At the International Council of Museums – Conservation Committee (ICOM-CC) Triennial conference in Copenhagen (4th – 8th September 2017) I visited the Roskilde Cathedral.
It was an unexpected wonderful experience. Having endeavored on my career path over 20 years ago, I not only left my home, family, community and country-but also neglected various practices and relationships while learning new practices and making new encounters with places and people.
The visit to Roskilde Cathedral, when I entered the space, triggered a swell of memories flooding back, bringing with them my younger self and kick starting some serious self reflection of some sort.
I guess World and personal events over the last 2 years caused a decrease in certainties while simulatneously increasing the level and nature of uncertainty in many aspects of my life. Everything seems to be in Flux – or my senses have become hightened in perceiving the dynamics rather than their momentary tangible expression. And by experiencing all these pushs and pulls, in addition to the continuously ‘bombardment of information, news, and statistics’ of 24 hour communication media commentary – my head starts to slightly spin.
Entering the Cathedral as a visitor to the place as part of a technical tour, I was curious to see the Architecture and the Interior of this UNESCO World heritage monument.
Being somewhat bewildered by the Scandinavian understated yet stylish perfection of design, in the form of a ‘headset’, with which I could listen to the tour guides information and stories via a ‘bluetooth or alike’ microphone, I started to look helplessly around (to get confirmation I wasn’t the only Technosaurus with this headpiece)… and got immediately distracted by the tall and light architecture of the nave of the building, white walls against the red brick structure and the most subtle yet vivid decorative wall/ ceiling paintings:
And from then on I wandered in awe of the place and space, and I am sorry to admit I completely tuned out of the information being delivered into my ear canals, even though I finally managed to get to grips with the headset (and its 7 channels!).
The space became a platform for contemplation on many of the events and people in my life, past and present. It didn’t solve my problems but it silenced the noise from the bigger World and made me listen inwards.
I didn’t quite expect this reaction.
Rather than viewing and admiring the objects, structures, stones and paint as creations of art, I felt the space as an experience of ‘Art at work’ in this ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, for it made me think freely.
Needless to say I can only recommend to visit this place if you are open to experiencing churches as Interiors, Installation Art, Concept Art, and in the past contemporary Performance Art. With it being the last resting place for Denmark’s Kings and Queens, there are a lot of stories of power, wealth, beliefs, tragedy, politics, and human drama hidden in those monuments and spaces, and I would recommend to either have a booklet about the Cathedral or a tour guide. ..the tour guide, however, comes with a tricky piece of technological gadgetry!