Hans Christian Andersen burial in Danish harbour
30 September 2011
Hans Christian Andersen burial in Danish harbour
October 8th Jens Galschiot buries a ten foot tall (3 meters) bronze sculpture worth 200.000 Euro in the Odense(DK) harbour.
The Danish artist has invited the locals to take part in the spectacular funeral of his Hans Christian Andersen sculpture. The funeral procession begins at Flakhaven (Town Hall sq.) on October 8th at 2 p.m. and proceeds to Odense harbour. After the happening the artist serves funeral beer to the grieving locals.
The great H.C.A. sculpture has actually stood in the town hall square of the city (Flakhaven) for the last 5 years where it is probably the most often photographed sculpture in Odense. Originally the sculpture was to have been part of The Storyteller's Fountain, a Hans Christian Andersen water sculpture which was to be composed of several hundreds of connected sculptures illustrating Andersen's complex fairytale universe. However this project is now suspended.
The sculpture was supposed to be an interactive sculpture around which a storyteller tradition would evolve. Therefore it was a necessary condition that the sculpture be placed in the centre of Odense, which many people, including the store owners of the inner city, were looking forward to.
A common collection committee, the city council and a local fund succeeded in raising all the money for the project. The municipality was asked to find a suitable place but then everything came to a standstill - due to the financial crisis the fund collapsed, the city council cut back on their contribution - on the other hand, in August 2011 the administration found four altogether unsuitable places far away from the centre.
The project is now suspended in agreement with of the common collection committee who believe they would let down the local donors, if they accepted a place outside the centre. Galschiot has instead decided to literally bury the sculpture.
"At one point the culture department talked about placing the sculpture by Odense harbour in order to attract tourists to the area. Now that the project is definitively suspended, I think I will comply with their wish - maybe not in the way that they had expected but on the other hand, it won’t cost them anything" says the artist with a little smile and adds: "I think it is a very suitable ending to put The Storyteller's Fountain to rest by creating a new story."
"By the way, I will exhume the sculpture again in order to take part in a small resurrection ceremony on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday April 2nd 2012. Then we can drive him to the city centre where he can gaze upon the city for a week or so, and then he will probably be reburied", concludes Galschiot who has just bought one hundred bottles of French Champagne for the resurrection. He hopes that this burial/resurrection happening will be an annual tradition in Odense.
The story of The Storyteller's Fountain is in itself a sort of modern H.C. Andersen fairytale:
** First the inhabitants collected money.
** Then the town council unanimously granted 4 million DKK and a local fund gave 2.5 million.
** Now the administrators of the city were asked to find a place for the unequalled artwork.
** Then everything was brought into a standstill for several years, while the civil servants of the city worked.
** 2 years later the financial crisis occurred, and the local fund collapsed because of speculations on the stock market, and when the clever civil servants and politicians had not yet collected the 2.5 million, the money simply disappeared .*
* But then the local authority realized that they also needed money, and so they took 3 millions from the cash box dedicated to the sculpture.
** After 4 years the civil servants had finally found some suitable locations. But! Now most of the money was lost leaving only 2 million, and the sculpture had to be decimated into being just a shadow of its former self.
** However the administrators' suggestions for the placement of the sculpture were all far, far away from the city centre, and therefore they could not honor the intentions about creating a living storyteller tradition in the centre of the city as desired from the common collection committee, the local community as well as the artist.
** Then the entire project was suspended in August 2011.
And then the artist buried the sculpture in the harbour of Odense.
For more information:
Free photos of the sculpture:
About Jens Galschiot:
Jens Galschiot, Denmark, born 1954, sculptor. He stakes his art to defend the ethical values of our society, regardless of political, religious or economic interests. His sculptures suddenly appear in public areas and start the performance. Best known are My Inner Beast (European cities in 1993) and the Pillar of Shame (Hong Kong, Mexico and Brazil).
The projects are financed, partly by individuals and organizations, but the larger part of the finances come from the sale of Galschiot's bronze sculptures to art collectors all over the world. He has a huge industrial area in Odense, Denmark with a bronze foundry, gallery and workshop.