30 June 2011

Re: Construction

Did I mention that everything in Copenhagen is under construction or being renovated at the moment? It seems very uncoordinated to me. This would be the perfect time to call all creative minds, and try to come up with a couple of winning construction site solutions that could even inspire other big cities. Vertical gardens? Trompe l'oeil effects? Inviting children, street artists or entire neighborhoods to embellish their local eyesore? I would love to see the city employ an aesthete, not a desk jockey, but an actual field person. Someone who could not only point out the violations to the human eye, but also come up with simple solutions on how to improve things (and I am not talking about another advertising banner cover up, here). I understand that looking good may not be the main priority for the entrepreneurs, but that does not mean that things should just be left the way they are.

The other day I passed yet another construction site in the centre of the city, and I nearly fell off my bike. It was beautiful. So beautiful that I had to dismount and spend the next twenty minutes taking pictures of every little detail. 

This masterpiece is by the scaffolder F.M. Stilladsservice. Have you ever seen anyone take such pride in scaffolding before? I am blown away!

26 June 2011

From Nørrebro with love

Before you go thinking that I have turned into a cranky hater, I think I'd better spread some love. All these hearts were spotted on the same day, and all of them on Nørrebro. If I had seen them anywhere else in Copenhagen I might have dismissed them as cheesy, but they are blooming in the midst of construction work and cemeteries, and I think it is obvious that they come... well, from the heart.

A heavy heart

A heavy heart, the project En Sten Fra Hjertet (a stone from the heart), Danish expression for getting it off your chest. An art project by artist Jens Toni Willumsen, offering people a way to unburden their hearts, either by writing directly on the stone, or placing a note in the cement. 

The wall of the famous Assistens Cemetery. This wall is not just a wall, it is a battlefield. On one side you have those who think it is the perfect canvas for tags and graffiti, on the other you have me. I love this rare stretch of calm, and I appreciate the efforts to keep it clean.

(crazy cosy song made a hundred years ago in support for freetown Christiania)

You can't kill us, we are a part of you...

2200 the zipcode of Nørrebro.

I love Nørrebro.

25 June 2011

It's not me

The latest batch of high school graduates are hatched, and tradition prescribes that on graduation day they have a drink in everybody's house. You do the math. They get around in decorated trucks, and every year they grow louder. No, it is not just me. As a step up from last year they now have professional sound systems, police sirens, megaphones and microphones. It is not too many years ago I got all teary eyed and emotional watching them, so deliriously happy and hopeful in their little hats. Now... not so much. There is nothing endearing about the "Paradise Hotel" on wheels, the crap they throw overboard or the banners hanging from the sides of nearly every truck I have seen:

One honk: we toast, two honks: bottoms up, three honks: we flash some skin (you can just imagine the most frequent number of honks.. Pigs may not fly, but they certainly drive.)

And before you go thinking this was an isolated event, check out this one taking it a step further:

Honk while you are waiting, we have graduated. One honk: we toast, two honks: bottoms up, three honks: we bare it all.

It is not just unoriginal it is downright sad. I was all set up to pity them, when I got home and read the banner on the side closer:

Thanks for the school check (yes, we get those here)... we are looking forward to the welfare check.

Awww, sweet. No?

23 June 2011

I bike you very much

The public space in Amsterdam is devoid of crap-vertising, the city resisting pimping out every inch to the highest bidder with the loudest message. I never really thought about what a luxury that is. That is not to say there are no advertisements, they are just kept to a minimum, and confined to selected places. None of those fully covered advertising buses and taxis, like we suffer them in Copenhagen. Once you get even a short break from that garbage, you realise how draining it is to filter out on a daily basis. A note to the advertisers and the people in charge of this mayhem: we are not just consumers, we are human beings. Please treat us accordingly.

There are other ways of getting your message through than "loud" and "obnoxious" (and sexist and condescending). We already have bike-vertising in Copenhagen with the flyers, seat covers and the campaign bikes, but the Dutch are way ahead of us.

Origami advertising


The origami birds. I found them attached to a couple of bikes, a mystery begging to be solved. Inside was a suggestion to pay someone a compliment and offering them an origami bird, pay-it-forward-style (it was in Dutch so you will have to go by my interpretation). There was a link, but no scare tactics, no making you feel like your life is incomplete without some crappy product. Can you imagine? I had to look it up, and that is already more than most advertisers can hope for. What was it about then, you ask? An online gift card service, of all things.

And then there was the airline luggage style strips, left there by the bicycle basket company. The concept: leave the strip hanging on your bike until a set date, and you will automatically enter the competition to win a bicycle basket. All they invite you to do is nothing. How can they lose?

I want my basket

This is your bike speaking. I want my basket. (haha)

Even the bicycle stores are cool:

The WorkCycles shop after hours. Artwork by artist Abner Preis.

Laugh more.

Live more.

Amsterdam I miss you already.

21 June 2011


As much as I love Copenhagen, I sometimes find it hard to breathe here. Maybe that is the case for anyone living in a small country? I just got back from a (too) short trip to Amsterdam with five days of hanging with the family, cruising on the bike and greeting all my favorite spots. Just checking in. 


Last time in Amsterdam I was seeing street art everywhere. This time it was like a different layer appeared. Goose bump material in hiding, just waiting for me to uncover it. 

Vintage Amsterdam photos. Obviously meant to keep people from peeping in, but what I like so much is the 3D collage effect, and the endless fun of re-shooting and mixing it up (pictures of pictures, ah).


Macro that.

And around the corner from that the small guerrilla garden, spontaneously erupted in discarded cans.

Guerrilla gardening / Wong Chef

(insert appreciative sound here)

Tegen de soop van de kunst

Yum: using your windows to display your art or speak your mind. The message is not quite clear to me, maybe you can help? Against (something) of art. Writing with tape mmmmm.

And the dogs. Killing me softly, I want one. Now.


Just as I stepped out the door, this woman and her four legged passenger rushed right by me. I was so not ready for something like that, desperately going through my bag to find my camera and then zooming like a mad person to show you this act. Would you have believed me otherwise?


15 June 2011

North by Northwest

The one thing that creeps me out about living in the city is the escalating gentrification. Nothing is allowed to grow wild or just exist unsupervised and the apartments are becoming so expensive that they are out of reach for small income households. Leaving a city in danger of turning into a monochrome amusement park exclusively for those who can afford the ride.

As the centre expands, people move further away. The island Amager is picking up the pace, and so is the Northwest side. I took a nice long trip there the other day not knowing where I was going, ending up way out in the new Youth House. I swear, if they had placed these kids any further from the centre they would need a passport to get there. One of my biggest regrets is not seeing the Youth House at Jagtvej when I had the chance, so this one had my undivided attention. I need to go back of course because there are so many layers and levels that I did not get to see, but I felt enough like a tourist as it was. This too familiar sense of not belonging, I wish it would go away.

Shake that money maker

Shake that money maker.

Tag toget / tag (take) the train

Tag (take) the train. This is so good, haha.

The police has totally lost control...

"The police has totally lost control over this part of the city to the youngsters"

Welcome / The Rules

The ground rules. No bullshit allowed.

You can't plan for this sort of thing. As a city all you can do is make room for it and hope it will grow.

(more Youth House yum on flickr)

The Youth House:
Dortheavej 61
2400 NV Copenhagen

13 June 2011


One of my favorite stores in Copenhagen is the local illustration art gallery CMYKkld. It is one of those rare and genuine places that make you feel welcome and at ease, and although it is the size of a one bedroom apartment, you can easily spend hours there and still not see everything. Every inch is packed with goodness, originals and prints, posters and independent limited publications. 

The artwork is crazy inspiring, but the interior is a show in itself: the bookshelves are made from cut up old chairs, and everything has been painted a dark grey, down to the doorknobs, lamps and picture frames. The pictures (mine) really don't do this place justice, you will just have to take my word for it when I tell you it is one of the coolest stores in Copenhagen.

Look at that illustrated smørrebrøds guide in the far right corner, my heart nearly skipped a beat!

The latest show is a collage themed co-exhibition by illustrators Hanne Louise Nielsen and resident Norwegian Gina Thorstensen, very different in style, yet complementing each other perfectly. This is my favorite Hanne piece:

Watch what you read! It will shape you.

And a video with a touch of Gina, oozing "hygge".

(you feel it, don't you?)

CMYKkld is located in Jægersborggade (but of course), with a set of cosy opening hours:

Jægersborggade 51
2200 N Copenhagen

Link fest:

10 June 2011

Ladies and gentlemen

As a recent development my eyes have grown big enough to hold people too. Suddenly I am spotting cool details on other cyclists, and I find myself chasing them down the street desperately reaching for my camera. And no way I have the balls to ask their permission, I sneak the shots like a thief in the night, up close and from behind.

It is interesting (to me) how even with people I still see the big picture in the details. Colorful, unexpected, tidy, messy, sexy, funny, it is all there. It can also be in a single gesture, like the father holding his daughter's tiny hand at the red light (I still can't get over that), those are the little things that in a way tells you everything. It feels a little strange to only see all this now... on the other hand I have been busy exploring the still life. But I assure you that the people spotting is not going to take my focus away from that, it just feels like my eyes have grown so big and hungry that they need more.

A star in stripes

I call this girl a star in stripes. 

Red on red

Obviously still working on the settings..

High speed chase

Rushing down the street with a big chair in her arms (me in high speed chase on my bike). The dark nylons in the coral stacked wooden heels.. yes, woman! 


Crazy cool little Copenhagener. I feel like throwing in a fanfare.

And the men...

The back pocket

...it makes me wonder what I have been missing all along.

If you know what I mean?

06 June 2011


Nothing sucks the fun out of things like feeling obligated. I felt obligated to report on Distortion, the annual and just finished five day, three borough block party, drawing about 100.000 participants a day. I wasn't going to, but now that it's over leaving Copenhagen looking like a landfill and smelling like a toilet, I feel like saying a few words (buckle up). What started as a small and ultra cool underground party for a couple of hundred people back in 1998 have turned into what the press now call a monster. A monster with 300.000 bladders unable to use a garbage can or clean up after itself in any way. 

I like the idea that you can throw a party all over the city, spreading the fun and some of the pressure so that we all get our share. The event is the result of a lot of hard work by the Distortion crew and a lot of goodwill from the City of Copenhagen, and if you only do the outdoor part it is even free. What do you say, then? Thank you. Not by emptying your bladder on other people's bicycles and front doors, or defecating up the windows of the small shops in the narrow streets. But perhaps by picking up that bottle you just broke, or left in the middle of the street, and throwing some of your crap in the garbage cans. And while you are at it, try to make this event welcome next year by say not jumping on people's cars, tearing up roadwork and tagging everything on your way. And what else?

Let me think..

Floating couch

Next year remember to bring mommy so she can pick up after you.

04 June 2011

The silent treatment

During the black winter with over fifty swans poisoned, I was sure that it was just a matter of time before the last handful succumbed. But they miraculously survived and come spring they were nesting in the oddest places, on neatly arranged layers of trash and algae. But they still had plenty of obstacles to overcome, like idiots getting too close in boats and canoes, disrupting the peace. I even spotted a couple of "sailors" on the microscopic bird island, chopping away at a swans nest. They must not know any better. On the other hand, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out...

It is obvious that we need some guidelines here, but once again the City is giving us the silent treatment. The guy who rents out boats (with a brand new and expanded fleet this year), was not even aware that there were nesting birds. He of all people should at least have been advised, wouldn't you say? The real problem is that not one person is responsible for the swans (at least not this winter, when I was on the phone with everyone from the park people to the university). You get this sneaking suspicion that our national bird is merely considered a nuisance, or at best a lake-accessory. If it was up to me the information about the lake-wildlife would be available both on signs and online, and someone was in charge of keeping the birds happy, healthy and alive. How about it, Copenhagen?

With all these obstacles I was not expecting the swans to deliver, but look:

Oh, happy heart.