The City as a Collection of Poetry



Værløse Bymidte den. 3.sept. – 12. sept. 2004

Lyrik-installation / Bog / Digtsamling



The City as a Collection of Poetry



Værløse Bymidte, Greater Copenhagen, Denmark.


Poet/Artist: Jan Hatt-Olsen



For a period of ten days downtown Værløse was transformed into a collection of poetry, with a little over 1 km of poetry roads by Jan Hatt-Olsen created with 141 stickers on the ground (1 m x 0.3 m) and 61 poems by Jan Hatt-Olsen printed on transparent plexiglass (2m x 0.3 m) placed on pillars, walls, hanging down from trees and placed in large pots filled with soil as small poetry trees at every square in the area.


People would together with the printed words see spaces in the making, reflected, on the other side, in front of them and shadows of the words.

In the area is situated the town hall, post office, cinema, library, culture house, coffee shops, police station and almost all shops in the town and some residential areas.


The poetry roads and plexiglass plates with poetry being catalysts in the process of making the whole urban space in to a work of art, a collection of poetry in which anything in urban space is a poem and anybody in urban space or relating to it are themselves poets and artists, authors of the City as a Collection of Poetry.


The first picture is taken through the poetry tree, which was planted at the main square.

The second picture is a picture of the formal announcement of the publication of Downtown Værløse as a Poetry-installation / Book / Collection of Poetry, which is published by the experimental publisher Tiara. The plexiglass plate in the picture is placed on the second pillar when you arrive from the local train station. Printed on the plexiglass is title, isbn nr. (International standard book number, 87 is the number for Denmark.  90739 is the official publisher code for Tiara. 09-4 is the publication number ), authors (Jan Hatt-Olsen , the Municipality of Værløse, the business located in downtown Værløse, the cultural institutions which supported the project, the people who worked with the practical site of producing and placing stickers, plexiglass, print and all people who moved trough, lived in or thought of downtown Værløse)  and sponsors of the publication.


During the 10 days people were living - as poems and writers themselves - in a collection of poetry, a poeticized urban space.

A more full view of the installation/intervention and articles about it can be seen at the online catalogue  or the printed catalogue.  



(unfortunately there are at the moment no more printed copies left. The catalogue can be downloaded as an E-Book, by clicking on the picture of the cover)


I wanted to highlight my idea, that the city as a text, visual poetry and written poetry essentially is the same. The city as a collection of poetry is a hyper complex reality you can live in, leave or enter and at the same time it is a chôra a space in-between, even the smallest scratch in a wall, a person walking on a street or a written word is a gateway to poetical transcendence.

To achieve that in an urban space I thought it necessary, that the installation/intervention was an integrated part of the architecture and infrastructure in the whole area.


The installation/intervention in the city was made possible by the new digital production techniques. The installation/intervention would have been extremely expensive without the new digital techniques and utopian to put through the political, fundraising process. The new digital techniques of printing have made it possible to transform large urban spaces in the city to books. It is possible to transform the City into a Collection of Poetry, with all the implication it have for concepts of literature, the author/authors, the book and the urban space.


The web-catalogue and the printed catalogue is a part of the installation/intervention together with the actual site-specific installation/intervention in the urban space. One of the ideas in the concept is how poetry travel across different media and the different media is a part of the poetic expression. The web-catalogue is both functioning as information and documentation of the installation/intervention in the urban space, and as a work of art/poetry by itself.



If you click on headlines in the left side of the web-catalogue are there both pictures and text.


Most of the text in the web-catalogue is in Danish, but the following part is in English:


An article by art historian Nicoletta Isar about the project.

A description of the projects participation in City Living – Living City. The 6th Biennial of Towns and Town Planners in Europe, where it was one of the 30 examples selected from Europe, which were exhibited at the Biennials Street Creativity Exhibition.


In the web-catalogue there is an updated annotated list of references to literature about the project.



The dots in the right side of the web-catalogue  were placed during the installation/intervention in the urban space, and each of them point to a day.


If you click at the dots there will be a lot of pictures and the last dot  will bring you to 4 videos.


English Title:                     Danish Title :                               Time :


Optical / Virtual / Real        Optisk / Virtuel / Virkelig              1: 01

Installation                          Installation


Membran                            Membran                                    1: 02


Walk in Words 1                i ord 1                                    0: 39


Walk in Words 2                i ord 2                                    0: 24