The Trekroner Art Plan Project is the realisation of a brief, written by the artist and curator Kerstin Bergendal in 2001. Her text was a response to a commission from The Danish National Arts Foundation earlier the same year, asking for definitions of “ways in which visual art could contribute to add a sense of local identity” to a new urban area. The required form for the response pre-defined in the commission as the “operational plan”, and a future urban area outside of Roskilde in Denmark – Trekroner, was given as a point of departure – hence the title of the project.
The Trekroner Art Plan however, is not a plan. Instead, Kerstin Bergendal proposed three different strategies, each with its proper focus, to be implemented simultaneously and intertwined over a period of twelve years. From three different angles, they would re-enter into planning, what normally is lost through traditional planning – i.e. the organic growth of the unplanned, and the bottom-up engagement from the new inhabitants.
The first strategy of the plan concerns the addition of points/ zones of physical difference. One of the faculties of visual arts is the reading of a physical space, and the production of an addition to it. The Art Plan proposes that to invite visual artists to collaborate with planners, architects and landscape architects at a stage where plans, positions and sizes of the settlements are not yet final. Today this might seem normal, but at the time, no early stages of urban planning in Denmark implied integrating the knowledge of artists. In the Art Plan artists are not however expected to produce a singular work of art, but rather to distort plans by implementing his or hers experience from the making of visual art. Collaborations later realised, have shown that artists have added altered form, altered use or just complexity to the otherwise ultra rational suburb buildings, spaces and passages. When empty in between use, these additions acts a “locus” to the otherwise standardized entity – as the distinct physical point of orientation. But according to the brief, this particularity has its own role to play, as the heterotopous of the new urban area – a zone with such blurred identity that it stays for the unplanned, for the temporary artworks, the visiting plays, the public event or just a game of football a sunny day. And with time this specific blurred identity and the multilayered use in combination ensures a possibility to cultivate traditions proper to the local area.
Since the beginning of 2002, the Trekroner Art Plan Project has initiated 15 collaborations, (listed below) of which 11 have been realised. The financial crisis temporarily halted the building activity in Trekroner, and two bankruptcies finally stopped some of the projects at a late stage.
The second strategy emphasizes temporary artworks in relation to new urban areas. This strategy ensures the above-mentioned use of the “locus”. Artists are invited to elaborate / display / perform a work of art intended specifically for temporary appearance only. But one single obligatory preset is required for these artworks; Each work has to relate to / comment / react to the specific local area –Trekroner – one way or the other. For this reason, the temporary artworks might appear relevant to the inhabitants as well as to the planners, as they stand as a comment of sorts about them selves, and their choices concerning the new urban area. This second strategy could be understood as a planned cultivation of a local public discourse, rarely included in traditional planning of new urban areas. During the ten years Trekroner Art Plan has, in addition to temporary artworks, arranged seminars, meetings, a museum exhibition, one-day activities such as soup meetings, workshops and guided tours. Spread over the time frame of twelve years, this have had a range of secondary effects upon plans and social networks in the area, and has engaged planners, politicians and inhabitants in a continuous reflection upon what Trekroner is. And most of all – what it could become.
The third strategy concerns a continuous digital collection of local memories.
The Memory Box is the idea of a collection of digital memories combined with a new kind of user driven public institution, open twenty-four hours a day, placed at a point in Trekroner at which there is a natural view over the area. By implementing randomness as its basic condition on all levels, The Memory Box would constantly renew its story about the local area from 2002 onwards.
During the coarse of the Trekroner Art Plan Project Kerstin Bergendal has collected images from the area, visited and documented the homes of inhabitants, and collected plans from planners and architects. Her model collection was presented in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003, and since 2008 the inhabitants themselves have collected new material. The entity is to be presented in a public projection in Easter 2011.
Main participants: Artists, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, schools, university, museums, politicians, local papers, local residents.
Commissioned artists to date: Kerstin Bergendal, Freddy Fræk, Peter Holst Henckel, Nils Norman, Ane Mette Ruge, Frans Jacobi, Jakob Jakobsen, Marianne Jørgensen, Jørgen Carlo Larsen, Katya Sander, Sarkis and Jonas Maria Schül
Number of artistic commissions to date: fourteen semi-permanent interventions realised alongside an ongoing programme of temporary events, seminars and resident-based workshops.
structure and financing
18.5 Mio € (EU=11 Mio. + goverment=7,5 Mio.)
Main Sponsor/Initiator: Municipality of Roskilde
The realisation of the brief was initiated by Roskilde Municipality in 2002 with an initial 12-year timeframe, and has been ongoing for all 10 years. The three strategies have however not been equally realised as stated in the brief. But piece-by-piece all three are integrated in the current urban development. The level of activity has also varied with the different stages of the urban development. During the first 5-6 years there were but few inhabitants, but projects dealing with planning issues and production of physical space was then in focus. In 2006, the Municipality was merged with two other municipalities and the Strategic Planning Department suddenly was shut down, along with all funding and plans for art. But the project was reopened about half a year later, and has since mostly focussed on mounting and nursing a range of activities engaging residents, and arranging bottom-up negotiations between the Municipality and the Trekroner residents, This process has resulted in a concrete counter-plan, correcting the master plan of 1999, concerning the reorganisation of the central lake area and its surroundings. Most of this plan has been realised in 2009-2011.
Specific for the organization of the Trekroner Art Plan Project, is how it operates from the two sides of a border – both from within and from the outside of the Municipality.
The project is conceived as a municipal strategy. It is realized through a municipal political decision, as an integrated part of a planned urban development. The Municipality invited Kerstin Bergendal in 2001, to head the realization of her brief. From this point in 2001 to 2007, when Roskilde fused with two other smaller cities in, the Trekroner Art Plan Project was linked to a trans-professional group of civil servants from different municipal administrations, led by the visionary planner Peter Schultz Joergensen at the Strategic Planning Department of Roskilde City. Seen from these facts, the project is a municipal project.
But from within the municipality staff and politicians outside of the trans-professional group, the Trekroner Art Plan Project has however not been regarded as municipal. To most of its civil servants, it is and always will be an external organizational structure. Therefore it has never automatically been included in normal collaborative procedures within the Municipality. In the eyes of the politicians in Roskilde, the Art Plan Project was a child of the Danish Arts Foundation, and for this reason never was granted its proper municipal funding for a realization in full scale. It has always been the expectation, that the project would find this funding from funding bodies within the art world.
But in the eyes of the traditional Danish art funding institutions, the realization of the Trekroner Art Plan Project has all the time been perceived as a purely municipal initiative. And therefore logically funded by the Municipality it self. These bodies have only granted support for the bridge by the British artist Nils Norman, and for a large exhibition about the project in the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Roskilde in 2003
This organizational homelessness offers the Art Plan Project both advantages and disadvantages. The primary disadvantage of course is the lack of funding of the project. Apart from the yearly honorarium to Kerstin Bergendal, the Trekroner Art Plan Project has been realised one part at a time through an obligatory municipal claim in relation to sales of each new settlement – about 1 percent of building costs, and a little funding from the Municipality to the temporary activities. No proper office, no assistants, material costs or even funding for a homepage.
But it can be an advantage to be homeless, when it comes to the operational radius. Operating from within a municipal structure, with access to plans, decision-makers and municipal rights to act and speak, but free of the limitations of many Municipal rules and proceedings, opens for an identity of platform for experiments and trans-professional collaborations concerning cracks and failures in the planning. The members of the Art Plan Group turned to be immensely important during the initial process. They acted as “translators” and road finders, mediating the different art projects to their colleagues on the inside of the Municipality, and translated the intentions and the decision-making procedures from within “the municipal system” back to Kerstin Bergendal who in turn could mediate between artists, municipal system and the builders involved. Over time the loopholes of the municipal machine was excavated – the Art Plan Group and the artists appointed possible work-zones, and proposed and integrated untraditional solutions into the planning. Focus often was on the cracks that inevitably open in the planning and development of any urban area.
Over time and along with the number of actually realized part projects, The Trekroner Art Plan Project has been recognized by the art scene in Denmark as a free agent, and by the Municipality of Roskilde as a nomadic actor and negotiator between the residents and the municipality.
In 2011 the urban expansion of Trekroner is almost halted, with only one or two new lots in sales negotiation. The expansion of the University of Trekroner is about to be concluded with a new college building. The interest for an art plan within the Municipality is reduced consequently. In addition, due to the major changes within the Municipality following a fusion in 2005-6 of Roskilde and two minor neighbouring cities, the constant change of the administrative leader in charge of the project has meant having to re-convince him or her about the concept. This has been possible only due to the planner Peter Schultz Jørgensen, who has coordinated the project with the Municipality since the start in 2001. But during the financial crisis the government demanded a reduction of public spending in municipalities. A broad range of staff were let go, among them Peter.
The current situation of the project therefore is uncertain. However, the ongoing projects are to be concluded, among them Kerstin Bergendal and the residents from BMX-track will conclude their joint project in Easter 2011, with a larger public event. If the story of the project repeats itself, this can still open up for an unplanned continuation
LPT-Interview: Kerstin Bergendal
Jan Bille: a district of complexity