Berit Nørgaard (DK)

Berit Nørgaard has invited the inhabitants of Ålekistevej to organize exhibitions in their windows facing the street. The participants decide for themselves how to arrange the decorations.

How yould you describe your project?

Berit Nørgaard The project EYE-CATCHER proposes an action, which is already possible. The idea is that the inhabitants use their windowsills as a place to arrange an exhibition for the passers by. The windowsills permit you to say something about yourself, but what exactly is op the individual tenant.  Certain tenants of Ålekistevej receive a written invitation by mail and, via the local newspaper, the rest of the population of Vanløse is urged to contribute with homemade window exhibitions. Creating such an exhibition is, of course, possible for anyone who owns a window facing the street. The window separates private from public space.  There are many things you are not allowed to do in public space but no one can interfere with what you display in your own window. Thus, it is an interesting space yet left undeveloped.

Why did you choose this exact project for this specific place?

BN As an artist, I take the social potential of everyday life as my point of departure. The project EYE-CATCHER was inspired by Ålekistevej as a context. I noticed that in this specific street some of the shops’ window exhibitions are quite entertaining. Several of the exhibitions have a ‘do-it-yourself’-character, which, to me, demonstrates a personal commitment from the decorator. EYE-CATCHERwas conceived as a way of paying the street special attention – a playful decoration created by the inhabitants with a style according to individual wishes.

Afterwards, how do you decide whether the project was a success or not?

BN There are different ways of seeing and experiencing the project. The tenants who choose to participate and produce something of their own experience EYE-CATCHER from one perspective. The ones strolling down Ålekistevej and experiencing the exhibitions in the windows, however, have a different experience. And then, there is the written invitation to participate in the project and the thoughts such a distributed letter creates in the minds of the invitees. Of course I am happy when some of the invited inhabitants choose to do something about their windows. But it is not a measure of success that the entire street be decorated. It would be fantastic if it happened but it is at least as important to create a general awareness of the project’s existence and to give the inhabitants and the visitors in the area a different experience of Ålekistevej. EYE-CATCHER is an experiment and as such it holds the risk that no one participates. It demands a certain commitment and active participation and, of course, it is crucial to hit upon people who want this. Incidentally, the project offers the participators the lottery prize of a window cleaning. But I consider the main prize to be the active participation in the creation in a local mood, influencing one’s local environment and maybe even having fun at the same time.

You also renounce parts of the role of artist and suggest that everyone is creative?

BN I consider social relations the most fundamental of our existence and would even dare to suggest that without ties to other people, we do not exist. In my practice, I want to take the social potential of everyday life as my point of departure, i.e., work with what it means to be inclusive and thereby attempt to connect people who would otherwise never have noticed each other. My artistic practice is based on the involvement of the spectators, making them active participants. The idea is to pose a framework that creates meaning. The framework is filled with the participants’ own content, which, again, makes the project grow. Under the participants’ influence, there are developments that I neither can nor want to control. The framework I pose takes a problem or potential as its point of departure and by filling the framework with their personality, the participants influence the final result with their input. In my practice, I seek to share authorship with all the brave and inspiring people who choose to play along. Each participant’s ideas add colour to the project. I neither can nor want to work alone.

So art can play an important role far away from the museum, in society?

BN I once started working in the social field because I felt estranged from the notion that art should stand apart and not be part of “everything else”. I want to create art that appears as a relevant part of everyday life because everyday life concerns us all.

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