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Stories from ear to eye
 
 
 by Asbjorn Lonvig, artist/designer
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You try to imagine how it will be to be together with and work with a group of refugees in an
Red Cross Center.
This week there has been 14  art workshops.
Each refugee has chosen which art workshop he or she would like to attend.
My art workshop was defined as follows:
 
"In January 2002 I will be a Visiting Teacher in a project called "Stories, from ear to eye" where I will inspire refugees to create a huge sculpture and make an exhibition of this sculpture. Then they are artists, not refugees. At the same time I will interview these new artists about their lives, print these stories and put them inside the sculpture. The stories will be presented in an e-book on my web site and preferably on Red Cross' web site too.
My idea is to make a huge sculpture in simple shapes and bright colors, an optimistic sculpture and put  the refugees' bad memories inside the sculpture. Not to forget their past, it can not be forgotten, bud to make a emblem in their minds, which will pop up before or at the same time as the bad memories. The e-book will be illustrated by a lot of pictures of the genesis of the sculpture. The sculpture will be built of water proof materials in order to be exhibited outdoor later.
I know these are high ambitions, but that is what art is for.
A part of the project is of course to communicate this vision to the Danish Society - that is why we make the exhibition. Jørgen Chemnitz, Red Cross Denmark and The Chairman of the Cultural, Randers Kommune will be asked to  open the exhibition."
 
See my drafts of the sculpture
 
 Materials:
Wood plates  244 cm x 122 cm x 1,5 cm  x 3  per box x 12 boxes
Wood laths 1,22 m lath x 8 each box  12 boxes (later altered to 12 lathes per box)
Painting (1,22 m x 1,22 m)  x 6 surfaces x 12 boxes (twice)
Glue, screws etc.
 
 
To assure myself that these boxes were not a figment of the imagination
I have made one sample box.
 
The result showed that it was possible to
produce a durable box as a part of a huge sculpture.
Some alterations of the design however was made, the box became to big in size 122 x 122  x 122 cm and the size was altered to 100 x 100 x 100 cm. Some procedures was altered too.
The day of workshop start was 14th January 2002.
4 young lads fully fitting the media's descriptions of young refugees
entered the peristyle where the workshop was to take place.
Elvis was the name of the most noisy, loud screaming and with a self promoting attitude.
Abazi was the name of another young lad with the sun glasses placed in the neck to look cool.
3 giggling girls stood in a corner by themselves.
Then came 9 men. Yes, this was the place where the sculpture workshop should take place.
They entered quietly, they had a wait and se attitude but without skepticism.
Morten and I had made drawings of the construction.
 
Instruction in constructing the sculpture
in general
 
Each box is made out of 3 wood plates of the size 1,5 x 122 x 244 cm.
Use the 2 templets in 3 mm paperboard, one templet size  99,9 x 99,9 cm to the button, top and sides, that is 4 parts, and one templet of the size 99,9 x 96,9 cm for the two ends.
 
For each box you must use 8 latches size 82,5 cm and 4 latches of the size 100 cm.
From the edge of the wooden plate to the lath there must be 1,5 cm to make room for the sides.
 
 
 Translations:
"Bund og topplade", button and top plate
"altid retside udad", always the right side on the surface of the box
 
___________________________________________________________
 
Assembling of plates and lathes
 
You must use 16 screws on all sides. Use the screw machine.
That is 96 screws to each box.
Remember: A layer of glue Bostik Super Trälim 730 UTE between plates and lathes.
 
  Translations:
"Bund og topplade", button and top plate
"set fra retsiden", seen from the right side
"med angivelse af skruer", number and placement of screws
 ____________________________________________________
 
Assembling of sides and ends
 
As the button has been assembled and the glue is dry, you can assemble the sides and the ends.
Use 4 lathes size 100 cm as posts in each corner.
Remember that the right side becomes the surface of the box.
 
 Translations:
"Endeplade", end plate
"Sideplade", side plate
Bundplade", button plate
"retsiden udad", right side out
"retsiden nedad", right side down
 
 
  __________________________________
 
Filling and painting
 You fill with Åffa Universal filler.
Most important is to fill where the plates are assembled.
All edges are painted one extra time with painting Hygæa Træ & Facader gloss 10.
All sides of the box is painted twice with the painting Hygæa Træ & Facade gloss 10.
 
 
 
 
Best regards and enjoy the work
Morten and Asbjørn
 
________________________________________________________________
 
Monday 14th January 2002
 
We had coffee and the very Danish crusty rolls with butter.
I introduced myself and the teacher Morten. I told about the the project. To built a sculpture, write each refugee's story, put it into the boxes and make this e-book.
Soon the men became impatient. No more talking. Now they had to start to work.
 
And they worked.
They slaved.
They talked.
They argued.
They gesticulated.
They shouted.
I just stood besides watching.
Listening.
Now and then I whispered some advice.
But before long the studio was working at full blast.
The young lads worked hard.
The girls were filling and sanding the surfaces.
It was the most beautiful inferno of loud noises from saw machines, screw machines, gliding machines,
hammers, a smell of sawdust, a smell of glue and sweat.
Dust.
A split second of collective happiness.
The halogen lamps with 3 x 300 watt were lightening in competition with the eagerness in the artist's eyes.
Artist (in Danish kunstner) was written on the big badge, that we had given to each of them.
Armin, kunstner - Elvis, kunstner - Abazi, kunstner etc.
And they talked. New methods were developed......
An involvement that I had never seen before. Or heard before.
A Danish Union would probably have demanded the folks to slow down a little.
And the machines worked so hard that the fuses were blown.
As a souvenir I have taken the 3 fuses that we blew with me home and placed them in my studio.
Remembering those moments.
 
Everybody had a welcome brake.
The girls were burned out and did not return after the brake.
But the lads and the men returned as we had new fuses installed and worked even harder.
 
The production of the boxes was now systematized in a way that would make the conditions
of production in Detroit's car factories look like a play schedule in an after school center.
As we had finished work, we shook hands.
Good by, se you tomorrow.
The young lads, who had amused themselves with our digital camera,
stayed for a wile to drink a cup of coffee and to talk.
I had brought my Geographica - a huge atlas with even the smallest town mentioned.
Elvis became Elvis Hot from Bijelo Polje in Montenegro, Abazi became Arif Abazi  from Prizen in Kosovo and Belgrade. And Armin became Armin Pasanovic from Bijeljina.
I look forward to tomorrow.
I look forward to know the people better.
The girls will make 12 paperboard models of the sculpture parts
so that we can simulate placement of the boxes before the exhibition.
 
From the real world the story of today was that Morten say good by to two of his pupils in 8th grade.
The pupils cried.
Yes, of course they cried.
In the evening their mother and three other brothers and sisters were informed by the police that they would be picked up and expelled the next day.... to Kosovo.
 
Photo of the day
Arif
"I am Irresistible - don't you think"
 
Comes from Prizen in Kosovo. He has come to Denmark together with his family, his father Abas Abaziblev, his mother Fema and his younger brother Alsir.
Arif is 16 years old and attends 10th grade in the Red Cross Center's school.
He came to Denmark 25th July 2001.
His father was a baker (you will hear more about him later).
He belongs to the ethnic minority Goran.
 
________________________________________________________________________________
 
Tuesday 15th January 2002
 
All men, young lads and girls were very enthusiastic this morning.
I made a paperboard model of a box together with the girls, just to show them how to do. And I told them the purpose of this little project.
 
 They were very proud when they presented the first box of their own.
They were however a little bit sad to have glue on their fingernails.
And later they asked me to cut the paperboard.
It is hard work to cut in 3 mm paperboard.
 
When the girls  have finished the 12 models they are painted
red, yellow, green and blue as shown on my draft.
 
The first wooden box was finished today. It was the men's box.
Shouts of joy, as at a basket ball match.
 
"We are the champions..............".
 
The young lads worked hard too, and they had a lot of fun.
 
And here is the young lads first box.
 
 
Kasim, Meho, ...., Mimin, Cseki and Bahir
Then the men's second triumph.
 
And the young lad's second triumph.
The young lads had reinforcement from Germany, Nico.
He joined the group and was accepted at once.
That is the refugee way.
 
Nico.
 
Photo of the day
"Who are cool?"
___________________________________________________________________________________
 
Wednesday 16th January 2002
 
Panic!!!!!!!
We were run out of screws tuesday afternoon.
The men shrug their shoulders, smiled forbearing towards me and went home.
1000 new screws solved the problem and our turbo factory could continue it's production.
When something starts at 9.00 AM in the morning, then it is the time when you leave home?
Or is it the time you eat your breakfast?
It depends very much on your cultural background.
This knowledge I wish I had had years ago.
And the girls did not show up today. Something with the stomach.
The lads and the men showed up, drank a cup of coffee, talked.
And suddenly they began to work. One after the other. Quietly.
Today's lesson (to me): Punctuality has no effect on productivity.
 
Yesterday I helped Mimin's brother sawing a pole. 6 cm.
Today he saluted me smiling, squeezed my arm, praised my work, we were friends for ever.
That is the refugee way.
 
Mimin
 
 
Mimin and his pall Abas Abaziblev made a coffee table after hours.
As they had finished the coffee table Mimin and his friend sat down to drink a cup of coffee with me.
Mimin gave me a cigarette, dear me it was strong.
The feeling of accepting that kind of gift from people that do not have much is special.
A split second of happiness, again!
Earlier today I was offered a cigarette from Cseki.
They do not understand Danish. I do not understand Serbo-Croatian.
But seldom have I had more meaningful conversations!
 
Morten wrote a letter in Albanian, Serbo-Croatian and Danish. In the letter we asked for the stories to put into the boxes and to put in this e-book.
One of the men said to me that it would give him problems as we asked him to write his name  in the beginning of the story.
I tried to convince him and with Elvis Hot as an interpreter we had a somewhat heated discussion.
But a few moments later the same man smiled to me,
he came to me when I was filling and painting and said to me "il maestro".
I do not think these people can bear a grudge.
They express their true meaning. They live right now. Nothing more.
I thought for a long time about this dispute.
How silly am I allowed to be?
As a Dane I am not able to imagine if he puts his own or his family's lives in jeopardy if his name and story was exhibited on the internet.
Sure it is vital for him to have asylum.
I dropped my plan to take a photo of each refugee to be presented  together with their story.
Again, how silly am I allowed to be?
Who are learning things?
I am!
 
 Abazi, Amin, Alen, Elvis and Nico
A well earned brake.
The young lads had now developed a teamwork that I never have seen before.
And in the end of the day they proudly announced: "4 boxes in one day".
There is a tremendous potential in these young people.
 
Elvis Hot is very interested in anything concerning computers - I hardly could keep him away from my computer during the workshop.
God thanks we had not connected it to the Internet!
Elvis Hot is 17 years old. He is born in Montenegro in Bijelo Polje.
He was 7 years old as his family moved to Turkey.
He lived in Turkey for 7 years until an earthquake hit Istanbul.
They slept in tents at night because they were afraid of new earthquakes.
After three days he, his father and sister flew to Bosnian where they stayed for 3 month.
They stayed with a friend of his father's.
Then a tough journey to Denmark.
3 days through Slovenia, 3 days through Italy and 3 days through Germany.
Then he applied for asylum in Denmark and stayed for 10 days i the Sandholm camp.
That was in 1999.
Elvis Hot speaks English, Danish, Turkish and Serbo-Croatian.
He attends the school in the Red Cross' Center in Randers. His great wish is to go to high school.
 
 Boxes, boxes, boxes.
The production of the day was enormous. Now we have made 9 boxes.
We have a problem, a nice problem however.
It is hard to find space for storing the big boxes.
 
Teacher Morten talks to teacher Else.
 
Photo of the day
"What then - girls?"
_______________________________________________________________________________
 
Thursday 17th January 2002
 
The men and the lads arrived in the same manner as the other mornings.
Same procedure.
We shook hands, drank coffee, started working.
We all felt a relief. It was obvious now that we could reach our goals.
Morten and I learned the men and the lads how to fill, how to sand, how to paint.
We had a visitor from the Red Cross Press Center in Copenhagen.
A journalist will tell a story about all the 14 workshops.
A link will be made from Red Cross' web site to this e-book.
Danish Red Cross has the web site address www.redcross.dk.
The E-mail address to the journalist is jna@redcross.dk.
The Roman Bathir asked me how many children I had. I told him that I had 3 sons. "You are a rich man".
He was very surprised when I told him that Morten was my eldest son.
Bahir then told me he had 5 children, sons and daughters back in Kosovo.
 Abas Abaziblev who helped Mimin yesterday with his coffee table joined our group and painted enthusiastically.
An friend of Abas joined us too. He was able to speak English.
 Omer was the friend's name.
He told me that Abas was a baker and that i served his apprenticeship with Abas.
The principal asked me if I would make a new sculpture project.
I said yes, and we will talk about it later.
I drew to the place where the exhibition is taking place.
To see the conference room of Underværket.
It is 8,27 x  16 meters. And 5 meters to the ceiling.
There was a huge screen.
Morten and I have decided that we will make a wall sheet with this e-book and one slide to the huge screen.
And no more.
The sculpture and its story can stand alone. We need no electronic wonders.
Even not a computer.
People with computer access is given a paper with the web site addresses,
in Danish http://www.lonvig.dk/e-bog.htm  and
in English http:// www.lonvig.dk/e-book.htm.
 
Abas, Nezdet, Mimin and Omer.
 
In the afternoon 4 men came to the workshop asking politely if they might work a little,
if they might make the last box.
Of course, I said, I will stay as long as you.
One of them was Omer, who in English told me:
"They all come from Kosovo, all of them live in the Dragas - the place is called the Gora.
 They belong to an ethnic group Goran. Goran means highlanders.
They live in the mountains Shar planina end Koritnik.
2400 meters over sea level.
Now we listen to Goran music, typical Balcan music.
In the past, that is 100 years ago there were approximately 40.000 people in Goran.
Before the war there were 25.000 inhabitants.
Now the population has been reduced to approximately 6.500, all of them old men and women,
everybody else are refugees.
Goran people are proud and skillful people.
It is the area in Ex-Joguslavia with most shops".
 
The art of taking brakes.
Even Morten takes a (short) brake.
 
The art of taking brakes regardless others are working.
 
 
Mimin, Kasim, Bahir, Mimin's brother and Ramiz know the art of taking brakes.
Discussing politics, soccer and everything else.
 
 
Morten has not yet quite learned the art of taking brakes.
A Red Cross employee told me, that someone was interested in exhibiting the sculpture after the exhibition in Underværket i Randers.
 
Photo of the Day
"Snap Shot - Morten takes a brake"
 
________________________________________________________________________________
 
Friday 18th January 2002
 
We had a meeting with the interpreter Smajo at 9 AM. And now we could talk. It was a pleasant redemption after one week of communication by gesticulation, a little bit of Danish, a little bit of German a lot of Serbo-Croatian and a lot of friendliness.
I told the men and the lads about the sculpture and the importance of putting their own stories into the boxes an on the Internet.
Everybody's highest wish is of course to have asylum in Denmark.
Morten and I will accept a wish to remain anonymous and a wish to be on the Internet or not even in the boxes.
Of course
Saturdays I red an article in my local paper about a Dane who had been in a German work camp during World War II.
Never before he had been able to tell or write about his traumatic experiences in Germany.
To most refugees it is however important to write down their more or less traumatic stories.
Only one self knows when.
Today Tuesday 22nd of January 2002, I was in Randers to make the last preparations before the sculpture is moved.
A refugee, not one from our group, not one the girl, not one the lads, not one of the men, came to me and asked if he might tell his story and have it put into the boxes and on the Internet.
Fridays Morten and I talked to an Iranian refugee that might be interested too.
Morten is  class teacher 8th grade of refugee children. They want to be in too.
Then we had this idea:
 every refugee in the world, who want to join our art work can do so.
Just write your story and e-mail it to lonvig@mail.dk
Then we will print it and put it into the boxes and put it on the Internet.
Do not hesitate to do it in your own language even if our e-book is in Danish and English only.
So far.
Sooner or later someone will read your story and interpret into Danish or English and e-mail the translation to lonvig@mail.dk.
Then your story is on the Internet in your own language and in Danish and English.
Remember this:
Our art work consists of a combination of the sculpture and this e-book.
And
if you join the creation of our art work by sending your story or a translation of one already in the e-book
you yourself will
become an ARTIST.
 
Some comments from refugees during our meeting with the interpreter:
"We do not know our legal position"
"We feel it hard to read those papers we receive even if they are in our own language - we want verbal information"
"We stay too long in the camps"
"We can not stand the uncertainty - it is hard to stay mentally healthy"
 
"They can as well shoot me now, if I can not have asylum,
 I do not have a country to return back to".
 
 Arif, the interpreter and Ramiz
 
 
Bahir and the interpreter
 
 
During the day we worked with filling, painting the last boxes,
talking to people from TV  and other good people.
 
Morten is finishing the art work.
No wonder he looks tired, he has made a tremendous effort
to succeed with this art workshop.
 
Photo of the Day
"Who is he - an artist?"
 
____________________________________________________________________________________
 
Thursday 24th January 2002
 
   
 
Back
in my studio, gallery and private home in Hedensted I got a little help from my friends.
Second grade from Stjernevejens school was working with geometric shapes in
art classes.
They visited me on a rainy day.
18 pupils and 2 teachers built the model.
I think it is beautiful.
The sculpture is ready for exhibition.
I believe we all had a splendid day in spite of the weather.
 
Yes, it is beautiful.
But as we looked at it from behind the two red boxes on the ground had to be separated and  displaced.
Suddenly an exit appeared.
An exit of a labyrinth?
Or an entrance?
 For sure you have to bend down and even crawl on your knees to get through.
Have I heard this story before?
 
An unforgettable experience for the girls, the young lads, the men
and teacher Morten and me.
An I learned "the refugee way"!
 
Sincerely yours,
Asbjørn Lønvig, artist
"Lille Fejringhus"
Hedensted, Denmark
 
 
 
 
___________________________________________________________________________________
 
The exhibition of all the 14 projects and the sculpture
takes place
Monday 28th January to Friday 1st February 2002
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
in arts center "Underværket" in Randers, Denmark.
Grand opening Monday 28th at 11 a.m.
Everybody must come.
 
..........and we gather the young lads and the men, Morten and Asbjørn
Sunday 27th January 10 a.m.
to transport the boxes from the Red Cross Center to "Underværket".
Morten has rented a truck. We want to be sure, that the boxes are transported safely and not be harmed in any way.
____________________________________________________________________________
 
Sunday 27th January 2002
I started form "Lille Fejringhus" at 8 a.m. and I picked Morten up in Aarhus.
Then we drew to Randers to hire a truck.
9 men were waiting for at 9.45 a.m.
Did I say anything about refugee's lack of punctuality?
We welcomed the men.
They smiled.
In less than half an hour we loaded the truck with 12 boxes.
Morten took 2 of the men into the truck, I took 1 into my van and 4 followed us in a taxi.
We drew to Underværket.
The men unloaded the truck in minutes.
I had placed the model in one end of the conference hall.
The men built as I orchestrated.
It was beautiful.
The man from the art center Underværket did not come. Tomorrow I will meet a little before 11 a.m. in order to fix the the slides, 2 spots on the printed e-book and a CD with Balcan music.
We finished at 6 p.m., delivered the truck and drew to Aarhus. I just had time for a drink of very cold water and said hi to Morten's wonderful child, that is my grandchild,  Lucca and Morten's wonderful wife Trine.
 
I am so tired now, but everything is too exiting to go to bed.
I have reported to Mardox net, and FFANET that
"Now Red Cross has hired me to continue my work - the concept has proven to  be successful.
Does your company need a Red Cross refugee's huge sculpture designed by me and made professionally
together with refugees. Your donation will be visible to everybody as a sculpture art work consists of to sculpture and an
e-book about the entire creation, from start to finish.
Concerning Red Cross refugee's sculpture.
It has been erected, it is beautiful. It is a tremendous success.
And I have updated my portfolio at WWAR.COM (World Wide Art Resources, the world's greatest gateway to art)
with the same information.
 ____________________________________________________________________________
 
Monday 28th January 2002
...it is today
the grand opening i Underværket, Randers.
In the news of today was, on the front page of World Wide Art Resources (the world picture and a short notice
referring to an article.
In the the article was referred på this e-book and to me as a premiere portfolio at WWWAR.
A tecnichen came.
An the great sound system were tuned in.
Balcan music.
A print of the e-book on the stage.
And a overhead of the men and the young lads.
 
 
The model of the sculpture and the drum team were ready.

Some of the proud artists were ready.
Elvis Hot's father to the right.
 
 The sculpture has been painted here and there.
Morten works hard - as always - making the last preparations.
He is opening one of the blue boxes to show to the world,
that there are realy refugee's stories inside.
 
A lot of people has arrived.
 
Jørgen Chemnitz arrived.
First Vicky the head teacher spoke.
She thanked the artists.
Drumbeat.
The teachers.
Drumbeat.
Everybody who had made this exhibition possible.
Drumbeat.
Then Jørgen Chemnitz from Røde Kors Denmark made a speech.
Once more drumbeat.
And he opened the exhibition.
Drumbeeeeeeeeeeeat.
 
The crowd was exited.
A great success.
 
You can't imagine the men's joy.
As Bahir from the men's team saw the overhead,
The print of the e-book.
In that same room as the sculpture.
Hearing the sound of Balcan music from those very huge loudspeakers.
He spontaneously kneeled down in front of me with  his hands on the ground.
Can anybody achieve higher appreciation in this life?
Bahir has a great sense of humor.
But somewhere deep in his heart I knew what he felt.
I ruffled his hair and we laughed.
______
 
And where was Fema's son?
Abas Abaziblev's son?
Alsir's brother?
Of course.
I found him in the crowd.
Surrounded by beautiful girls.
 
 Arif and his four "cousins".
_____
 
I wonder.
 
Why do the children climb the sculpture??????
I think they like it.
A feeling of joy.
I talked to Jørgen Chemnitz.
 
Afterwards I talked to Vicky about continuing this work.
We all agree we have to one
way
or the other.
 
You can read more about this project
in an article written by journalist Jette Nørby Andersen, Red Cross Denmark,
in the top story from 28th January 2002 on Absolutearts.com,
article in the newspaper Randers Amtsavis on 29th january 2002,
ask for more press coverage.
 
 

 
My way - I am proud of doing it my way.
 
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