This year’s Golden Days Festival is all about B-sides. The material which is there, but it is never the first thing you look at.
Golden Days is here to teach us history. At a previous festival I ended up in the basement below the Central Library with a class full of letter writing students (yes, letters with pen and paper!). This year the surroundings are a bit more comfortable as I attend the opening party at The Royal Danish Playhouse.
I am running late from work, so I am grateful that the creative organizers have made the official start 7 minutes past, with 7 performances and 107 free beers to the first guests arriving (not me, but I’ll live 🙂 )
Luckily, I do not miss the opening speech by historian Poul Duedahl. The Associate Professor from Aalborg has just released his new book about the forgotten history, the B-sides if you will. This is about how history is created by the way that we look at society at the time and not as a factual account on what really happened. A big part of these facts will sink into common oblivion, and – as Duedahl puts it – festivals are a great opportunity to drag the real facts out into the light and scratch a little in the picture-perfect past. As with old records you might be surprised by the B-side of what you thought you knew so well.
Here is Poul Duedahl on stage, on his B-side! However, you can also meet Poul Duedahls A-side here.
Speaking of old records; who would be better at finding those and play them out loud than DJ-team Lucia Odoom & Mads Axelsen? They sure know their music history, and it is a real pleasure to listen to their pure B-side-playlist with A-side artist as The Rolling Stones and Queen. From the time when all music was recorded on records, which actually consisted of both side A and B.
Next up is a walk around the secret rooms of The Royal Playhouse. However, due to the limited space and a lot of guests at the party, only a small number of the audience get to attend, and I was not one of the lucky ones.
Instead I comfort myself with a view on the collection of forgotten porn fiction which is recently found in the archives of DR, Danish Broadcasting(!) In order not to outshame any of my fellow viewers in the very small wardrobe-area which was transformed for the event, I’ll skip the pictures from this one and just tell you that this is a laugh. More fun than erotic, since some of the movies are as old as 100 years old, all in black and white, mostly without sound and illegal at the time 🙂
If you are curious you can have a look at the content of the porn fiction from DR’s own article (in Danish).
Waiting for the next performance I take a look at the full printed programme of Golden Days. It is great work. Besides from the impressive programme itself, I also find interesting interviews, features on art and a fun short story from Nikolaj Zeuthen about the professional relationship between writers A and B.
As another fun B-act we listen to a piece of Bach, played in B major at the piano in the middle of the room.
I am a great fan of the events at the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), so I am also pleased to discover that the paintings hanging from the ceiling (with both side A and B visible) is a part of the next performance. It is quite unusual to see a painting like that, normally you would only see the front. But these Danish artists have actually been far-sighted; recycling materials ages before that becomes a trend.
This explains why Theodor Philipsen’s old drawing from his art student days back in the 1860s is cut into the shape of a punchbowl. He has needed that piece of canvas for a sketch to ceramic applied art. Side A is a piece called “Horses and cows at Hollænderbrønden at Saltholm” (1893), which is painted on the back of his old student drawing, so the canvas has actually been recycled twice.
And here is a piece by Richard Mortensen called “Woman and birds in nature” (1937). The B-side is mended by the artist himself – a bit sloppy – with a piece of linen and paper in the bottom right corner. The artist’s way to decide which side is side B.
Time for personal B-sides comes as writer Lone Aburas reads aloud from her new book “The Black Book”. But – again – way too many people for a tiny place! The spot next to the toilet makes it impossible for anyone but the front rows to hear much of Abura’s peculiar poetry on everyday life in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. It is a good thing that she does create fantastic pictures of a writer’s block, picking up children after work and religious consciousness, because my attempt to do photos in the crowded room is simply no good … also due to the fact that I am not the tallest person in the world.
To show you a part of my challenge here is a picture of the throne on which Abura sat minutes before. Imagine that long, dark and narrow place filled with people …
Finally, it is time to say goodbye. But before we all leave one of the ballet dancers from The Royal Danish Theatre shows us what to do with a chair. And not just any chair – The Egg by Arne Jacobsen. It is incredible hard work to be a ballet dancer, and that is why it is simply amazing to watch her body bend low and high over the chair for a full record (a B-side, I suppose).
This is just the beginning. If you are as much as a little interested in history, and you live near Copenhagen, I strongly recommend that you visit the Golden Days Festival. For the next 12 days there will be loads of events, not all of them are free. But some of them are (or really cheap), so go and discover yourself. You might find that golden B-side that you never knew existed, but now you cannot stop listen to it.