Imagine walking through a city and little by little finding out more about the stories hidden just below the surface of everyday life – or maybe even understanding better what’s right in front of you.
This is what you get if you listen to the audiowalk Spor af Grønland (Traces of Greenland) by Sirí Paulsen. In the audiowalk, you will be taken through everyday life in Copenhagen, informed about works of art you may not have noticed before and last but not least, you will also be confronted with many of the personal and larger societal destinies and stories that hide behind the surface of a large modern city.
Sirí Paulsen is an artist, an academic, a mother, and Greenlander. And she is also a cultural communicator and audiowalk producer. In 2020, in collaboration with Norwegian dramaturg Mari Noodt, she made an audiowalk called Traces of Greenland, which takes the listeners on a trip through Copenhagen. The audiowalk consists of 9 stops, each one tells a story about the relationship between Greenland and Denmark.
“We imagined an audience who didn’t know much about Greenland and wanted to know more. We wanted to give them the opportunity to acquire knowledge anonymously and without seeming ignorant. I think part of the reason why there is this gap between Denmark and Greenland, and this ignorance exists is because it’s actually a bit embarrassing for a Dane not to know anything about Greenland”, Sirí explains.
The story told from the Greenlandic perspective
Sirí believes that there are some very strong narratives on what it means to be a Greenlander. There are many prejudices, which she believes is the result of ignorance. Through this audiowalk, she is attempting to remedy ignorance and inform about Greenlandic culture through a modern form of communication.
“Greenlanders in Denmark are a relatively large minority, but we are not recognised as a minority because we have a Danish citizenship from birth. In my eyes this means that we are even more invisible”, Sirì says.
This invisibility applies not only to the Greenlandic people in Danish society – but also to the Greenlandic stories that are hidden in the Copenhagen cityscape. The audiowalk Traces of Greenland shows both the Greenlandic impact on the Danish capital as well as the Greenlandic and Danish coexistence today, but also the shared history, which forms the framework for the two countries’ relationship today.
“In a way, it’s 9 pieces of cultural criticism. Part of it is to criticize that we have no modern Greenlandic art made by Greenlandic artists in Copenhagen’s city center, even though Greenland constitutes such a large part of the Danish state. On the other hand, there are several examples of art made by Danes, who portrays the Inuit in an archetypal way,” says Sirí, who among artworks refers to the Greenland Monument by Svend Rathsack, which can be found on Christianshavns Torv in Copenhagen.
An audiowalk is a good way to tell a story, according to Sirí, as the location itself tells half of the story, and the stories can shed a light on the Greenlandic/Danish relationship:
“The most important thing, I think, is to make room for our thoughts and the interpretation of our relationships. And it has to be diverse. It would be cool if there were room for different voices from Greenland, who could be allowed to digest the relationship, without each of us becoming individual representatives of our entire country. It is important to make room for us to speak on our own behalf and express our individual thoughts,” Sirí says.
Expand your horizon
Even if you are already familiar with the Greenlandic-Danish colonial history and Greenlandic culture, you should still put on your walking shoes and have a listen – it’s a great story.
You can find the audio trail Traces of Greenland (only in Danish) at https://sporafgronland.wordpress.com/audioguideogkort/