Vidste hun noget om skoven
vidste hun noget om skoven
Site-specific participatory performance with handdyed paper, 30 minutes, 2023
Site-specific solo exhibiton and performance at Sankt Knuds Kilde & P. Nørkjærs Plads in Hjørring, 2023
The exhibition and the performance are based on the myth of Kællingstenen (The Crone Stone) recorded in 1886 by folklorist Evald Tang Kristensen. In summary the myth is about an evil woman whose spirit couldn't find rest when she died, but wandered in the night creating a valley where she walked. People were afraid to cross the valley, so they tried several ways to get rid of her ghost, but to no luck. Finally, a priest succeeded in conjuring her ghost underground and in order to make sure it stayed there a large stone was driven down on the spot. In Kristensens recording of the myth the woman is not directly described as a witch, but stories of witches' sabbaths are linked to the stone's original location. In the last century the stone has been moved several times and the myth has gradually been forgotten. Is her spirit free again, now that she's no longer held down by the stone?
The performance and the exhibition look at what Kristensen didn't record, namely the woman's perspective - who was she really? – as well as the figure of the witch as both mystical and historical, and highly relevant today in discussions about care work, knowledge of nature, gender and power.
At the same time, large stones in Denmark are threatened, because their cultural and natural significance is forgotten and overlooked: On the one hand, they play central roles in the preservation of folklore, and on the other hand they contribute to biodiversity as important habitats for insects, mosses and lichens. The exhibition seeks to make room for the overlooked stories of both the woman from the myth of Kællingstenen and the stones. The performance took place in Sankt Knuds Kilde, Hjørring, June 24, the day after Sankthansaften (Saint John's Eve), when witch effigies are traditionally burned on bonfires. I began the performance with a reading of the 1886 myth of Kællingstenen, and then in following with Danish Sankthans tradition I held a speech in which I reflected on the history and journey of Kællingstenen and on the woman, who name refers to. The myth has so little detail about her life, her death and even her alleged evil deeds. What was she like and how did she get such a horrible reputation?
The installation on the floor mimicked the rare and protected glacial erratics, which are areas scattered with stones that have been left behind by glaciers 15,000 years ago. Many of these stones have been removed by farmers and used as building materials, and today very few glacial erratics are left in Denmark. At the end of the room a display case showed books, texts and photos relating to Kællingstenen, the glacial erratics and to the role of geology in relation to oral traditions.
Installation with found flint and handdyed paper. Through the exhibition period guest added to the work by writing questions on pieces of paper and placing them among the stones.
Dimentions variable, 2023
After the speech I performed a poem composed of 50 questions for the woman, imagining the many ways her life could have played out. Afterwards, I invited the audience to continue the poem with me, by writing more questions for the woman – as an honorary ceremony for her and an attempt to centre her perspective. We finished by reading our questions to each other and then walked back to the exhibition, where people placed their questions in the installation Narrative Erratics for other visitors to read.
Photo by Lasse Fisher