The wandering human

In the period from 2023 – 2025, Teatret Det Olske Orkester plans to create the theater project The Wandering Human in collaboration with a team of Greenlandic and Danish performing artists and academics. The work runs over 3 years and includes research, study trips, production of the performance, performance period, tour and various side projects such as artist talks, workshops and, not least, studies and exchange regarding teaching material about Greenland in high school.
The show is suitable for everyone aged 12 and up and premieres at Nordatlantens Brygge on d. March 24, 2025 in Copenhagen.

The history
The year is 1978. A Greenlandic girl sits at a kitchen table in a detached house just outside Aalborg, staring down at the colored flowers on the oilcloth. The Danish state has sent her into care to give her access to “a culture with future perspectives”. But in a moment, she will get up and leave. Back towards Greenland. Backwards through time. She walks, but she is not alone. A Danish anthropologist follows her, with bags full of strawberry jam, first aid and notebooks. And as they walk through the 60s and 50s, they meet ships with Greenlandic children on their way to re-education in Denmark, they meet craftsmen and nurses and teachers on their way to Greenland to pave and modernize and they walk on and they pass a stuffed polar bear and fake icebergs on their way to Emma Gad’s colony exhibition in Tivoli in 1905 and the anthropologist notes and notes while shaking her head. But the girl just keeps walking. And they walk and they walk and they walk and they walk backwards through the 1800s and see the Royal Greenland Trade pass by with ships heavily laden with cod liver oil, whale meat, blubber and sealskin and the anthropologist gets more and more angry and upset and shouts that something must be done, but the girl does nothing, she just walks on, backwards, with the anthropologist shouting after her. And they go through the 1700s and they meet the Danish mission and hear it call Inuit spiritual beliefs superstition, see it ban tattoos and build churches, and the anthropologist is getting tired, but all of a sudden they have arrived in 1721, the year when DR’s big venture “The Story of Greenland and Denmark” starts – a TV series that will tell about the common destiny of the two countries. The anthropologist is confused, she looks around. Hans Egede walks towards a camera. He looks worried. But the girl has moved on, past the film set. The anthropologist runs after her and shouts: “Where are you going? And what about me? And all my notes?” “Maybe someone can read them,” the girl replies, but the anthropologist shouts: “But where are you going? You can’t keep walking backwards!” But the girl replies: “I’m not going backwards, I’m going forwards, towards something that has always been”.

Why this project?
With this project, we want to open up a shared investigative and critical space for the deeper and more complex narratives of Denmark’s colonial and post-colonial role in Greenland.
It is problematic when Danes tell Inuit history starting from Hans Egede’s arrival in 1721, skipping the story of a 4500-year-old culture and thus blocking access to understanding modern Greenlandic culture on its own terms. It keeps Danes in a leading role they don’t have.
We want to open a space that dares to deconstruct this Danish self-image and start listening to something else.

We entered into a cooperation agreement with Nordatlantens Brygge, project manager Asta Stefansdottir, in relation to the presentation of the performance in Copenhagen as well as various side projects in collaboration with Sirí Paulsen, responsible for the school service.
We have also partnered with Det Grønlandske Hus, Copenhagen for side events and debates in connection with the performance. the performance.
In addition to this, we have initiated a collaboration with Falkonergården gymnasium by Tom Søgaard-Jensen, head of education and Martin Hagen Broch, history teacher, who together with students, will exchange with the project during our research and artistic process, help us with dissemination and distribution of the performance in high schools.

The team:

Elisabeth Heilmann Blind (dancer and performer), Gry Guldager (actor), Nina Sikkersoq (dancer) and Øyvind Kirchhoff (performer)

Naja Dyrendom Graugaard (post doc.) and Lotte Faarup

Lotte Faarup

Sound design
Sirí Paulsen

Julie Edel Hardenberg (artist), Lars Jensen (lecturer RUC), Gry Alstrøm (cand. mag)

Makka Kleist

Knud Højgaard Fonden
Danish Arts Foundation Project Support Committee for Performing Arts; project support and tour support
The Ministry of Culture’s Culture Pool for projects between Greenland and Denmark

March 24, 2025