Interview with Jens Galschiot, 3 October 2011
I have heard about your plans to bury your Hans Christian Andersen sculpture and would love to cover
the news: I was hoping to ask you a couple of questions for my piece.
Could you say a bit more about why the plans for the Storytellers' Fountain fell through?
The basic problem was that the city council didn´t immediately find a place for the sculpture when they did have all the money, but instead procrastinated for years, in spite of several reminders from the committee as well as myself. But why did they wait? Perhaps it was a combination of the financial crisis and opposition from the posh circles of art in Odense?
The funding (about one million Euro) for the sculpture had been found, but the financial crisis caused a fund, that had donated 350.000 Euro, to go bankrupt, and afterwards the city council withdrew 420.000 Euro, which left about 230.000 Euro and the prospect of a new fundraising.
A lot of the local art consultants probably feel that the Storyteller’s Fountain is way too common or coarse? Although I consider myself a very modern artist who work with global art installations and happenings, a kind of street art, my artistic expression is inspired by the symbolism of Rodin and Art Nouveau. Some art councilors can´t comprehend that you can work in a naturalistic tradition and combine it with street art…
It took the civil servants five years to suggest four different places for the sculpture and all were totally unsuited. It´s my personal opinion, that they deliberately suggested these places to get me to say no and drop the project entirely. The public support on the contrary has been overwhelming.
Why, when you were offered a place for your statue by the harbour,
have you decided to bury it?
No, they never offered me a place, they merely mentioned – or suggested - that it would be a good idea to place the sculpture by the harbor. I don´t agree on this matter, since the Storyteller’s Fountain was intended as an interactive sculpture, which requires a certain amount of people passing by, which again requires a certain amount of daily activity or “life” and not some empty pier. Besides, right from the beginning it was a requirement from the donors, that the sculpture should have central placement.
But, when the project died I decided to comply with their suggestion, in a sense, and bury the sculpture in the harbor. Part of the sculpture (the storytellers head) will still be visible from the pier.
What do you think the man himself, Hans Christian Andersen, would have
thought of your plans?
To be honest I don´t think he would like it since he didn´t care much for happenings, although he did like bathing a lot, so maybe he wouldn´t be that dissatisfied!? It would also allow for him to keep an eye on the mermaids. On the other hand I´m certain he would appreciate the story of the sculpture itself, since it´s right out of Clumsy Hans (Numskull Jack) or the Emperor´s new Clothes.
And you say in your press release that you hope this will become an
annual tradition: great! Do you think the council will object or are
they happy with your plans?
No they will probably hate me, since the happening really portrays the bureaucracy in a poor way. But I do believe and hope that the “resurrection” or exhumation will be a recurring event. Lots of people, who are sad that the sculpture is leaving its current placement in the town square, will be glad to see it return. Besides I have a lot of experience with this kind of happening from all over the world, including China and Mexico where the governments tried to stop me, and I cannot imagine that my own city council would use the police against me. Besides I´m on very good terms with the local police J