Maja Daniels – Christiania
Update: “My project text is a bit dated though, since the Christianites acually finally settled an agreement with the government last month. They were offered to buy the land for a generous price (considering the market value). More than 700 adult residents will form a trust or housing association to make the purchase, and then continue to push the area forward as an alternative society with common ownership. This is a big step in the history of Christiania and it goes hand in hand with my story since it focuses on the “modern” developments of the community.”
“Christiania is the Western world’s longest existing alternative society, an autonomous community in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ruled according to codes outside of conventional law and order, Christiania is a self-proclaimed ‘Freetown’, governed by its own organization.
Founded in 1971 by a group of hippies, its inhabitants of around 900 people are currently facing an existential and property rights crisis. The social experiments ageing population of 1960s counterculturalists are fighting a less tolerant government as well as an intensified commercial property interest of the area, situated right in the middle of Copenhagen’s most attractive neighbourhoods.
Freedom goes hand in hand with ownership in the Western world. The domestic sphere is often seen as the ultimate resort of privacy. Within the boundaries of “home” we have the right to express our freedom and individuality in any way we want since we have bought ourselves the right to do so.
What differentiates The Freetown from the rest of the Western society today is mainly the “Christianite” attitude towards ownership of housing, a system that they oppose in order to “contest the capitalist stranglehold of individuality and identity”.
As a result, its alternative existence causes trouble for public institutions such as law, order and function, which depend on a homogeneous organization of society and its inhabitants.
The Danish Eastern High Court decided in May 2009 that the government was within its powers to re-assert control over the area. The residents, however, believe that the state’s (until now) acceptance of their occupation has given them de facto rights to the neighbourhood. They have appealed the case to the Supreme Court for a final decision.
Despite the constant threat of closure and normalization, the community continues to invest in the future. The initial hippie commune have been reinforced by a hard working mixed population of “alternativists” who are busy developing local businesses and giving hordes of tourists guided tours. The Freetown attracts around one million visiting tourists every year since Christiania has become a pertinent and rare example of an alternative domestic organisation. This series aspires to be a contemporary reflection on the interactive Community of Christiania, focusing on its new generation, its neighbours, visitors and ecological modernisation.”
more images and other interesting projects on Maja Daniels’ website