YOU, LOOKING AT ME, LOOKING AT YOU

5-Channel video installation, HD 16:9. Color / B&W. Total duration: 69 min. 2009

How do we define national identity? How do we make the place we inhabit ours? Do certain people feel more entitled to a specific location than others - and how does our view on ourselves determine our view on others? These are some of the questions posed in the 5-channel video installation You, Looking at Me, Looking at You.

In one of the videos in the installation an elderly Danish woman talks about her views on and identification with Danish and American culture and about her opinions on immigration in the two countries. Towards the end of the interview, it becomes apparent that the interviewer is a non-ethnic Dane and that the elderly woman is an ethnic Dane but an American citizen.

You Looking at me, Looking at you reflects a series of complicated problems in relation to race and identity. As the title indicates, the installation targets the stereotypes in which the interviewer and the interviewed relate to each other and more generally points to mechanisms that structure our gaze and opinions on the other in a video where paradoxically neither person is shown. The video interview is put into context by four other videos, among others a video about Danish folk dancers who turn out not to be Danes, museological display and folklorism, and the visual representation of national identity in Solvang.

- Sara Hatla Krogsgaard

“…What Solvang calls itself—‘‘The Danish Capital of America’’—is the real key to its Gemeinschaft.A thriving tourist town, it has a visitor-to-resident ratio of 1.5 million to 5,200. Less than 20 percent of Solvang’s population can now claim Danish descent, in contrast to 50 percent during the 1940s. Nor can many of today’s townspeople speak or even understand Danish (apart from such phrasebook standbys as goddag and god jul) in this community where business and worship alike were once conducted in the language of its founding fathers. That said, it is also the case that Solvang has never been more conspicuously danefied than it is now. As a result, there is no place in its Danish-signifying landscape for any other ethnicity’s representation— neither the area’s indigenous people, the Chumash (who now occupy a nearby reservation), nor theMexican work-force on which the town’s tourist economy depends. Solvang’s Spanish history (and historic place in the colonization of Alta California) accordsabout as well with its Danish heritage as the Mission Santa Inez, which abuts the town center, fits in with its windmills. The numerically and economically significant Mexican representation in this danefied Gesellschaft has not translated into a representative Chicano/a presence or role in the Solvang Gemeinschaft.”

- By Anders Linde-Laursen ‘‘Unsettled’’ Solvang, Danish Capital of America: A Photoessay