Superflex

Superflex

A Cool Urban Space

"Let’s meet on the red square.” The artists behind Superkilen explain how this colorful wedge shaped public park in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a collaboration based on extreme civic participation.

A public park in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, Denmark, Superkilen was developed by artists’ group Superflex in collaboration with architectural firms Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Topotek1. The park was officially opened in June 2012.

In this interview two members of Superflex, Jakob Fenger and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, tell us about the ideas behind the project, and how it came about as an extreme example of citizen inclusion and collaboration: "We found it interesting to look at this very diverse group of people in regard to culture, social standing, nationality, etc., and then see it as a rich and significant foundation for impacting the area these people live in."

The people living in the immediate vicinity Superkilen relate to more than 50 different nationalities. The idea for the project was to create a space which reflected the people living in the area, by letting the locals suggest object from public spaces around the world. Many of the objects in the park have been specially imported or copied from foreign designs. They include swings from Iraq, benches from Brazil, a fountain from Morocco and litter bins from England. There are neon signs from throughout the world advertising everything from a Russian hotel to a Chinese beauty parlour. Even the manhole covers come from Zanzibar, Gdansk and Paris. In all, there are 108 plants and artifacts illustrating the ethnic diversity of the local population.

"We did what we termed extreme civic involvement. We talked to various groups that we had talked to before and asked: What if you could pick whatever you want for Superkilen – and we go out to find it next week?” Five groups of people traveled to Palestine, Spain, Thailand, Texas and Jamaica in order to acquire five specific objects. The objects have since been installed throughout the park. But, as Superflex explain, Superkilen is "not just a feel-good social project, it also has a strict conceptual frame. It started out with three colors. We defined 3 very marked symbolic surfaces that are to have a signal value in the public domain." The idea was to create referral points, meeting places, based on strong signals and values.

Stretching some 750 metres (2,460 ft) along either side of a public cycle track and covering a total area of some 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft), Superkilen is an urban park project in Copenhagen divided into three main areas: The Red Square, The Black Market and The Green Park. While The Red Square designates the modern, urban life with café, music and sports, The Black Market is the classic square with fountain and benches. The Green Park is a park for picnics, sports and walking the dog.

Superkilen was rewarded with a 2013 AIA Honor Award in the Regional & Urban Design category by the American Institute of Architects. It is shortlisted for Design of the Year by the Design Museum in London as well as for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.

Superflex is a Danish artists' group founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen. Superflex describe their projects as "tools", inviting people to participate in and communicate the development of models that alter production conditions. Often the projects are assisted by experts who bring in their special interest, these tools can then be further used and modified by their users.

Superflex has gained international recognition for their projects, participating in international arts biennials such as the Gwangju biennial in Korea, Istanbul Biennial, São Paulo Biennial, Shanghai Biennial and in the "Utopia Station" exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Superflex were interviewed at their headquarters in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, by Jonas Hjort, 2013

Camera: Jonas Hjort and Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Sara Laub
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Riad Sattouf

    Advice to Young Cartoonists

    Watch the acclaimed cartoonist Riad Sattouf draw while sharing his advice for colleagues: “Be careful with advice, it’s not always good. Find your own way of expressing yourself, everything is acceptable, there’s no one good way to draw or not draw.”

  • Jean-Marc Bustamante

    The Notion of Landscape

    “I think art is not very useful, it’s a question of what you feel.” Watch the acclaimed French artist and photographer Jean-Marc Bustamante, who merges photography and painting, and whose starting point is always the concept of landscape.

  • John Giorno

    A Visit to the Poet

    “Poetry never dies. You can’t kill poetry.” We called on John Giorno – one of the most influential figures in contemporary performance poetry – in his legendary home on the Bowery in New York, to talk about the innate freedom and possibilities of poetry.

  • John Giorno

    Inside William Burroughs' Bunker

    Step inside ‘The Bunker’ in New York, the windowless former apartment of legendary writer William S. Burroughs, and let yourself be guided around – from Burroughs’ typewriter to his shooting target – by its current resident, iconic poet John Giorno.

  • Colson Whitehead

    I Have to Know the Destination

    “I became a writer once I realised no one liked my stuff.” Watch Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey’s favourite author, Pulitzer Prize-winning Colson Whitehead, on how rejections of his first stab at a novel made him realize that he wanted to pursue writing.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • 11 Artists

    First Encounter with Art

    “That was the beginning of my film and photography career – my first image ended up under the Russian soldier’s boot.” Watch Jonas Mekas, Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Gerhard Richter and 7 other acclaimed artists on how they began their career.

  • Ulay

    How I Stole a Painting

    The story of one of the most radical performances in art history told by German artist Ulay, who in 1976 decided to steal Hitler’s favorite painting from Berlin’s national museum and hang it in the home of a Turkish immigrant family.