In 1971, in response to increasing population pressure, Copenhagen City Hall decided to evacuate most of the squats of the city in order to renovate them. Overnight hundreds of idealists and marginals found themselves thrown out into the street. In search of a new home, a handful of them turned to the peninsula of Christianshavn where the Danish navy recently abandoned an area composed of an abandoned eighteenth century building complex in the South and by a lake and a forest practically returned to a state of wilderness in the north. On several occasions the security forces tried to dislodge them. Overwhelmed by the numbers and determination of the new residents, they soon gave up.
Fristaden, the freetown of Christiania is being born.
The community organized : without a leader, a guru, or any hierarchy, a model of self-management and libertarianism prevailed.
Today, despite numerous government legal attempts to take repossession of the enclave, despite incessant raids, the hunger and money of developers, despite the sometimes sharp disagreements between the “native” Christianites and dealers – who have become the rulers of one of its streets – despite the sometimes precarious living conditions, Christiania is still standing…
Between April and September 2014, I was fortunate to live there.
I stayed first in the community residences of Maelkboetten and then in the forest, in the cabins of the « Blue caramel. » Along the way I met Christianites in their homes, over a beer, a meal, a photo, sometimes in silence. Utopians of all shades, apaches and beakniks, old dreamers and young rebels, junkies and tramps, solitary lunatics straight out of a Bukowski novel, urban families seeking refuge from the worries of the capital, awakening artists, reawakening artists, Dionysus everywhere and Circus people of the angels.
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Yann Datessen was born in 1977 and he’s based in Paris.
He works as photographer, writer and photography teacher at Paris-Sorbonne University, he founded « Cleptafire », in 2011, a french magazine about contemporary photography.