, collects twenty individuals' vastly subjective and sometimes deeply personal life experiences. And these individuals only took part because they happened to be in each other's mind on the day we came by.

Kerstin Bergendal