Forever Christiania

Portraying a living utopia


Name: Maja Daniels
Nationality: Swedish
Profession: Photographer


In her series called Christiania (2009), Maja Daniels - a Swedish photographer currently based in London - explores the historical Freetown of Christiania, situated at the heart of Copenhagen (Denmark) and proposes “a contemporary reflection on the interactive Community of Christiania, focusing on its new generation, its neighbours, visitors and ecological modernisation” [2].

“Christiania provides both a feeling of freedom and a feeling of community” [1]

Founded in 1971 by a handful of people, in 2016 Christiania celebrated its 45th birthday with the death of a young Dane involved in the cannabis trade and a radical compromise: the installation of police cameras in its famous Pusher Street.
Like in most of her recent works - emphasising on social behaviors, human relationships and togetherness - Maja Daniels captures the town’s most intimate aspects through a series of portraits of the commune’s inhabitants and their daily environment.

Home to approximately 850 people, this “living avant-garde utopia” [2] has proven to be one of the most long lasting communes of its time, “where all aspects of life are integrated, like a microcosm (...) based on [an experimental and] practical bottom-up approach” [3].

The crucial aspect of this so-called “bottom-up approach” are the unconventional houses and ephemeral structures conceived and built by the inhabitants themselves. They constitute Christiania’s odd and eclectic identity and “caught the attention of urban planners worldwide, as a successful example of the benefits of “anti-planning” [3] and of urban communality.

By exploring how - despite being under constant threat of “expulsion and normalisation” - Christiania “continues to invests in the future” [2] with its own singularity, collective freedom and contradictions, Maja Daniels proposes a contrasted portrayal of the self-proclaimed commune.







All images © Maja Daniels

[1] Dahlin, 2008, in Anna Jorgensen and Richard Keenan (ed.), Urban Wildscapes, Routledge, Oxon, 2012; [2] [3] Tania Orum and Jesper Olsson (ed.), A Cultural History of the Avant-Garde in the Nordic Countries 1950-1975, 2016;

Published: 16 Jan. 2017

#Storytellers #MajaDaniels #Photography #Architecture #DropEverything #Offbeat #Christiania

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