THEME: Times of Change – Two Epoch’s Bearings in the Unknown

Times of Change: Two Era’s Bearings in the Unknown

By Heidi Laura, cultural editor at Weekendavisen

Only in retrospect does the picture appear clearly in a time of change. In the midst of change, everything is still flickering and moving, and the more important it is for the art to retain all that is still undigested and make it possible to reflect on it.

It is still true today, as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. With the project Times of Change, we will let two crucial and everchanging eras mirror each other and shed light on each other. Art is always a reflection of time that nurtures new views of the world – in times of change much more.


An early idea for the project was based on the current world where a hypothetical collapse was vaguely visible on the horizon – seen up against the world that collapsed in Carl Nielsen’s and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s lifetimes. No one in his wildest dreams would have imagined that this hypothesis suddenly came true. The March 2020 lockdown and recession made it clear – already in a few days – that major changes can be awaited.

Strikingly common patterns and lines connect the early 1900s with our time. At the beginning of the 20th century, the break-up and the rapid development were felt, but only today can we clearly see how pervasive both were. Europe was shattered and rebuilt in a new form during the two world wars, while technology and new ideas created entirely new ways of life.

Today, we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of several overwhelming crises: a global pandemic, an escalating climate crisis, recession, inequality crisis and a looming resource crisis, an EU and even a USA threatened by breaking up and unilateralism. We are increasingly living in a digital world the opportunities and dangers of which are still indistinct.

Back then, optimism and innovation in visual arts, literature and music were interrupted by the First World War, a war that forever changed the perception of the world of yesterday. The world of today is also an old world that is about to run out, while the contours of a new and hazy existence are appearing. Political instability, threats to democracy both from inside and from outside, ecological and social collapse and the digital revolution are all overwhelming, even if the change has only just begun. The social media echo chambers reveal the splitting.


But there are also hopeful tones and proposals for radical changes of society, production and economy that can bring us out of the crisis and into more balanced times – just as there were 100 years ago, when fundamental new ideas about society, man and the highest values ​​flourished. In times of change, new utopias are emerging. They create images of a better world borne by new values ​​and longings that can act as indicators in an uncertain future.

The organic concept and the idea of being close to nature are central to both times: Conceptions of a new inclusion of man in a larger order to make both the planet and the humans thrive. Where – at that time – humanism and human equality in particular were emphasized, the foundations today have been extended to include the planetary and the great interplay of all life. In the attempt to look ahead, one must also look back. The mythic, legendary and spiritual ideas appear in both eras as an inspiration and an expansion of the universe of thoughts.

It is the role of art to capture the weak signals of what is on the way. With an echo from the early 1900s, the signals can be amplified and deepened.