Between People
Sculptural installation by Urban DK, glass mosaics on lightweight concrete, six sculptures, each with a length of 70 cm – 2007.
»Everyone is really excited about your ladybirds - they arouse immense enthusiasm in children, and grown-ups are very fascinated with them. The placement is perfect - the politicians are happy

Lisbet Johansen, cultural consultant in Haderslev Municipality

Art project with open workshop
Finished during The Danish Church Days 2007 in Haderslev and presented in Krydderihaven (Garden of Herbs) in Damparken (Dam Park) in Haderslev on 20th May 2007.
Forrige1 af 37Næste
Between People, one of 6 sculptures - in the foreground one of the six ladybirds that represents the art work Between People. In the background you can catch a glimpse of one of the other ladybirds.
Inspiration from the Bible and the themes of the Danish Church Days
Paulus: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Rom. 1,16)

"And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus answered and said: "A man went going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of thieves. They stripped him of his clothes, wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." 
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise".

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luk. 10, 30-37)

Thoughts behind the work
The theme of The Danish Church Days and subjects of portals has inspired to a common art project and workshop that all participants can take part in - the project, which will be a joint memory: A "statement" regarding the whole arrangement, a statement which all who go about in the public, space can enjoy. The project is likely to give food for thought and can create dialogue about humanity and our fundamental values expressed in the Bible - and is meaningful no matter what our nationality is at what our religious, personal, and political beliefs are.

A society has always taken care of its own, it is basically what a society is. What characterizes the Christian community, which Denmark is, believer or not, is, as Jesus tells us, that we reach out and help not only our own citizens or our loved ones, but anyone who needs help. Not that we necessarily has to seek it, but when we meet helpless fellow human beings on our way, we are to help them. And that we do, we think. We help the Tsunami victims, the earthquake victims in Bam, persecuted people applying for asylum and we send out peacekeeping troops. Domestically, we support the Danish Cancer Society, UNICEF, SOS Children's Villages, Red Cross and much more. Is a child lost in the supermarket, we help. We help our old neighbor, who is unable to clean gutters. We help a man at the recycling area in need of lifting a couch off his trailer. We help a tourist unable to find The Little Mermaid. That's how we are.

But on the other hand, there is something that has changed from before, we think. For what if the robbers had been there when the Samaritan came along? Would he still have helped?

Today, there is much talk about whether we should and whether we dare interfere in each others doings. When a child is slapped in the face by his mother in the supermarket, when a colleague puts four packages of corporate coffee in the bag on Friday afternoon, when teenagers put their filthy boots up on the seat on the train, when the drunk father-in-law takes the car home from Easter lunch, when grandpa is dangerous in traffic, but continues to get his license renewed, when a brother supplements public daily allowances with undeclared work, when a bunch of school children throw their candy paper in bus shelters, when a drunkard verbally harms an immigrant mother during her struggle to get the baby carriage out of the bus, when a fellow student single mother fail to disclose to the public authorities the fact that her boyfriend has moved in, when the construction market sells fireworks to two 12-year-olds, when Celeste's mother doesn't fasten Celeste's seat belt in the car when picking her up from the kindergarten.... We all know it. We hesitate if we risk something by helping. Do we dare help the child who is beaten by her mother, the business owner who is being ripped off by an employee, the next passenger on the train getting her clothes dirty, the pedestrian who gets run down by the drunk father-in-law, and she who is scared witless by the grandfather who suddenly has become a ghost driver, those who suffer under the cut-downs on public benefit system because others exploit it, the immigrant who think everyone on the bus agrees with the racist because no one contradicts him, those who are affected by restrictions in residential security benefits because others took advantage of the system, the boys getting severe fireworks injuries due to the construction market's greediness, Celeste, who only reached the age of 4 because her mother didn't bother to fasten her seat belt in the car?

We need to decide when and how much we dare to put at risk to help others. It is easy with the ones who stand closest to us, we will do anything for them. Crossing the borders from our family and friends to our neighbors will be more difficult. The church has a place in the dialogue, a dialogue we constantly must think of. Biblical parables can help us reflect on how we relate to helping and how is relations between people?

An artwork reflecting this
  1. The artwork will consist of a number of bugs made of lightweight concrete and decorated with Italian glass mosaics resembling ladybirds, Colorado beetles and other beetles of the same shape.

  2. It is important that the beetles look the same yet different in their patterns as they symbolize human beings who also are biologically similar but may look very different on the surface.

  3. The individual beetles will be 70 cm long, approx. 58 cm wide and approx. 32 cm high. The beetles are to be anchored in soil making it difficult to steal or knock them over. The non-upside-down beetles will be on a base of approx. 5 cm.

  4. The number of beetles will be determined by the number of participants in the workshop. Though six beetles is the minimum to make the work complete. Six sculptures was completed in the actual project:

    • A ladybird with seven spots, lying upside down.
    • A ladybird with seven spots.
    • A ladybird with five spots.
    • A ladybird with two spots.
    • A kidney-spot ladybird.
    • A Thea vigintiduopunctata, yellow ladybird with black spots.

  5. The beetles are to be placed in a green area, preferably on a lawn, or a cemetery or close to a church. Also Damparken (Dam Park) or some other public space in town would be usable. 

All the beetles are to be placed in normal beetle-crawling-postion and spread out randomly throughout the area close to bushes, trees and the like, providing shelter for the beetles from bird beaks.
However, one ladybird will be placed centrally in the middle of an open area. This ladybird has to be upside down, symbolizing the helpless human being lying uncovered in an open area, easy to snatch for birds. The remaining beetles should then make up their minds whether they dare take the risk and go out into the open area, away from their shelter to help the needy.

The upside down ladybird's belly is a mirror mosaic acting as a mirror for the viewer of the artwork making you realize that a part of the solution of the dilemma is for the individual to put him- or herself in the position of the needy.
The mirror bottom will have a circular edge so it protects children against a sharp edge of glass mosaics.

Motive and materials
The beetles have been chosen as a motive since the symbolism in the different types of beetles are easily understood for everyone - even little children. And the upside down ladybird in need of help, is known and understood by all. The ladybird, like other beetles, is very beautiful, and can be seen even from a distance, and is in multiple languages named after the Virgin Mary (eg. Marienkäfer and Mariehøne), who in medieval folklore protected the animals, and the confidence in her grace and her helping the sick and weak had a major impact on public piety and faith even in the centuries onwards. Furthermore, it's easy to interpret the beloved Danish nursery rhyme "Marie Marie Marolle, flyv op til Vorherre og bed om godt vejr i morgen" (Marie Marie Marolle, fly up to our Lord an and ask for good weather tomorrow), which may raise thoughts and discussions regarding prayers in forums of children and adults. The beautiful beetle with the red cloak is, for example, a bright and strongly positive motive related to Christianity and centuries old symbolism - and is a famous image of living creature that nobody could dream of leaving sprawling on his back without immediately giving a needed helping finger.

As a graffiti artist, I am interested in the new direction within street art - the way you use the urban space to create art in.
I think it is obvious to combine The Danish Church Days 2007 and mosaic art, which is well known in many religious contexts with street art being a brand new art form. At the same time I am very fascinated by the colors of stained glass mosaics, which in many ways resemble the colors used in classic graffiti art.

Senest opdateret 23-09-2010 15:04 af ABJ