31 October 2011

United by fall

Was it only last week I was complaining about the six o'clock sunsets? Ha! I forgot about that summertime setting the clocks back thing. We're already down to sometime before five, drowning in an ocean of skimmed milk, here, with days of no sun. It's a curse. Only consolation is that we are in this thing together, and if we have any sense we will help each other through it. All it takes is this:

Street wind chime

Wind chimes.

And a gentle reminder in sidewalk poetry to:






...and Play!

I am instantly inspired to go out and spread some love of my own.

28 October 2011

Street art vs. evil

Some subjects are so toxic that we tend to avoid them altogether. Everyone from citizens to media, police and politicians turn a blind eye on human trafficking. We all agree that slavery is bad, obviously, but it is thriving in the open, with women forced to prostitute themselves on every corner of the Meatpacking District. When someone attempts to bring the subject up, it immediately gets muddied with the issues of prostitution, women's rights and personal freedom. It is a minefield too messy to enter, and this fear of confrontation plays right into the hands of evil. I find it really hard to see women in the street forced to be with men who couldn't give less of a crap about their human rights.

The issue is a constant source of frustration to me. If I pretend they are not there, it is showing these women that they are not human beings, and if I acknowledge their presence, as women forced to please men, I somehow accept it? I don't know how we put an end to slavery, but I do know that staying silent is not an option. There are many ways to spark a debate and get your points through, fear mongering and violence are the most common, and ultimately also the most ineffective. In this case, humor is a sophisticated way of detoxifying the subject. And in its own way proof that the change we want must come from us. From the street level.

Reserved for trafficking

Reserved for trafficking

Sidewalk for rent

Sidewalk for rent (link to City of Copenhagen)

Reserved Nigerians

Reserved for Nigerians

Reserved for Nigerians

Reserved for Nigerians

Reserved Lithuanians

Reserved for Lithuanians

Street art against human trafficing

Brutally honest. Street art at its best.

The Danish organisation in aid of trafficed women Hope Now.

A link to the video documenting the project.

25 October 2011

The neon lining

The descent into the dungeon has begun. The sun sets at six o'clock in the evening, sliding towards the unbearable low of four o'clock in the afternoon. And like some bizarre seasonal clockwork my counterproductive sleep pattern kicks in, robbing me of precious daylight. I was getting ready to give up on this day altogether as I passed the lakes on my way home, and like so many times before, they came to my rescue. The area surrounding the Irma neon strip is my favorite part of Copenhagen, and the neon sky have become synonymous with home to me. I know these flickering lights by heart, but every angle brings a fresh view, and for some reason I never really noticed this before.

Not this:

But this:

Neon water

Nice save, Copenhagen.


23 October 2011

BaNanna, last bite

When I spotted the extended mural behind the climbers arch in BaNanna Park, my heart skipped a beat. It is made by a group of street artists with each their style, collaborating on making this piece for the children. And as a rare sign of respect it has been left untouched since it was made in September of 2007. All of my childhood heroes are represented, plus a few that came later, advocating the right to play freely and more power to the children.

There is something about it that just leaves me soft and happy. Kaj and Andrea (frog and parrot) sucks me right in of course, but so does the abundance of color and details, Frederik (best friend of Cirkeline) stuck in the sewer, the black and white grown up's as the three monkeys, the pink bike and the Dala horse in the window. It is not just a mural to me... it's a family portrait.

The last man, not listening, is by American street artist Mac, master of photorealism.

Going from left to right:

I am distrustful of people who say they have no regrets. I regret ridding myself of my giant Dala horse once upon a flea market, sigh.

Frederik (or it could be Ingolf, I can never tell them apart), best friend of Cirkeline, the girl in the dotted dress who sleeps in a matchbox.

Fozzie, Cirkeline and Kermit. Please don't make me pick a favorite.

Not all of these guys makes my heart swell, but I still recognize them: Kylling (Chicken/half of Bamse & Kylling), Mumitrolden (Moomin), Lotte or Anna (super annoying highpitched girls, haha) and a Fraggle. I think. Sign reads: free play.

Moomin with sign that reads: more diversity. Bamse (Bear/other half of Bamse & Kylling), Snuden (the Snout) and a Fraggler in a Kaj and Andrea sandwich.

Andrea presenting the artists: redie, dnye, tiws, el mac, zone, soten and crema. 

The collaboration was masterminded by Copenhagen Cruise, and I have been trying to find out more about them, but they are a secretive bunch. From what I can gather they bring street artists together and make events and collaborations on mural work. As I was digging, I learned that the balloon girl mural widely credited to Anne Sofie Madsen is a collaboration between three artists, brought together by Copenhagen Cruise. And now my interest is seriously peaked. I have to wonder what else have they been trying to sneak by me? Copenhagen Cruise, I am on to you.

Was this good, or what?


22 October 2011

BaNanna, first bite

It would appear that every crack and corner in Copenhagen has a story to tell, unveiled at a pace set by the city itself. The biggest surprise I have had in a long time was just handed to me. On one of those days where the bike leads the way, I caught something out of the corner of my eye, looking suspiciously like a giant snake. As I approached it became clear that this was perhaps one of the coolest playgrounds in the city. In my own neighbourhood. How is it possible that we did not meet before, BaNanna Park?

The entrance, with the climbers triumphal arch:

The plot of land was rescued from a group of real estate developers, and turned into one of the areas few recreational spots. BaNanna Park was inaugurated last spring, located in Nannasgade the name is a perfect mix of the street name and the giant yellow banana stretched across the lawn:

This picture would be so much better if I was not squeamish about heights. Imagine the full banana shot from the top of the arch... wraaah, I get dizzy just thinking about it, haha.

The banana, not exactly soft, but still kind of spongy.

If it had only been a giant banana and a triumphal arch, I would have been perfectly happy, but it gets better. The second bite of the BaNanna is my favorite part, a real treat for hungry eyes...

(To be continued)

20 October 2011

Wizards of odd

It has only been a week since I declared my newfound preference for "weird" and different street art, and it is already popping up in the most unexpected places. For it to be truly weird, the medium must stand out, and it can't be about looking pretty. It is not asking for your approval, but it demands your attention and it makes you stop and think. "Moss Couture" took the place of the beautiful Miss Take piece in Westend (heartbreak), and it is not entirely pleasing to the eye. Despite that, much to my surprise I find that I appreciate it.

Moss Couture.

If you thought this was weird.. prepare for the next level:

Hahaha, why is this so good?

19 October 2011

The first move

In a perfect world the idea of us against them would not exist in traffic (or anywhere else for that matter). It would not be about steel vs. wheels, but rather about a joint effort to make things go as smooth and safe for everybody as possible. It is not really that much of a stretch, if you think about it. All it takes is a slight adjustment of our mindsets, a reminder that in the end of the day we are all the same. It is crazy to think that you can spend a perfectly pleasant day with a person, and at the end of it he gets in his car, you get on your bike, and all of a sudden you are supposed to be on opposing teams? It just doesn't make any sense.

But maybe we are seeing a change coming our way. Statoil gas station on Frederiksberg is leading the way by offering cyclists a space to nurse their bikes. You would think there were more pit stops like this in the capital of cyclists, but there are not. This is a first, and I am nothing short of impressed.

(Sign reads) Dear cyclist, here is a place to care for your bike. You can wash and pump it and in the store you are welcome to borrow a bike-kit with oil, tire levers, allen keys and more, free of charge. Enjoy.

How cool is this?


The bike care stations.

Sydhavnsplads 10, 2400 København V
Godthåbsvej 144, 2000 Frederiksberg C
H.C. Ørstedsvej 25-27, 1879 Frederiksberg C (closed)
Valby Langgade 119, 2500 Valby
Kongevejen 205, 2830 Virum

UPDATE May 2014:

The neighbor to the bike care station in the picture, complained about humidity in the basement. According to the engineer, the cause is the sewer system, but the city of Frederiksberg disregarded that assessment, and ordered the bike care station closed. Such a shame.

17 October 2011

Call of the wild

Fall is turning out to be everything summer was not, sunny and breathtakingly beautiful. The other day on my way home, the lakes demanded I made a stop on the bridge. Since they first put up three benches on the sunny side, it has been packed every night at sunset. Now we are up to fourteen benches, but a lot of people still sit on the ground, it is just a different feeling that way. On that day it was cold, but the light was special. Soft, but temperamental somehow. I stayed for half an hour to take it in and went home with frozen fingertips.

And then the sky exploded. It was like it happened in a moment, everything went pink and orange. I had to grab my camera and ride like a mad person to make it back to the bridge before it was all gone. This was all I got:

One of my favorite things about these rare orange sunsets are the way the windows on the other side of the lakes turn into burning mirrors. Crazy beautiful and near impossible to catch on camera. 

Next time I get a feeling like that, I am going to pitch a tent and camp out.

13 October 2011

Amsterdam, part two

It is weird, but raving about Amsterdam makes me feel like I am cheating on Copenhagen. Still I can't move on to my favorite city (yes, it is you Copenhagen, breathe) before showing you the last of the best. Darkness have set in here, it is glove season again and for the next six months there is not going to be enough daylight to take all the pictures I want. I may need you to remind me along the way that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 
Okay, moving on to the last of the latest. Amsterdam, part two:

Remember who you are, by Chase. 

"Yellow cab", if you can't make it, fake it. I love this so much.

This building rocks. Understated and flashy at the same time. Moving closer:

When it comes to street art I am developing a craving for something more than stenciled work. Free hand drawing is good, and three dimensional pieces like this one:

Textured street art

Weird is good.

And just so you don't get the wrong impression: the trip was not just a fairy tale, it was raining most of the time, but I am so on top of that. Lots of practice from home, remember?

Next stop: Copenhagen.