Fjellerup i Bund & Grund (Utterly Fjellerup) took place in the depopulated town of Fjellerup, Denmark, an art project of implementing my ideas for local sites through organizing artists and hosts, drawing on transcontinental networks. At a time when my family of origin was beginning to die out, the project created a bridge between the coastal region where I grew up in Denmark, and the place I have chosen to live: NYC.
Fjellerup is a costal village, with records dating back to 1423, and a current population of around 400 people, most living "in town" and a more seasonal population by the beach. The town's primary sources of income, pound net fishing and tourism, peaked in the 1950's and 60's and gradual depopulation has resulted in parts of the place showing signs of neglect, beautiful ruins and resilient local stores. The population is homogeneous and predominantly elderly.
Through the support of Norddjurs Municipality's Kulturpuljen 2015, I was able to create my own garden project on a site of a former fishing family in Fjellerup, as well as to invite other artists to make work rooted in theme of ecology.
I chose to do an excavation around this rotting structure, a former hunting hut and playhouse of the Thomsen family. I found: a netted plastic fence & rope, large tile, partial soccer ball, small ceramic square (signed), pedestal and a dead tree.
My photograph of Fjellerup's three beekeepers, behind bee-screen. There are three beekeepers in Fjellerup: Freddy Juul and Thorbjorn & Inge Knudsen. I interviewed Freddy and Thorbjorn in Ruth's Have, to discuss their possibility of them setting up bee hives in Ruth's Have.
Text from Alyssa Casey: Vandmolekyle draws from local knowledge, experience, and hands-on, practical techniques to depict a fantastical vision of that which we take for granted. The five baskets represent the molecular orbital diagram of water. Each region of space encapsulated by a basket shows the probability of where the electrons of each atom of water are likely to be found; oxygen is at the center, two baskets represent the oxygen-hydrogen bond, and the other two represent the pairs of valence electrons responsible for water's vital properties of solvency, cohesion, and adhesion. The willow is grown by the basket weaver Inge Madsen, in Auning, and I took a two hour basket weaving workshop from her and Sonja Schultz. As I continued working at Ruth's Have, local visitors could learn the technique as well, thus creating a conduit of local knowledge and sparking new conversations.
In addition to the old Fjellerup film, we also watched Tage's video from Norbert Attard's opening of Ruinhaven (that took place as part of Fjellerup i Bund & Grund, 2013).
For the summer of 2013, I identified six Fjellerup sites and ideas, organized artists and hosting with the help of locals. In addition to making my own work, I invited artists Norbert Francis Attard, Julia Whitney Barnes, Monica Carrier, Johanna Nelson and Christine Sciulli.
I integrated archival images with my own landscapes from Fjellerup, as well as tools and scrap of my father's I found in garage when cleaning it out - and made Klara Hansen (Denmark's first female fishing exporter) walk through Fjellerup during different seasons - telling the story of her first year as a widow, with a 12 year old daughter.
Monica's large scrolls contain her ink drawings of subconscious imagery, and ornamental text, initially inspired by her travel in India. From a distance, her drawings seem like abstract patterns, but up close they reveal hundreds of detailed drawings.
For Julia Whitney Barnes, I suggested a former grocery store that had been empty for years. When I met with the owner of building, Ghita, she told me the story of having bought the building at the height of real estate prices, intending to restore it and turn it into apartments. However, the building needed a lot more work than she and her partner had anticipated, and they ran out of funds to continue the renovation. For her work, Fjellerup Flora, Julia found plants around Fjellerup, knocked on doors and asked if she could pick some, in order to trace and paint for the exterior of building. Through this process, and painting in view of all on the street, Julia came to know many of the locals. Some stopped to ask if they could help and artist-hosts pitched in when it got close to the opening date.
The rocks around Thomsens Ishus gave me the idea of ruin sculptures for Norbert Francis Attard, whom I had worked with in 2010, for my project in NY community gardens - he had told me about the oldest temple in the world, in his country, Malta. The scattered rocks in Fjellerup consist of partly collapsed buildings as well as an old dairy in town - put there by fishermen to help keep the sand in place. Norbert and I started the digging by hand and, one by one, s small team came into place. Tage found an exhausted Norbert and asked if he could help - and soon brought Hans. Asger, the host of Julia, also came to help and contacted Børge.
I had told Norbert that I was doing a "Gourmet Pop-Up" in Fjellerup, with my chef friend Helle, and this inspired Norbert to clear out that space, "free" the large rocks in front of Thomsens Ishus - and have this site be ready in time for our Gourmet Pop-Up. I've been friends with Helle, a chef, since we were teenagers and she arrived with her daughter, Emilie, and sister Merethe to help with the dinner. Another friend of ours from same period, Henriette, lives in Fjellerup seasonally, and she also was part of the Pop-Up team - along with my nephew, Tyler.
This was my first pop-up collaboration with Helle and I specifically wanted it to be a gourmet experience - to contrast with the fried food currently served on the beach. Helle prepared several cold courses, setting up in the tiny room behind the open doorway. If necessary, guests were allowed to go across the road and use Ruth's restroom. Vibeke Nilars and husband Erik made new hooks for the rack to the right, and Erik also helped Norbert with one the sculptures along the path.
I presented the idea of doing work on this path to Jo Q. Nelson, who was interested in combining site with something to do with sandcastles. I had to get permission to use the path, and when I contacted Michael Iuel - owner of path and local castle - he was brief but affirmative on the phone: "I do not foresee any problem with you doing this art project, as long as there is does not involve any loud sounds that scare the game."
For the opening, we invited all to meet at the Fjellerup entrance of path; Steen Lassen introduced Michael Iuel who cut the red ribbon - with a scissor Tage brought in a haste, as we had not thought of it. Iuel duly noted it wasn't a gold scissor, and in his speech mentioned how the partial sandcastle reminded him of the big fire at the castle, a few years prior, and also commented on how he had learned about local history from Jo's research.
I met Christine Sciulli when we were both exhibiting at Edward Hopper House, where she did an indoor projection onto branches. This made me wonder about Christine doing an outdoor projection in Fjellerup, and I suggested Thomsens Ishus.