Composer and Performer Louise Alenius created a “miniature” – a 20-minute long musical performance developed site and time specific to the garden behind Hans Christian Andersen’s Childhood Home. I contacted her, because of her often extremely delicate work. I was interested in exploring the impermanence and fragility in Andersen’s fairy tales, in particular in his plant tales. The garden behind the childhood home is full of flowers and plants from his fairy tales and at the end of August – at the time of the year where growth starts to give way to the desperate colours of fall, where life turns and summer is at its end the garden became an almost magical space. In the twilight evening of late August, we wanted to create a delicate experience of impermanence so vital in many of Andersen’s tales.
The story of the teapot was of special significance to the project. The idea was that loss and impermanence also create an in-between space where new things can emerge. Just as the Teapot finds meaning in life when it as a broken pot gives new life to something other.
In Andersen’s tales, the sense of loss and fragility is often shown by pointing to how the end is a part of all stories and life itself: “No more, nothing more. All stories come to an end”, as Andersen writes at the end of The Fir Tree. We were interested in that moment when everything ends when the words fade and there is something new emerging. So Alenius and I cut up all the endings from Andersen’s tales and she collected them anew and glued them together as shards that formed a completely new work.
Louise Alenius used few and simple tools to create an experience where even the slightest gesture found meaning: The fragility of standing 20 people hoarded together in Andersen’s childhood home filled with hundreds of teacups everywhere; shards clicking together as fleeting seconds; tea spilt at the feet of the visitors; a teacup balancing on the tips of two fingers before it falls, breaks and is glued together into a new piece of continuously mutating work; Alenius’ voice messing endings from Andersen’s fairy tales; and two opera singers who only sings rarely and when they do, they only sing about how everything must end; the visitors left in the darkness at the end.