I am soon to be assigned to a guest house in Copenhagen by the remarkable New Life Copenhagen art project. For five days people I don’t know, who don’t know me, will put me up durng my stay in Copenhagen.
Everything I hear from them, while I wait, makes me more and more admiring of this enterprise.
The Danes feel they have a reputation for being an unhospitable place. New Life Copenhagen has decided to turn this reputation on its head with a phenomenal act of generosity, opening the doors of their homes to 3,000 activists, NGO workers and delegates who are arriving in Denmark over the coming weeks to attend the pivotal COP15 conference. It’s a spirit of openness you can only hoped will be matched by the governmental delegates.
In this act alone, Woloo.org’s Sixten Kai Nielsen and Martin Rosengaard, who created New Life Copenhagen may have already created the most significant artwork to align itself with the COP15 process:
The explain themselves: Instead of inviting artists to contribute art for a traditional museum exhibition, we have chosen to utilize hospitality and the human encounter as an exhibition platform. The purpose of the festival is to create a breeding ground for alternative ways of living together. Individual solutions are not enough. In order to stop climate changes, we have to rethink our way of life collectively.
The artists Superflex, Signa and Marisa Olson are also creating work as part of New Life Copenhagen. Olson will host a live event at Copenhagen’s City Square, Signa are going to produce a guest book in which we can all evaluate each others’ lifestyles, and Superflex are going to ask all of us to commit to a climate-friendly burial in the case that we die during our visit to Copenhagen.
Which is one of those committments I kind of hope I’m not going to have to live up to.
The first ecoartspace live concert and fundraiser took place this past Saturday. Singer/songwriter Dar Williams gave a solo acoustic guitar concert at the McKenna Theater at the SUNY New Paltz campus – it was a thrilling evening and the audience gave Dar a very welcome reception, they were all big fans. See Dar’s blog post on the event HERE.
The concert coincided with a museum exhibition titled Ecotones and Transition Zonesat the Dorsky Museum, housed in the same building with the McKenna Theater. Museum curator Brian Wallace describes the exhibition in this way, “New Paltz is an ecotone, a place where overlapping natural and social ecologies—the river and the mountains, the cosmopolitan and the rural—exist in a fragile tension. The artworks and art historical narratives associated with this region suggest the great opportunities (and responsibilities) that area artists, residents, and visitors have to visualize and act upon opportunities to contribute to a better world.” Themuseum stayed open late that evening so that concert goers could stroll through the galleries before the show, it was a successful crossover event.
Included in the exhibition is a work by Simon Draper’s Collective, Habitat for Artists(or HFA, which recently had an exhibition at the ecoartspace NYC project room). The Collective includes 15 artists -give or take- as the number changes with each project. There are 3 Habitats currently installed in New Paltz, one on campus, one on Main Street and the third (and most beautiful site IMHO) at Historic Hugenot Street. All of the Habitats have artist residency projects on-going for the duration of the exhibition.
Dar Williams was one of the original HFA membersfrom the first exhibition last summer in Beacon, NY, where she turned her own Habitat into a writing space. She became interested in the bigger picture cause behind the HFA with her interest in recycling, sustainability, and artist’s need for space, and decided to give this benefit concert to help ecoartspace and HFA’s work continue.
The concert lasted for 2 hours with an opening act by Nick Panasevich who played some cool Randy Newman-esque piano tunes and also a guitar piece. Dar sang for an hour and a half, one great song after the next. Her set list included (The Ocean, The Beauty of the Rain, Spring Street, Midnight Radio, Book of Love, Buzzer, Iowa, The Babysitter’s Here, You Are Everyone, Holly Tree), and my personal favorites, Mercy of the Fallen and Hudson, (see complete Hudson lyrics BELOW). Dar is one of those gifted musicians with a beautiful voice, moving lyrics, well crafted songs, great guitar playing AND a huge generous spirit. It was a privilege to work with her.
If we’re lucky we feel our livesknow when the next scene arrivesso often we start in the middle and work our way outwe go to some grey sky diner for eggs and toastNew York Times or the New York Postthen we take a ride through the valley of the shadow of deathbut even for us New Yorkers, there’s a time in every daythe river takes our breath awayAnd the Hudson, it holds the lifewe thought we did it on our ownThe river roads collect the tollsfor the passage of our soulsthrough silence, over woods, through flowers and snowand past the George Washington Bridge,down from the trails of Breakneck Ridge,the river’s ancient path is sacred and slowAnd as it swings through Harlem,it’s every shade of blueinto the city of the new brand newAnd the Hudson, it holds the lifewe thought we did it on our ownI thought I had no sense of place or pasttime was too slow, but then too fastthe river takes us home at lastWhere and when does the memory take hold,mountain range in the Autumn coldand I thought West Point was Camelot in the spring.If you’re lucky you’ll find something that reflects you,helps you feel your life protects you,cradles you and connects you to everything.This whole life I remember as they begged them to itselfnever turn me into someone elseAnd the Hudson, it holds the lifewe thought we did it on our ownAnd the Hudson, holds the lifewe thought we did it on our own.