Culture and arts are not as easy to put in numbers, however at the Danish Embassy; we recognise that culture and arts play a substantial role in understanding Denmark and Danish society. We call it Cultural Diplomacy.
When you see pictures of various receptions and meetings, it is often hard to tell them apart. That is not the case when you have a reception filled with guests from the world of art. The clothes are more colourful, the glasses have abnormal shapes and there are definitely more hats. In mid-October we had such an event at the residence, celebrating Danish arts.
When the ambassador moved into the residence, so did a new art project: Art in Embassy. Art in Embassy displays 37 pieces of art from 14 different artist. All of them tell a story about everyday life in Danish or societal developments. The art has been chosen to build an obvious platform for discussions about Danish arts and culture; because culture and arts reflect our society.
Diplomacy is more than politics
Especially the piece ‘Types of Relations’ by Mette Winckelmann is often up for discussions when the ambassador has diplomatic event at the residence. It is a flag but often not in the eyes of Americans. Let us call it a deconstructed flag.
“The deconstructed flag has a unique way to start a conversation, because it brings out a lot of emotions. It doesn’t matter if you are Danish or American, it doesn’t matter if you are a republican or a democrat, if you are a politician or a businessman. The art makes room for conversations that is founded in something other than politics and brings up interesting conversations. That is why Cultural Diplomacy is important,” the ambassador says.
Art pieces like this spur conversations about flags, but also about nationality, about values, about what is Danish and why that is.
Two of the Danish artists on display through Art in Embassy visited Washington DC. The visit of Rose Eken and Camilla Reyman gave a unique possibility to brand the project and the Danish cultural scene. To celebrate the Danish arts and worldwide culture, an event was held Monday October 16th as a part of the Art in Embassy project, hosting 80 people from the art world.
A reflection of Denmark
An obvious question asked at such an event is ‘What is Danish culture and arts?’
That is indeed a good question and it is hard to single out what defines Danish culture; it is simply hard to narrow down. We are have had international success within everything from movies and TV-shows to fine cuisine and obviously Danish design, which is branding Denmark around the globe. However, the question of what Danish culture and arts are is a question we, through the Art in Embassy project make sure to discuss often.
Danish society and the values we stand for are clearly reflected in culture and art. It is an important way of understanding Denmark, why the project is of great importance to the Ambassador. Danish design often refers to the classics from the mid-20th century drawn by Arne Jacobsen or Finn Juhl, and these are examples that proudly furnish the Embassy. Fortunately, Danish culture and arts did not stop developing in the 60s. Art in Embassy display the result of this development and reflect the same development in Danish society.
Both Camilla Reyman and Rose Eken, artists in Art in Embassy, are currently displaying a store front exhibition here in Washington DC called Aloud, which was promoted through the reception too in collaboration with Transformer Gallery – a large arts organization in DC.