Mapping the city

Copenhagen, research


One of my focuses during the residency was deep mapping. After finishing a book on the subject, I drifted away from it. But Trevor brought another book to the studio. Annette Skov is an artist from Herning, in the Jutland peninsula. In 2011, she founded Copenhagen’s first heath with heather and seeds from Borris Heath, which she installed on 100 square meters at Refshaleøen. Nowadays, inland heaths are only found in Jutland. Heather did not sprout in Refshaleøen, but Wëod – Da. Ugræs recalls the first year of a journey that involved many people and beings. I had the chance to meet Annette, and here are some quotes from her book I’d like to remember.

The heather can self-ignite. Or the seeds can turn so hot that they burn out, leaving them with nothing to sprout from (pg 39).

“The lust for landscape knows no boundaries” she says. And she encourages students to spend time investigating a place in a way that they feel inspired to (pg 40).

My mother received Colour Flora – Wild Nordic Plants from my father on the 23rd of February 1975. Now it’s mine (pg 66).

Every plant’s name opens up a new world (pg 72).

Everything exists to end up in a book (Mallarmé quoted on pg 100).

In 1967, the American artist Robert Smithson wrote: ‘Site selection study’ in terms of art is just beginning. The investigation of a specific site is a matter of extracting concepts out of existing sense-data through direct perceptions. Perception is prior to conception, when it comes to site selection or definition. One does not impose, but rather exposes the site – be it interior or exterior. Interiors may be treated as exteriors or vice versa. The unknown areas of sites can be best explored by artists (pg 157).

Xenogamy (pg 244): In Greek, a strange wedding. Biologists use the term for cross-pollination; the transfer of pollen grains from the flower of one plant to the stigma of the flower of another plant – the opposite of autogamy.

Zissania is the Italian word for weed and a symbol of separation (pg 252).

What is weed, really? The German word Unkrant means “non-herb”. In old Danish it’s “ugræs” non-grass. They are plants that grow where they are not supposed to grow. Unwanted, wild plants grow e.g. in a garden or in a a field. Inconvenient plants. But how do plants attain an access pass? Do they have to be beautiful, controllable, possible to trim, recognised? Deliver visual confirmation? And cause nodding approvals? They exist. Perhaps it’s enough that they exist like a piece in an ingenious ecosystem. They are. And they don’t care what kind of measuring standard we use on them (pg?).

Back in Helsinki, I led a small workshop on Kuninkaansaari Island with Stephen James Webb. As I walked around to figure out what to do, I began to spot heather everywhere. Heather is associated with protection, rain, and luck.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

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