The value of self-organizing

Anja Franke curated the alternative art festival in Copenhagen and thinks many groups could learn from self-organized initiatives.

Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio, Strawberry Flag (Independence Eve Stationary Parade), 2010.

For the sixth consecutive year the alternative art fair Alt_cph opened in Copenhagen’s Fabrikken for kunst og design (The Factory of Art & Design—an old factory that houses a large number of studios). The festival, which began Friday, September 16, and ended on the 18th, was characterized by a focus on self-organized institutions and platforms. It was curated this year by artist Anje Franke, who has much experience with self-organized institutions from the 1990s’ Max Mundus to the present Instant Herlev Institute, which across the past six years has arranged ambitious shows in the suburb of Herlev—both in public spaces and in Franke’s private parcel-house and garden.

This year’s festival revolved around the theme of “Encounters”—which is perhaps a more precise description of what actually happens at Alt_cph, which is not a commercial festival. Instead it concentrates on experiencing art and building networks.

“In reality all concerns in Denmark ought to meet at Alt_cph and learn something about these alternative methods of organizing and communicating. Many self-organized initiatives embody a value that other elements of society might learn from. These initiatives aren’t projects that can be hurt by a financial crisis or stopped. It is a distinctive way of life and style of organization with its own completely different point of departure,” says Anje Franke to Kunstkritikk.

This year the festival had participants not only from Nordic countries (N55, Det fynske kunstakademi [Funen Art Academy], Mustarinda, Koh-i-noor, Kultivator, The New Beauty Council, and others) but also from New York and Chicago—as well as Los Angeles, which has its own special tradition of self-organizing institutions such as Metabolic Studio, which holds forth under a freeway in L.A. and works at the junction of art and sustainability in the form of planting, water reservoirs, etc. In Copenhagen Metabolic Studio entered the parade Strawberry Flag on Opening Day. Alt_cph also offered an extensive program of performance and talks.

During the same weekend the more traditional art festival Art Copenhagen also took place in the Forum in Frederiksberg.

Translation from the Danish by Richard Simpson.