Christiania 2009

May 5, 2012 at 9:03 am

  • Christiania 2009

    The Western world’s longest existing alternative society

    Christiania is the Western world’s longest existing alternative society, an autonomous community in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ruled according to codes outside of conventional law and order, Christiania is a self-proclaimed ‘Freetown’, governed by its own organization.
    Founded in 1971 by a group of hippies, its inhabitants of around 900 people are currently facing an existential and property rights crisis. The social experiments ageing population of 1960s counterculturalists are fighting a less tolerant government as well as an intensified commercial property interest of the area, situated right in the middle of Copenhagen’s most attractive neighbourhoods.Freedom goes hand in hand with ownership in the Western world. The domestic sphere is often seen as the ultimate resort of privacy. Within the boundaries of “home” we have the right to express our freedom and individuality in any way we want since we have bought ourselves the right to do so.
    What differentiates The Freetown from the rest of the Western society today is mainly the “Christianite” attitude towards ownership of housing, a system that they oppose in order to “contest the capitalist stranglehold of individuality and identity”.

    As a result, its alternative existence causes trouble for public institutions such as law, order and function, which depend on a homogeneous organization of society and its inhabitants.

    The Danish Eastern High Court decided in May 2009 that the government was within its powers to re-assert control over the area. The residents, however, believe that the state’s (until now) acceptance of their occupation has given them de facto rights to the neighbourhood. They have appealed the case to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

    Despite the constant threat of closure and normalization, the community continues to invest in the future. The initial hippie commune have been reinforced by a hard working mixed population of “alternativists” who are busy developing local businesses and giving hordes of tourists guided tours. The Freetown attracts around one million visiting tourists every year since Christiania has become a pertinent and rare example of an alternative domestic organisation.
    This series aspires to be a contemporary reflection on the interactive Community of Christiania, focusing on its new generation, its neighbours, visitors and ecological modernisation.

  • Musicians from Sweden on their first time visit in Christiania
  • Treetop in the Freetown of Christiania
  • Felix and Kenneth come to Christiania to be close to nature in a relaxed way. "Its lush surroundings and the relaxed vibe remind us of home".
  • Recently nominated House sitter of the Freetown’s famous glasshouse. This represents a challenge as this man has for many years abused drugs that are banned in the Freetown. This is an attempt to put and end to his addiction.
  • Sun bathing horse in the Freetown’s own stable.
  • While having breakfast in her Christianian residency, Kir explains why Christiania is such a problem to the government; “they can’t accept us due to the “tall poppy syndrome” just as much as the law itself”.
  • Teenagers sitting in the woods by the water. They come to Christiania to meet friends, to have fun and to smoke after school.
  • Innovative, temporary living in the Freetown of Christiania. The state has banned the community to construct new housing.
  • Niels Hansen, called “the forest troll” has lived in the autonomous community Christiania since it’s creation. He lives in a house on a solitary hill without electricity or running water. Niels believe he will never be able to adjust to a modern lifestyle and says that if Christiania gets shut down, he will probably not survive.
  • A house built in the shape of a hexagon on the lakeshore of Christiania. The political opposition wants to tear down many of the houses built in Christiania as they are illegal, do not have permits and don’t follow building codes. According to the government the Copenhagen defence line on which they are situated must be cleared to protect the city's cultural heritage.
  • Claus Naver, resident in Christiania since 1992, has been pursuing the renovation of this new house during insecure years, knowing that officially it’s not permitted and that the government could come and legally stop his work at any time. He believes that it has been important for the community to see that someone is taking initiatives. “We must defy this constant pressure and continue to live.” Claus has renovated the house to be as sustainable as possible.
  • Marina Botes lives in Christianshamn, the neighbouring area of the community of Christiania. She often visits the area; “It is a great place to go to with the family and to exercise in.”
  • Painted wall on Pusher Street; the controversial main road, known for its open hash market stalls within the Freetown of Christiania.
  • Pusher girlfriends, recognisable by the heavy key chains they carry around their necks, Christiania.
  • The Annual kindergarten Sollyst’s summer party is organized by the Christianian community to raise money for their children’s yearly common trip. The children perform among other residents on the floating stage.
  • Girls playing guitar in the grass as they arrive in Christiania by train after school from Helsingor. The journey takes one hour.
  • Man with tattooed back on Christiania’s Pusher Street; known for its open hash market stalls.
  • Jerry is Swedish and has lived in Christiania for the last 20 years. He lives in a small barrack called “The Dog hut”.
  • Helena moved into the Freetown of Christiania three months ago. “When I first met my partner, who has lived here for years, I was not that interested in the Freetown. I was against the open sale of drugs and thought I was never going to live here. It was hard to see the criminal world being so close onto the everyday life. It was a challenge to get used to but Christiania is a lot of things, it is not just one homogeneous entity. Here are a lot of people with different opinions and ways to look at the world. I have not yet participated in any of the area meetings but I have understood they can be quite challenging.”
  • Lush Christianian garden “Christiania is a part of the city, we will never be a farming community but sustainable projects are a part of our modernisation. We are very restricted due to financial problems. It is hard for us, since Christiania is officially illegal, to get funding support from external organizations or to participate in projects to get money.“ says Allan Lausten from the Christiania Building Office.
  • Donna and Graham Hamilton are tourists from Florida, U.S. They came to the Freetown for the first time ten years ago. This time around they were curious to come back and see what remained. “We are surprised at how much Christiania has grown over the years.”
  • Allan Lausten at home with his family. “Most Christiania’s houses started out as simple trailer wagons. Not to owe money to anyone, it was natural to expand the house with time, according to what our financial situation would permit. Each year the house grows and improves a bit. This is really how all Christiania’s houses became what they are today.” Allan works at the “Christianian building office” and has been striving for the last 20 years to make Christiania more sustainable.
  • Swan with cygnets. Christiania has a rich bird life as a result to its many green areas.
  • Actor and former Christianite Erik “Slojfebinder” (left) is visiting his old neighbourhood and grabs a drink outside the local shop with friends. In the seventies Erik took part of the famous, internationally acclaimed theater group “Solvognen” who were very politically militant. They became one of the symbols of Christiania and the Freetown’s “art against authority” stance, using the theatre activities to criticise the Danish society and to suggest new social and economic relationships.
  • Improvised street performance by the lake.