The Role of Culture in a Sustainable Society, seminar in Helsinki, September 2015

“Culture and art provide our society with creativity, critical thinking, empathy, confidence, risk tolerance and mutual respect. We believe that working with culture and art and through the cultural meeting, we create an essential part of the foundation for the Nordic region and societies to become sustainable”

– Per Voetmann, director, Nordic Culture Point


We are pleased to have assembled a versatile and exciting programme with speakers and examples of inspiring projects from all over the Nordic region:

  • Katriina Soini (FI), postdoc researcher, Cultural Policy, University of Jyväskylä. Topic: Introduction to culture and sustainability
  • Angela Goldin (NO), director, The International Museum of Children’s Art. Topic: How does art projects for, with and by children contribute to a sustainable society?
  • Ola Jacobson (SE), chairperson for the Culture and Art Programme and strategist and responsible for international affairs for Culture Skåne. Will comment on Angela Goldins´ presentation
  • Casper Hernández Cordes (DK), composer, Fonografit and Building Sound Collectives. Topic: Sustainable support and culture and art as a driver for cultural sustainability + artistic intervention about sustainable collectives through sound and movement
  • Kenneth Flak (NO), chairperson for Mobility Funding and choreographer and dancer at Roosna & Flak. Will comment on Casper Hernández Cordes´ presentation and intervention
  • Ulrika Lind (AX), freelance culture and art strategist

Read more here.

Building sound academia. What actually happened in Helsinki?

How do we build sound collectives? How do we create an atmosphere of playfulness and free flow of ideas between adults? If human interaction is much more than words, if it’s also a lot about nonverbal interaction, how can we add this dimension to events where scholars meet to discuss cultural aspects of human life – using almost exclusively words? Are human beings more than merely brains attached to a chunk of flesh&bones, and does it make sense to imagine a modality of human interaction, we could call corporeal reflection? If academia is the institution entrusted with the task of to understanding and finding solutions to our problems, is it meaningful to not involve the reflection taking place in sensorial, bodily reflection in this institution?

These are some of the question that are put into play in the workshop I was facilitating in Helsinki, at the Cultures in sustainable futures conference, May 2015.

The whole session was video recorded. I have experienced that this is a fantastic way of learning from the workshops, I am facilitating. Since we are working with nonverbal interaction, with sound and gesture as means of expression and communication, of course, the temporal aspect is extremely important. In order to get an idea about how the timing works, and in order to get a clearer image about the building of ‘cultural tissue’ that is going on in the collective, analysing a video recording of the session is crucial.

I have picked some highlights of the workshop session, and I am sharing them with you here, for you to get an image about how the tools and methods work.

1) “Pick Two” – Establishing equal distance between you and two other participants of your (secret) choice. Description.

2) Gesture imitation. Read more here.

3) Gesture imitation, with sound

4) Gesture merging

What do you think? Can we reflect via the body?, without words?, in higher education? Does academia need to include bodily reflection as a modality? Can you present a thesis in the form of a choreography?

Join the discussion!! Pitch in!! Write your comments below. Join us on Facebook, join our group ‘Art in Organisations’ on Linkedin.

Non-verbal communication and the “voice” of drums

“The garamut have two functions in this society. First, they are used to communicate between people through a code of beats, which enables the Reite to say things such as “the whiteman will come to eat banana in [a particular] hamlet tomorrow afternoon, as long as there is no rain” – this last sentence demands very good skills, but basically everyone is able to hear their own names when called by the slit-gongs. The second functions of the garamut is to “accompany the voices of water-dwelling spirits when the spirits are drawn to the village by men of the cult”[9], in other words to communicate with them. Besides, each spirit “is known by the unique tune of its voice, and by the unique beat which properly accompanies it””

Non human entities: cosmopolitics and modern politics

Non-verbal communication and the “voice” of drums
Understanding perissological resonators

Our inquiry on how non-human entities are made to speak now leads us to wonder about non-verbal communication. Speech is indeed not the only way to communicate, and alternative media used in rituals may be interesting to look at. Non-verbal communication can go both ways: from humans to non-humans, or from non-humans to humans. Bruno Latour proposed to take some facts as propositions, such as the “drip-drip” of melting glaciers warning about global warming. Pierre Lemonnier now proposes to consider that objects produce non-verbal statements and are great tools of communication.

A non-verbal statement can be defined as “the communication of an idea, position, mood or the like through something other than words”[1]. Tim Ingold insists on the idea that “objects might do what words alone cannot”[2] in the domain of ritual. Rituals indeed enjoy the necessity…

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To perform or not to perform? Well to perform, then!

“I do not usually feel comfortable with performing“, she said, and I said: “Wow, that’s not what one would have thought, after seeing you today!”

This was our last Barefoot Sound Kitchen session, on a rainy-sunny day – typical for the Danish “summer”. Nine people took part in the workshop, here are some images from the session:

You can listen to all the folk compositions / impros from the Barefoot Sound Kitchen sessions here:

With support from:

Consume! Consume!? Create!!

This beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, I set up Barefoot Sound Kitchen  – street kitchen edition, at a place, that could best be described as the bedrock of consumerism in Denmark: The King’s Square, Kongens Nytorv. A place where 95% of the passers-by will have at least one plastic bag with a new pair of shoes, a new shirt or a new dress attached to their arms.

Are these people willing to play? “Can you help us?”, I asked. Most of the – seeing our setup with microphones etc., reacted by taking a hard look on the pavement and hurrying on, with a short remark about being busy. Still, there were a few who were open to be lured into the game. And others who spontaneously threw themselves into the game.

I invited Henrik, a little elderly gentleman to participate. He didn’t consider this to be anything he needed to take part in. He was 90 (!) years old. I would have taken him to be 70. He said he had experienced World War 2. I asked him how that was. He said that he had escaped to Sweden. And had started a brigade. What brigade? I didn’t quite get that. Anyway. Although shy he didn’t shy away from giving a perfectly in tune rendering of “Jeg elsker de grønne lunde”, and old Danish song, through the means of a microphone that converted his thin voice into a fat double bas sound.

Then there was Simon, who took the stage with a storm. He was one of those guys who sell a street paper “Hus Forbi”, a free spirit, enjoying a smoke and a beer (probably not the first, that day). He gave it all he got and tried out all instruments, improvising, singing, yelling, inviting anyone to join us. He said he was crazy about Barefoot Sound Kitchen, and sustained a theory that it would be very popular at parties, and at the pubs. He even thought I could make a lot of money on it. It eas definitely better than karaoke. I said something along the lines that this was an art project ant blabla. Well then make the money on renting out this setup and make your art on the side. You gotta make a living somehow. These were very intelligent words from someone living in the street, and it actually made a lot of sense. Drunk people in general are more willing to play. And Barefoot Sound Kitchen is a fun toy – besides being an art project. What’s the big deal? Who the h.. cares?

I asked about his history, and he told me he had been a fisherman for a number of years. He had been hit by a car. And was unable to work. He had been receiving “help” from welfare, but this had been only humiliating and he had ended up struggling with fits of anxiety. Now he had dropped out of everything. Didn’t get a penny from welfare. No more anxiety, Simon was now a free bird of the streets (as we say in Danish).

Simon gave this paper, Hus Forbi, as a gesture for being part of Barefoot Sound Kitchen. He didn’t accept my offer to pay for it, – even though the audience had given us some money for the performance.

Then there were two boys coming by. One of the wanted to do some rapping:

Three hours in the sunny weather with microphones, and the sounds of piano, drums, saxophone, trumpet and Double bass. Eight to twelve people having taken part in the improvisations, playing with sounds, and maybe working with some of their inhibitions.  Maybe some new images that might slip through in their dreams.

There was a lady saying: “This looks so simple, but having to actually use your voice in these microphones it made my heart beat double as fast!”. I guess we all have had this dream: You are standing on a stage, and you are supposed to perform something, maybe a ballet, maybe a solo piano concert. And you are completely unprepared.

Barefoot Sound Kitchen Street Kitchen:

Four Saturdays in June 2015 at 2 – 5 pm on the streets and squares of Copenhagen

6/6  Kgs Nytorv
13/6  Regnbuepladsen (v. Rådhuspladsen)
20/6  Nyhavn, v. ankeret
27/6 at Nytorv

Barefoot Sound Kitchen, indoor, in Dome of Visions:
17/6 at 7 – 8 pm
5/7 at 4 – 5 pm
8/7 at 4 – 5 pm

Barefoot Sound Kitchen has received funding from

Casper Hernández Cordes har modtaget støtte til Barefoot Sound Kitchen fra Statens Kunstfond

My 9 favorite tweets, Day Three at the conference

My 10 favorite tweets from Day Two at the Culture(s) in sustainable futures Conference

12 favorite tweets from day One at the conference about Cultural Sustainability in Helsinki

Day one at the Culture(s) in sustainable futures conference.

These are my favorite tweets from the day:

Bruno Latour was not at the conference (that would have been really awesome), but here is a tweet popping up from @latourbot, that I find really relevant:

Going to the conference in Helsinki? If not, join the live streaming

Not participating in the conference? Here’s a chance to experience part of the program as a live stream.

Cultures in Sustainable Futures, webcast schedule:

Wednesday, 6th May
9.30 – 11.00 Opening plenary
11.30 – 13.00 Plenary I: Culture as the fourth pillar of sustainability and beyond – a dream or achievable goal?

Thursday, 7th May
9.00 – 10.30 Plenary II: Just and sustainable culture(s) from local to global
11.00 – 12.30 Plenary III: Transformations: Towards sustainable ways of life

Friday, 8th May
14.00 – 15.30 Concluding session

Are you joining us at the conference? Or the live stream? Hook up with me on twitter, @fnogr, I will be tweeting along the way!

Link to the webcast:
Read more about the conference:

Read about my workshop at the conference (not live streamed!) here: