21st CENTURY BOHEMIA: TSUNAMI & THE UZUPIS IN CHRISTIANIA, COPENHAGEN - CABARET TOXIQUE dedicated to 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE

21st CENTURY BOHEMIA:

TSUNAMI & THE UZUPIS IN CHRISTIANIA, COPENHAGEN

- CABARET TOXIQUE dedicated to

100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE

Reporter: Henrik Aeshna, late September, early october 2012 

* see full album, poems and the Uzupis Constitution at the bottom 

 

THE ZONE

artwork by Henrik Aeshna, Paris, 2012
artwork by Henrik Aeshna, Paris, 2012

Freetown Christiania, the legendary commune & autonomous republic situated at the heart of Copenhagen, founded in 1971 out of the WW2 remains & transformed into the biggest squat in the world. The very Zone envisioned by Andreï Tarkovski in Stalker now occupied by free thinkers, outsiders, artists, musicians & bohemians of all sorts. In short, the dream city for anyone who has Freedom as principle & doesn’t think life in society is all about competition, exploitation & inequality, but a cooperation-based free-access structure without pyramids, kings & servants. And this pirate dream’s been sailing on for 4 decades, braving governmental pressures & unscrupulous house state agents, a.k.a. the number 1 enemies of every form of liberty & self-sustainability, the ones who have been responsible for the blasting away of all bohemian sites & utopias through the ages, the same filthy Midas who turn cultural neighbourhoods & countercultural spots such as, i.e., Cabaret Voltaire in 1910’s Zurich, the Quartier Latin in Paris, the Greenwich Village in NY & practically everything into throwaway temples of greed & consummation such as McDonalds, Wall Streets & thousands of other big stores.

 

And it was on the free town’s 41st anniversary we arrived, willing to plunge into all that flow and effervescence and breathe in the true pollen of anarchy so as to contaminate other steppenwolves & pirates across the globe with the same spirit. – Michael Rothenberg, the organizer of global event 100 Thousand Poets for Change, had put me in contact with Tomas Chepaitis & the “mysterious” Užupis, another republic of artists which gives name to the old town district of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and which has often been compared to Montmartre in Paris & Christiania itself. The Republic of Uzupis declared its independency on April 1st, 1997 (April Fool’s day!). Having been a forgotten area of the Lithuanian capital since its dawn, back in the 16th century, and later torn down during the Holocaust, the district would become a haunt of eccentric bohemians, outsiders, homeless & prostitutes during Soviet times, and when Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union, in 1990, the district’s residents reclaimed the area as their own. By the time of Uzupis’s independence, in 1997, British newspaper The Guardian wrote “they tore down Lenin’s statue and raised one to Frank Zappa”, due to the American rocker’s influence on those renegades who had spent most part of their lives trying to dig a “tunnel” away from the Communist regime – The MasterKey to the Fields! All being put, what matters more is that, past 15 years since its independency, our Uzupi comrades from East Europe stay firm & strong, and in my opinion they are one of the most originally vibrant art collectives in this sell-out Europe, and in the world as well, mostly when referring to these incredibly boring times when all is gentrified & seems to have lost its power of both triggering new radical perceptions & inspiring others to brave the eye of the hurricane, and plunge into it, if possible, to reveal us all the sound & the fury of things.

 

SEPTEMBER 26 

photo: Henrik Aeshna
photo: Henrik Aeshna

Anita & I cross the main gate of Christiania on a slightly rainy morning yet burning with agitation; the village celebrates its 41st anniversary. Carnival in the air. More people rushing in, old & young libertarians alike, alternative tribes, street musicians busking around, neo-punks, rockers, jugglers, eco-hippies, tramps, weirdos, ragged intellectuals, tourists, families, children, pets. Christiania is a large open playground but also a refuge for Copenhagen locals who come over to explore the community’s large green area full of forest tracks, installation-like eco houses & a lake, & learn more about self-sustainability & solidarity with the Christianites, see friends, stroll around, check out what’s going on in one of the many alternative garage clubs & theatres that make up the zone, smoke weed (only hard drugs are forbidden, as well as weapons in general, thievery & violence), eat & drink the cheapest food & booze in all Denmark, or just hang around to meditate, read a book, paint, relax & live like the Christianites.

 

Past a few metres from the entrance we got into a building allured by the music coming from the third floor. We crashed into the cave & ran upstairs where we came across a round-up of artists completely abandoned to their paintings. Both intrigued & excited, I asked one of them what was going on, and she replied: “We are the Uzupis! Let me introduce you to our ambassador Tomas Chepaitis”. Tomas had just popped back in & we got on well quickly. He held a chalice of Russian vodka & we began talking about Michael (Rothenberg) & 100 Thousand Poets for Change. He shows us then a poster on the wall with the Uzupi constitution & a photo of himself below, some photography books produced by the collective, and introduced us to the rest of the group: most of them from Vilnius, but also some from Norway & Christiania. They were painting together for the main exhibition, which would take place 3 days later at the same local, a restaurant-bar-gallery…

We spent about 2 hours there buzzing around & sipping on some “poisoned” liquors, exchanging facts about the Uzupis, Christiania & our own work in Paris. Anita & I then popped out to explore the rest of Christiania & the carnival which was taking place outside & everywhere within the limits of the free town, yeah, down to Pusher Street we go…. We would come back to see the Uzupis the day after to talk some more & even paint a few works before the exhibition, and although we were well installed somewhere at the heart of Copenhagen, actually just a stone’s throw away from Christiania, we would spend most of our 8-day stay in Denmark in the free town, walking around, trekking, haunting the local clubs & bars, writing exquisite corpses, and practicing our favorite sport: Parkours Poétilique.

 

EXHIBITION

Uzupis Art Exhibition, Christiania, Copenhagen
photo: Henrik Aeshna

The exhibition was awesome, crowded with profane cows cats crows & twisted clocks from Transsylvania, Lithuanian musicians playing hallucinating accordions, totally in trance, lost foreigners, music blasting out - What a fanfare! Following the introductory presentation Tomas invited me to take the mike, and I screamed out one of my mash-up poems. Then Anita took a guitar & began singing old French toxic songs, from Ferré & Brassens to Gainsbourg & Frehel. Some people were entranced, and other musicians stormed in. They were also screening a very interesting video from the Uzupis district in Vilnius, and we met everyone there, took pics, waltzed, drank & disturbed the gods! Night came down, the moon was out blazing over the dark forest & we all left for a nearby club where there was some live music, hot beehoney, Latin spice, salsa & sweat...

 

ALBUM (by Henrik Aeshna & Anita Volk)

Special thanks to: Michael Rothenberg & 100pfc, Tomas Chepaitis, Vygantas Wind (Vejas), Lars Nordmand, Isabelle Ullman, Giedrius Bagdonas, Saule Urbanaviciute, Danielius Rusys, Henrik Shutze, Marius Neboisia, Annette Steinhart, Kirsten Larsen & all Christianites.

 

WRITINGS & OTHER FLOATING BALLOONS

Asterix in a Christiania riverside garden - Photo: Henrik Aeshna & Anita Volk
Asterix in a Christiania riverside garden - Photo: Henrik Aeshna & Anita Volk

 

CADAVRE EXQUISZOPHRENIC ( Henrik Aeshna & Anita Volk )

Christiania, sunset, September 30 

 

 

boiling aquariums

 

cadavre exquiszophrène

 

Ressuscitons

les Goliards sans patrie

les totems aux lèvres fleuries

qui mangent

le bout de paille hors des tétines lac lac vert et roseaux un grand hangar

au bord de Mars

d’un lac pot d’or crépuscule incendie

chiens noirs blancs et rouges

peaux vertes grise lumière crépusculaire

canailles bouteille trinque vélo vintage

velvet black samurai

 

Goliards sans patrie

araignées rimbaldiennes

whitmanesques

mâchant des fables ordinaires en langues arabes

les vieux loubards avec les jeunes roublards tas de bois

ah la vieille usine requinquée par milles couleurs et trekk traces main de l’homme

et patte du rat nordique en peau kérosène & feuilles d’automne

zig-zag en vélo

vers les Northern Lights

les chemins du sable gris léché grenouilles

mer gorgé d’algues et d’ambre calme

sans moteur juste les roues qui tournent et joie du vélo en l’air

les oies sauvages s’envoleront cet hiver

 

 

 

København Blues ( by henrik aeshna )

 

wee hours Copenhagen

       incandescent ruby windows

                                 ablaze

 

swinging swans

in whiskey lakes

of fire

beautiful girls

nomadic aquarium

 

northern symphony

darky sombre silent streets

bikes flash by

whiskey lake

sleeping swans shrouded

in the cold fog of

night

strawberry dreams are hers

rosy nipples under pink t-shirt

genital dewdrops

in crystal chalices

oozin’ from extraterrestrial cactuses

 

I drink her eye’lands & dreams

thru a milkshake straw

 

breathe in the brine

of her fingerprint-stained aquarellas

as we walk off the light 

to swing along pine-lined paths at night

whisperin’ oddly drunken choruses

down rainy streets past canals boats mansions

lookin’ for a cheap bar

 

or whatever other shabby excuse to keep dreamin'

 

coz we’ve never believed

in

TIME

 

(h Aeshna, Copenhagen)

 

 

The Yellow Lights of Waiting

(poem for Christiania, by Tomas Chepaitis

Written there on occasion of 100 TPC, September 29-th, 2012)

 

 

There's a traffic light somewhere in Copen,

Where all signs are yellow and still.

And the people, so called Christianians

Are like onions, but onions sweet.

 

Green is the Chakra of Love,

               Red is the Chakra of action.

Love and act, but inside, 

and outside, learn to wait, 

learn to see what is coming ahead.

       Take your time, pass a joint, 

ride a bike, grab a Tail of the Fox

On the road that is leading to heaven.

 

There's a girl on a bike and a babe in a box, 

and the dogs unexpectedly friendly.

There's a pusher, a puller, a smith and a swan, 

all are waiting in movement, in action.

 

So today I proclaim the culture of waiters -

Red/Green waiters on Yellow streets.

Waiters, serving the clan of predators, 

waiting when they will turn to sheep.

 

When it'd happen, all traffic lights here in Copen

would burst with a fireworks of the Yellow-Red-Green

....

and the rest of the story I'll tell afterwards, 

when you'll come to Vilnius, blin.

 

The Uzupis Constitution (by Romas Lileikis & Tomas Chepaitis)

 

 

Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.

 

Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.

 

Everyone has the right to die, but it is not a duty.

Everyone has the right to make mistakes.

Everyone has the right to individuality.

 

Everyone has the right to love.

 

Everyone has the right to be not loved, but not necessarily.


Everyone has the right not to be distinguished and famous.

Everyone has the right to be idle.

 

Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.

Everyone has the right to look after a dog till one or the other dies.


A dog has the right to be a dog.

 

A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in difficult times.

 

Everyone has the right to sometimes be unaware of his duties.

 

Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not a duty.

 

Everyone has the right to be happy.


Everyone has the right to be unhappy.

Everyone has the right to be silent.


Everyone has the right to have faith.

No one has the right to violence.

 

Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.

 

Everyone has the right to encroach upon eternity.

 

Everyone has the right to understand.

 

Everyone has the right to understand nothing.

 

Everyone has the right to be of various nationalities.

 

Everyone has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.

 

Everyone shall remember his name.

 

Everyone may share what he possesses.

 

No-one can share what he does not possess.

 

Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.

 

Everyone is capable of independence.

 

Everyone is responsible for his freedom.

 

Everyone has the right to cry.

 

Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.

 

No-one has the right to make another person guilty.

 

Everyone has the right to be personal.

 

Everyone has the right to have no rights.

 

Everyone has the right to not be afraid.

 

Do not defeat.

 

Do not fight back.

 

Do not surrender.

 

 

« La constitution d'Uzupis en français »

 

 

  1. L'Homme a le droit de vivre près de la petite rivière Vilnalé et la Vilnalé a le droit de couler près de l'Homme
  2. L'Homme a le droit à l'eau chaude, au chauffage durant les mois d'hiver et à un toit de tuile
  3. L'Homme a le droit de mourir, mais ce n'est pas un devoir
  4. L'Homme a le droit de faire des erreurs
  5. L'Homme a le droit d'être unique
  6. L'Homme a le droit d'aimer
  7. L'Homme a le droit de ne pas être aimé, mais pas nécessairement
  8. L'Homme a le droit d'être ni remarquable ni célèbre
  9. L'Homme a le droit de paresser ou de ne rien faire du tout
  10. L'Homme a le droit d'aimer le chat et de le protéger
  11. L'Homme a le droit de prendre soin du chien jusqu'à ce que la mort les sépare
  12. Le chien a le droit d'être chien
  13. Le chat a le droit de ne pas aimer son maitre mais doit le soutenir dans les moments difficiles
  14. L'Homme a le droit, parfois de ne pas savoir qu'il a des devoirs
  15. L'Homme a le droit de douter, mais ce n'est pas obligé
  16. L'Homme a le droit d'être heureux
  17. L'Homme a le droit d'être malheureux
  18. L'Homme a le droit de se taire
  19. L'Homme a le droit de croire
  20. L'Homme n'a pas le droit d'être violent
  21. L'Homme a le droit d'apprécier sa propre petitesse et sa grandeur
  22. L'Homme n'a pas le droit d'avoir des vues sur l'éternité
  23. L'Homme a le droit de comprendre
  24. L'Homme a le droit de ne rien comprendre du tout
  25. L'Homme a le droit d'être d'une nationalité différente
  26. L'Homme a le droit de fêter ou de ne pas fêter son anniversaire
  27. L'Homme devrait se souvenir de son nom
  28. L'Homme peut partager ce qu'il possède
  29. L'Homme ne peut pas partager ce qu'il ne possède pas
  30. L'Homme a le droit d'avoir des frères, des sœurs et des parents
  31. L'Homme peut être indépendant
  32. L'Homme est responsable de sa Liberté
  33. L'Homme a le droit de pleurer
  34. L'Homme a le droit d'être incompris
  35. L'Homme n'a pas le droit d'en rendre un autre coupable
  36. L'Homme a le droit d'être un individu
  37. L'Homme a le droit de n'avoir aucun droit
  38. L'Homme a le droit de ne pas avoir peur
  39. Ne conquiers pas
  40. Ne te protège pas
  41. N'abandonne jamais

 

 

« L'Ange d'Uzupis », statue

Cette Constitution, élaborée par le réalisateur lituanien Romas Lileikis, est traduite dans huit langues différentes et exposée sur la façade d'un mur proche du café Dans Nos Murs, le plus connu d'Uzupis

 

Write a comment

Comments: 127