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A day in the life of an artist, wearing a silk shirt and leggings

05.05.2020

I’ve worn my white silk shirt with the fabric buttons with my leggings, but couldn’t be bothered to iron it. It’s not on quite straight – a half solution – but there are no online meetings today. My future concerts are cancelled, and I won’t be performing again until October, so I’ll focus on writing music and lyrics to Leonora Christina Skov’s novel, Den der lever stille. It’s important that I’m properly dressed, although today I only have to contact 92 applicants to the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Art and Culture Programme.

Danish Minister for Culture Joy Mogensen stated that when she was young, she loved the album Absolute Music 2. This statement resulted in a raft of cultural figures and journalists accusing her of having poor taste. We love this kind of cultural outrage here in Denmark. In the same article, Mogensen also stated that she plays classical piano, but this has been overlooked, of course.  This is my sixth week of sitting in my bedroom in our apartment on the old part of Islands Brygge in Copenhagen. I’ve stacked three large pillows and a book under my computer here in bed. I’m not used to spending so much time with my family. In one sense its quite liberating – work and leisure flow together and the pace of life is stretched out over the days, while the arrival and departure hall is closed. A few cars pass outside, but otherwise it’s quiet out there. Isolation makes me feel a little more normal, strangely, now that everyone’s shopping at SuperBrugsen with their birds-nest hair at weird and wonderful times of the day.

Many of my colleagues are holding online concerts on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook, and I feel a little stressed that I ought to be doing something similar. A drive-in concert venue has been created in Aarhus. We watch Sweden’s coronavirus strategy closely – it’s like the fraternal comparisons of football. Sweden versus Denmark – who is most exemplary? Who’s the winner now and in the long run? All cultural life in Denmark is closed at least until 10 May, with major events, festivals, etc. banned until at least September. We know that cultural life will be the last to open up. Although this has caused a lot of heartache, our community singing, literature, film, online visits to museums and the like, show just how much we crave such experiences. Art and culture are precisely what bring us together in times of crisis like this.

Last night I watched the Royal Danish Theatre’s three-hour long ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet with my children. It was free of charge, which is perhaps the most unsustainable consequence of the coronavirus for art and culture. Although the most popular free creators can still generate income, no content producer can make a living from free art experiences in the long run. And this is why the consumption patterns created by the coronavirus require new business models if they are to continue once society starts to reopen.

We’re out of crispbread, I’m told. Why should my children constantly butter their food without putting the butter back in the fridge? We have failed in our parenting. My husband makes a disproportionate amount of noise with the chairs in the kitchen.  Be quiet, all of you, while I record something on the piano that I’ve composed. Thank you.

Kristina Holgersen
Composer, singer and music expert in the Nordic Council of Ministers Culture and Art Programme

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