(and what I learned there)
Three weeks have come and gone, and I am lovingly saying goodbye to my time in Copenhagen. I am grateful for my time in the city and ready to share my must-do list of places with you all!
Reffen and the Copenhagen Photo Festival
Tine Bek is a Danish photographic artist, who is known for her defiance of hierarchical structures and traditional art forms. Her work was recently featured at the Copenhagen Photo Festival, where I encountered her piece “The Vulgarity of Being Three Dimensional”. Here, she quotes Isabella Rose Celeste Davey, stating:
“Vulgarity, from the Latin term vulgus, was the term for common people, an insinuation of the ordinary. We consider the vulgar to be crude, below our station, brash, crass, rough — terms that are charged with ill interest, with gall, with remorse. What if vulgar was not a bad thing at all, merely a removal of a mask. The slipperiness of expectation slipping away?”
In my opinion, vulgar is one of the most visceral terms in the English language. A word that stings like the punch of an apple cider vinegar shot. Yet, Bek forced me to reconsider my stance. In a world draped with societal meaning and expectation, her piece felt almost like an invitation, an opportunity to be ordinary and bold. Unapologetically myself.
Studying in Copenhagen has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to be vulnerable to my peers and professors. I have learned to rely more on my friends and embrace the “vulgarity” of being young and inexperienced. To soak in each moment and not pretend to have the answers. It is so nice to have the privilege to slowly grow to love a culture and place.
In other words, the Copenhagen Photo Festival and Reffen, a nearby food venue with lots of local vendors, are must-stops for your summer experience. The photo festival closes just in time to grab some dinner and watch the sunset over the water with friends. It is a sublime end to any day!
Glyptotek and Thorvaldsen
The Glyptotek is a museum known for its center garden and rooftop terrace that overlooks Tivoli (the third oldest amusement park in the world). It is home to artwork from antiquity to the modern era and is a wonderful way to spend a rainy day. To add to the history, the plants in the center of the museum have survived for over one hundred years. The Thorvaldsen Museum boasts a similar array of mostly neoclassical sculptures, each telling a unique story. Cupids, people falling in love, controversy, war, horses. Human stories and myth.
Within the beauty of century-old plants and artwork, I was reminded to create things that will outlast me and to remember future generations. The museums were a beautiful place to reflect on my values and a way to learn from people who lived hundreds of years ago. In a way, it was comforting to see some of the same motifs present in the works as those present in my own life. It was also inspiring to see the works of artists and trailblazers like Suzanne Valadon. Ultimately, the art was both reassuring and encouraging, a stellar combo for homesick students.
Freetown Christiana is a community known for its resistance and innovation. The neighborhood is the only place in Denmark where cannabis products can be used freely and is home to blocks full of street art. Lots of innovations, such as the Christiana bike, originated in this part of Copenhagen. It is a distinct change of pace from the city and a way to explore Danish counterculture. Taking a walk through the streets and exploring the shops is a fun and thought-provoking afternoon activity. For me, it was interesting to reflect on how decriminalization can improve public health and the importance of community support in building more equitable societies.
We all know that Denmark was a monarchy for hundreds of years, and the remnants of that system are not to be missed. From cosplaying as a royal to critically analyzing the role of the royals in Danish society today, it is important to go to (at least one) castle. Rosenborg Slot is located in the center of the city relatively close to the DIS classrooms and Student Hub. You can stroll through the gardens, see the ducks, and marvel at the castle exterior for free.
For me, it was interesting to learn about the transition of Danish society from a deeply inequitable monarchial system to a socially conscious welfare state. In many ways, it shows the capability states have to re-prioritize and adjust to societal needs. It was also an incredible look into a piece of history and a fun weekend plan. 🙂
Home Decor Stores
This one doesn’t have a deep meaning or message. I simply enjoy home decor, and Copenhagen is bursting with cute candles, pillows, and little trinkets. Personally, I was a fan of HAY House for their funky candles and Studio Arhoj for their lovely ceramic figurines. Sometimes, I do not need to think about the deeper meaning of things. Instead, I want to stare at random pieces of pottery with faces painted on them and daydream about Scandinavian summers and good friends.
See you in Stockholm! 🙂