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 and 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.

June, 2015: Ruth's Have/Ruth's Garden

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.

En Værdig Afsked/ A Worthy Farewell
Found objects (inside house and via digging around house), bee hives, photograph.

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.

I stacked boxes of beehives next to my excavation, lent to me by Ivan Nielsen, Himmerland beekeeper and a prominent queen breeder.

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.

Opening: June 28, 2015

Opening of Ruth's Have, with a speech by mayor, Jan Petersen, recorded by Vidar Håkon Utvik

Alyssa Casey: Water Molecule
Alyssa Casey learning to weave with willow, in a two hour workshop by local weavers Sonja Schultz and Inge Madsen, in Auning.
Pileflet/willow weaving
Circa 4 x 4 x 4 meter.

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.

John Henry, Room With a View
Wood, gold paint.

Potlucks every Thursday, this one featuring talk by Anne Mette Laursen, Project Manager of Wadden Tide festival.

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).

Visit from Bifrost (developmentally disabled artists from Randers) and conversation with local vicar, Michael Piilgaard, on art and ecology.

Strandkroen, cafe room

For Fjellerup i Bund & Grund 2014, I proposed two potlucks to the manager of Strandkroen, "The Beach Tavern," to go with artwork by Alyssa Casey.

Strandkroen, Winter Pop-Up
January, 2014
My second Fjellerup pop-up dinner with chef Helle Alexandersen - guests being mainly Fjellerup locals as well as old neighbors, family and friends from "folkeskole" and "gymnasium" - whom I found via signing up for Facebook, late 2013.
Alyssa Casey: Fjellerup Strand (detail)
Wall drawing

Alyssa's paper rectangles, made of seaweed.

Helle & Team in Knud Peter's kitchen. Helle was in charge of food expenses and collected money from guests after the dinner. Guests ordered their drinks directly from Knud Peter.
photo by Alyssa Casey

Some of my invisible work for Fjellerup i Bund & Grund: ideas, organizing, getting permissions, negotiating, hosting, curating & cleaning.

Strandkroen, large hall, Summer Pop-Up
July, 2014
Artwork on interior walls: Michael Wilson
Alyssa Casey: Strandkroen Palimpsest
Wall Piece

Standkroen has gone through numerous owners since it stopped functioning as a place for Fjellerup fisheries, and Alyssa integrated the various layers of history of the wall for her wall piece, as in the former letters for "Pizzeria."

July, 2014
Alyssa Casey preparing outside wall of Strandkroen.
Alyssa Casey: Strandkroen Palimpsest

Referencing the US/Danish link, Alyssa chose the “Abrams Venetian” font, designed by American typographer George Abrams and donated to the then Printer of the Royal Danish Court, Poul Kristensen.

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.

Site1: family garage
Opening: July 14th, 2013


Klaras Skygger/Klara's Shadows

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.



I placed the last public image of Klara - announcing her retirement in the early 1960's - on top of images of a flounder adapting its exterior to various backgrounds in order to survive. The flounder is the fish, I associate with Fjellerup, and Klara sits on a rock in the image like a rotund Fjellerup version of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. By the time of Klara's retirement, pound net fishing had already declined drastically.

My weather-proof runner, leading visitors to garage and daily conversations about Klara and Fjellerup.


Local stores provided food vouchers for the visiting artists and we also got a lot of invitations from locals. At the dinner hosted by Aase and Troels Kvorning, full time potters, I learned that they both speak Swahili.

Left: Troels. Right: Julia and Jo (front.)

Site 2: barn of local artists/social workers, Vibeke Gilling and Tommy Sørensen.
Work by Monica Carrier, The Muse Within
Opening: July 21, 2013

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.

Monica's collaborative drawing room: one to one conversations with participants, as they blot a sheet of paper with ink. Afterward, Monica finished the drawing, finding the muse(s) within.
Site 3: empty storefront

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.

Opening of Julia's Fjellerup Flora
July 28th, 2013
For Julia's opening, Bent Sølyst invited Bertel Haarder - a national politician with Fjellerup ties as it's his wife's birthplace - to introduce Julia. In his speech, Haarder envisioned the buildings of the whole street continuing to be decorated by artists.
Site 4: Thomsens Ishus
Norbert Attard: Ruinhaven
Norbert, Nathan (Monica's husband) and me photographed by Julia Whitney Barnes

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.

While much of the work for Norbert's project could be done by hand, I also contacted Ole Willesen - with whom I had started my initial conversation about doing an art project in Fjellerup - to see if he would volunteer his skill and machinery for heavy work.


Preparing for Gourmet Pop-Up, borrowing Ruth's table tops and chairs (same day as Julia's opening).

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.

Pop-Up dinner, July 28th, 2013

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.

Opening of Ruinhaven: August 3, 2020

Regional mayor, Jan Petersen, introducing Norbert and his work.


Norbert Attard: picnic table, the Oracle


Site 5: Fjellerup-Bønnerup 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."

Fjellerup host Franz welcoming Jo Q. Nelson

Frants in doorway, ready to greet Jo, whom I had just picked up at the bus station in Aarhus. Frantz and Bodil hosted Jo, and they are owners of the former inn in Fjellerup, that they turned into a B & B, as well as their own pottery and printer studios.

Opening: August 4, 2013

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.

Jo's partial sandcastle, modeled on Meilgaard Gods, with the ceramic tiles she'd made in Bodil's studio.
Jo's ox-drawn kneading installation, on the site that previously housed an 18th century mill.
Site 6: Thomsens Ishus
Christine Sciulli: Thomsens Ishus
Practice night 1

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.


Practice night 2
my image of opening night, August 8, 2013
2014
Presenting Fjellerup i Bund & Grund with Julia Whitney Barnes, Monica Carrier, Alyssa Casey and Jo Q. Nelson.
2014

My essay for the online blog and book (published 2015) of Open Engagement, using Fjellerup project as an example to answer the question: Who Determines What Is Beneficial?

2013

For National Women's Study Conference in 2013, I presented my work on Fjellerup's Klara Hansen within the theory of Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist.