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Welcome Speech at Radical bridges ༄ Stories of the Sea

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Bio

Svartlöga is a sailing ship that functions as both an exhibition and community platform across the art world and the maritime community. It is run by a voluntary association invested in the renovation of the boat through the running of an experimental platform for contemporary art called OXER.

Welcome Speech

The following speech was read by Hosting Lands curator Aziza Harmel, as part of the invitation and introduction to the 'Radical bridges ༄ Stories of the Sea' gathering. The gathering was cohosted between Oxer and Hosting Lands, and this was read as part of the welcoming festivities at the Svartlöga ship, on May 16th 2024.

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"Dear all,

Thank you for all being here today with us and hopefully you will join us throughout the whole gathering.We are humbled to be here in Grenå as both this harbor’s guests and as co-hosts for the festivities with Oxer.

We are welcoming you as the hosts of Hosting Lands - an exhibition project which is scattered and has several homes across Denmark - one of them is Svartlöga, the ship we're gathering around with you today! We would like to thank the whole community around this boat for welcoming us and for all the amazing and hard work and the kindness making what is taking place today possible. And we want to take the opportunity to express how much we admire the work you do around the ship and your community.

We’re honored to be a part of this celebration that manifests a new chapter of Svartlöga and OXER - as a cultural platform in this harbor! It also marks the first big gathering and public situation in our exhibition project Hosting Lands.

Allow us to introduce ourselves:

We are the self-organized curatorial collective Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology (Ida Bencke, Dea Antonsen, Thea Møller Jensen) and the independent curators Pujita Guha and Aziza Harmel and together we are curating a three year exhibition project tilted 'Hosting Lands'. This is an alternative art project, with the intent of 'hacking' art funding in order to set up long-lasting infrastructures for different community. We are also interested to supported projects on land care, as well as facilitate collaborations with a focus on environmental and social justice across our sites/artists in Denmark and elsewhere.

Hosting Lands is a scattered, slow pace exhibition project about land care, community building and futures. We work site-specifically on different sites throughout rural Denmark. To mention a few: We’re working with a sheepherder in Western Jutland - more specifically the “Crone Heath”. We work with a collective at Møn on buying and transforming a field used for conventional farming into a common and a forest garden for the local village. We also work with artist Dharmendra Prasad’s project The Harvest School in the farmers village Bihar in India.

And we try to build bridges and connect struggles in between some of these different sites and contexts. To quote Dharmendra’s beautiful and powerful words: “We must find ways to own the shared urgencies, we are facing.”

With the project, we ask ourselves how to hold land up to questions of commoning and collective ownership - a future of land beyond the military and the police. We believe in decolonization as giving land back, to its return and commoning led by its indigenous communities. We stand with the people of Palestine and the Palestinian people’s right to live freely in their own land with their olive gardens, which they have tended to, between the rivers and the sea.

We have chosen to call our three day long gathering and the exhibition moment: Radical Bridges ༄ Stories of the Sea. Here, we do not use radical in the meaning of a disruptive force coming from the outside as the word might mean, but precisely its opposite. Deriving from Late Latin (in the 14th century) the word radicalis or radix, which means: root. The earliest uses of radical are about literal roots, and hinging the meaning of relating to a root. Later radical came to describe things understood as fundamental or essential. In these times of crisis, the word radical urges us to think about the changes needed to create better circumstances for life to grow and be cared for. We use the word radical to underline the need of cultivating more rooted, sustained, caring relationships to the earth, the soil and the ocean as the living habitat that connects us all, and to each other across the world.

The 2nd part of the title Stories of the Sea - refers to our shared space and starting point being the ship Svartlöga - a ship carrying different heavy histories - linked to war, violence and traumas across times - but also linked to community building, care work and processes of restoring and healing. The same goes for the sea that is both a (living) habitat, a landscape, a culture, a contested territory, a graveyard for lost souls.

During these days, together, we will take the ship as a study case of inhabiting a functioning ruin and the sea as a whirlpool which entangles and stores multiple histories and times.

The works in the exhibition and the programme, tell and bring alive stories, traditions, myths and songs around and from the sea. They intertwine with past and current questions around coastal and environmental crises, migrational and border politics.

Before we get onto with the evening, our days and nights, we would like to express some gratitudes:

On behalf of both OXER and HL, Anna Liv and Sara have already thanked the local partners and all the sponsors.

So we now want to thank you: Anna Liv and Sara - and your OXER community - for the lovely collaboration - we wish to express how impressed we are by the work you do with your community around and on this beautiful ship.

Also deep deep gratitudes to all the artists for coming to Grenå to share your time, practices and presences with us:

Monia Sander Haj-Mohamed - Marie Kølbæk Iversen - Ayesha Hameed - Marianne Noer - Yin Aiwen - Bureau for Mellemartslig Kommunikation - Food Koreografi - Harun Morrison - Barly Tshibanda & Nanna Elvin Hansen Thank you all deeply! And thank you to the fishermen’s choir Slupkoret from Ebeltoft for bringing their shanties.

And thank you to the fishermen’s choir Slupkoret from Ebeltoft for bringing their shanties.

With these words - we invite you to be immersed with us and to unfold questions around border politics, community building and politics of encounter. Without further due we would like to invite you to begin our journeys of cultivating new radical bridges together.

CHEERS / SKÅL!

And now please help us welcoming:

Slupkoret from Ebeltoft who will perform shanties for us!

Warmly,

The Hosting Lands curators' team.

Collaborators & Co-hosts

Oxer and Hosting Lands Team inviting guests

Dea Antonsen welcoming guests in Danish