[Guest Post by Zofia Zelazny in Copenhagen] What happens when you show up at an event you randomly noticed on the Facebook feed? I got the chance to meet childhood classmates in the atmosphere of fancy vernissage, and to view snapshots of Iraqi everyday street life, as well as experience Denmark’s only church with a graffiti painted altar piece.
On the evening 9th of January the gloomy crypt under Brorson’s church in Nørrebro hosted the opening of a photo exhibition. The project Baghdad - a 21st Century Wondertopia, is a poetic tale of the big and small issues of youth culture in today’s Baghdad. The photo exhibition is a sneak peek of a documentary in progress, which aims to go deeper than the negative, dramatic and politicized stories about Iraq shown in the media. The location for the exhibition was not chosen randomly. Back in 2009 Brorson’s church, under massive public attention and debates, provided provisional shelter for 60 refused asylum seekers from Iraq, who eventually got forced out of Denmark.
The priest Nicolaj Stubbe Hørlyck welcomed everyone and introduced the audience to the photographers Camilla Bøgeholt Lund and Céleste Nshimiyimana.
In the somber, candle-lit crypt under the church, conversations blended with modern Arabic music.
After bumping into a couple of old friends from primary school, I worked up the courage to take out the sketchbook. Luckily, most of the people were absorbed chatting or taking in the images of shattered buildings, little girls drinking tea on the banks of Tigris, street workers with heavy carriages and young muscular break dancers. Juggling a drink, my paper pad and pencils was quite a challenge in the crowd. The drawing opportunities improved when we reached the church room, for a short “sight-seeing.”
The altar piece created by the street artist Brandon Lewis, presenting the quote; “He who has no love has no knowledge of God, because God is love.”(1.John 4,8). The inscriptions in Danish, English and Arabic point at the diversity of the neighborhood and the embracing attitude of Brorson’s church.
The interior is centered around the simple, wooden altar with built in pulpit and baptismal font in the form a giant golden bowl.
I hope that my sketches will give a feeling of that evening, and perhaps awake your interest in Copenhagen, and spread knowledge of the Wondertopia project, a project that I believe is about compassion and the wish for a world free of prejudice, something we all wish for.
Zofia Zelazny lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has graduated as architect. She has always been drawing, but got interested in urban sketching about three years ago. You can see more of Zofia's work on her Flickr page.