A great way to experience North Atlantic culture is by visiting the North Atlantic House, located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is a cultural center that allows visitors to experience the North Atlantic culture through dances, films, performances, concerts and other exhibitions. Tourists and locals alike can visit anytime of the year because of the various exhibitions and performances, which are scheduled all throughout the year. Visitors can also get assistance and tours around the house and the exhibitions.
Experience North Atlantic Culture at the North Atlantic House
At the moment, the exhibition halls are dominated by the most popular exhibition at the North Atlantic House to date, By the Sea exhibition by Aka Høegh (b.1947 in Qullissat, North Greenland) presents older and most recent works, all of which illustrate the sea’s proliﬁc effect on her art. Aka is one of the great Greenlandic artists of her time. Her artwork can also be found in the National Museum in Greenland, National Museum in Iceland, Riksmuseet in Netherlands, and Kobberstisamlingen in Copenhagen. She is mainly inspired by nature and the different myths and stories surrounding the sea. Aka, although not political today, played a big role in Greenlands fight for partial independence few decades ago.
NordicStyleMag met with Ásta Stefánsd. at the North Atlantic House
My name is Ásta Stefánsdóttir. I’ve been working at the North Atlantic House since we opened in 2003. The North Atlantic House is a culture house where we focus on the countries in the North Atlantic – the west Nordic area; Iceland, Greenland and Faroe Islands. Our goal here is to teach the Danes, tourists and others that are interested, about the countries that we represent.
NordicStyleMag: How do you teach about the culture of the west Nordic area?
Ásta: We do that in different ways. We have exhibitions with artists from the countries so we say we always have at least one big exhibition from each country per year. We also have concerts and different events so we represent the country in many different ways, we show the various cultural experiences you can get from the countries. So whether it would be Icelandic stand-up or knitting, literature reading or a rock concert from the Faroe Island, you know that’s our focus.
NordicStyleMag: That’s interesting. So you said the house opened in 2003, who was behind this project?
Ásta: It was actually a Danish biologist who started a project and got a hold of some people who controlled the building we are in and other people who were interested in the west Nordic area. Former Icelandic president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, played a very important part in this. They got together and discussed the possiblities and decided to go ahead and see if there would be an interest from the countries.
These 3 countries have belonged and in part still belong to Denmark. Iceland became independent in 1944 but the others are still a part of Denmark and that’s what brings us together. The original idea was also to bring Norway into the project, because Norway was also a part of Denmark for a long time but they declined the offer. The municipality of Copenhagen gave the house to the countries and the countries then renovated it. It’s a very historical house and that’s basically the reason for the project here today. It’s actually the history that is the red thread between the countries.
NordicStyleMag: Do you know if there are similar houses in other places in the world?
Ásta: There are many Nordic houses in the Nordics but the North Atlantic, well it’s basically the west Nordic, the focus on Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, we’re the first and only one. There is a new one opening in the fall in Odense, Denmark, so we’re soon to be not the only one.
Music lovers would be pleased to know that there will be a concert by Benjamin, a young Faroese singer, on the 3rd of May. Benjamin is on a mini European tour and luckily stops by the North Atlantic House. Concert guests will enjoy a mixture of Americana, electro-pop and Indie music from this rising star.
If you happen to be in Copenhagen on the 3rd of May and would like to attend, you can purchase tickets online.
There will be a lecture on the Icelandic knitting traditions on the 21st of April at 2-4 pm. This will give visitors a chance to get to know the heritage and innovation of knitting in Iceland. Visitors will also learn about a phenomena unique to Iceland and that was being lost, namely the use of colourful knittet inserts used in skin shoes. Hélène Magnusson, French/Icelandic designer and author of the book “Icelandic Color Knitting; using Rose patterns” will also enlighten attendees on how to give the designs a modern twist while still preserving the tradition. Tickets online.
The cosmic room
The Faroese artist Tróndur Paturssons has made a brilliant art object; an interactive glass house called ‘The Cosmic Room’. The glass house has mirrors both on the ceiling and on the floor that together with the glass art on the walls, creates a disorientating reflection with a depth of hundreds of meters. This should give the visitors a feeling of floating in the cosmic space. Some say that people with a fear of heights should be careful when going into the installation, so this one should be exciting.
The installation is permanent and is located outside, next to the North Atlantic House.
The North Atlantic House is about 7000 square meters and apart from the exhibitions and events, they have a café and a shop, where they sell design products from the region. Embassies from the region are also in the house, as is the world famous Nordic restaurant, Noma, a two Michelin star restaurant ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World in 2010, 2011 and 2012 by the magazine ‘Restaurant’.
Top photo is from the North Atlantic House
Signý Kristinsdóttir, an Icelander that loves all things art and design related, writes on behalf of nordicArtists.com. Located in Copenhagen.