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Sandra of the Tuliphouse or How to Live in a Free State

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(in collaboration with Joachim Koester)
Continuous five channel color video projection with sound.
86 minutes, dimensions variable.
Past and present life in the anarchistic "free city" of Christiania, in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the subject of Sandra of the Tuliphouse Or How to Live in a Free State, a five-channel video projection and sound installation by Matthew Buckingham and Joachim Koester.

In 1971 a group of Danish housing activists, known as the "Slum Stormers,"  broke through the fences of an abandoned seventeenth-century military base in Copenhagen, founding the “free city” of Christiania. 30 years later Christiania was one of the largest anarchistic communities in the world, a city-within-a-city, home to 1,200 people living outside Danish law.

In Sandra of the Tuliphouse or How to Live in Free State, Christiania is approached at face-value, as a self-described laboratory of freedom, an environment that provides an almost unparalleled opportunity to unravel a very particular history of markedly contrasting power relations and vivid social forces. Borrowing from the usually dispirit practices of cultural geography and fictional narrative  the project is constructed as a visual, spatial, and aural investigation of the site. The situation at Christiania in 2001 is compared with its distant past as a military base, its more recent utopian regeneration, and its possible future.

In the installation, a non-linear narrative flow is generated and spatialized through five separate intermittent and overlapping video and sound channels. The viewer engages the work by following the shifting and unstable voices, sounds, and images as they relate the experiences of a fictional character named Sandra, who is temporarily staying in Christiania. Through this framing device the viewer gains access to knowledge of a community which says of itself: "living outside the law you’ve got to be honest." and, because of its controversial history and complex heterogeneous identity, is reluctant to provide a coherent unifying image of itself.