Some weekends ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Eva Koch’s exhibition “That Dream of Peace” at the Cisterns in Copenhagen.
Born in 1953 in Denmark, Eva Koch specialises in the fields of video installation, sound and sculpture.
“That Dream of Peace” is beautifully executed in the form of video installations and projections that light up the darkness of the Cisterns; a hidden hall of tunnels which lies underground, beneath Søndermarken Park. Once the provider of Copenhagen’s fresh water in the 1800s, this cavernous urban environment gives an impression and air of historical cathedrals and catacombs. Also intriguing are the dripstones from the ceiling, as a result of decomposition of the concrete roof and seeping rainwater which has dissolved the lime minerals in the concrete. Thus, as urban and raw as this environment appears, nature’s processes persist and it is this theme which is echoed within Eva Koch exhibition here; making it an ideal locality to display her work.
The message behind “That Dream of Peace” is that despite the world’s wars, destruction and terror, there is always life, growth and survival. The persistence and succession of nature with or without human intervention is the underlying emblem of Eva’s work.
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Upon entrance, the echoes of children’s laughter and talking are quite disconcerting and eerie. After being in the sunlit streets and parks of Copenhagen, it takes a little time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness of the cisterns, and after checking my photos on my camera and realising that people were actually walking ahead of me; it kind of made me aware that unknown to me, I could have been watched by some being, dwelling and hiding in the shadows. But with darkness, comes light and as you walk further through the tunnels, doves; perhaps the oldest symbol of peace, appear to be watching your every move from above. After following the light at the end of this tunnel:
I came to realise it was another dove in flight. Furthermore, the dove was being projected through a wall of mist and water droplets. This idea really exploited the locality and therefore was the most impressive part of the exhibition for me.
The main installation in another “room” or “cell” of the cisterns was a 15 m long, coherent image projected onto the wall, which alternated between images of poppies growing and unfolding and panning shots across extensive poppy fields; accompanied by faint bird song. Intervals of black and white photography and film sequences of children at play interrupted these natural, colourful tones. At the same time the sound effects altered to the voices and laughter of children and I took quite negative emotions from these images; thoughts of the effect of wartime on the previous generations and how it continues today.
Elsewhere, a projection of a time lapse of photos of a tree emerged. Trees, symbolising life, roots and growth remind us that nature has its own cycle and time-span and functions without human intervention. The fast shifts and flickering of the positioning of the photos were quite hypnotic yet gave a feeling of peace and transition.
Eva Koch’s “That Dream of Peace” continues to be exhibited at the Cisterns until the 30th November this year and I really recommend going. Furthermore, the Cisterns not only serve as an art exhibition venue but also for other events, so I recommend checking their webpage if you find yourself in Copenhagen.