Everything is perishable.
Everything changes over time.

Mountains and rocks weather and turn into grains of sand. Wind and ocean currents move the sand across oceans. It is stored in extensive landscapes. Places come into being and disappear again. Four times a day, the tide pulls a billion cubic meters of water through the Wadden Sea, moving mud and sand. Denmark's westernmost point, Blåvandshuk, is a place that is created every day. 

The exhibition's title First There is a Mountain draws attention to the fact that everything around us is changing.

"First there is a mountain,
then there is no mountain,
then there is."

– Quote by Qingyuan Weixin, 9th century

The term is central to Buddhist teachings. It points to how we humans perceive and understand our habitat and the world around us. 

In three themes, First There is a Mountain focuses on the importance of sand for us humans - locally for the culture and nature of the Wadden Sea, historically and in the future, and globally as a dwindling natural resource.

A historical marker 

Blåvandshuk, which is the northernmost part of the Wadden Sea, arose 2000-3500 years ago, when the islands of Langli, Fanø and Rømø eroded away, before re-appeared approx. 1500 years later. Since then, people have lived on the coast and adapted to the whims of the tides and winds. Plantations are planted to keep the sand away from the agricultural land, while the sand ground a few kilometers away is protected. 

A sensuous material 

Most of us have experienced to play with sand. It can be white, grey, brown and black, but up close it contains all colours. The Danish beach sand contains 95% quartz, which was brought here with the Ice Age. Sand is constantly moving, yet it never disappears and becomes a habitat - above water for seaweed fleas and insects, in the mudflats for sand worms, crabs, mussels and fish. 

An invaluable resource 

Sand can be mined for building materials, and is increasingly an attractive ressouce locally and globally. And while the precious sand is dwindling, it is spreading in drought-stricken areas. As an ingredient in concrete, coastal protection and natural power, sand is quickly swirling into political agendas, locally and globally.

Empathic Environments

The exhibition First There Is A Mountain is curated by Empathic Environments, which consists of art historian Stenka Hellfach and architect maa and journalist Tyra Dokkedahl. In their collaboration, they investigate, unfold and communicate the meanings and potentials of places and develop art projects that connect people to places. Empathic Environments works across art, architecture and landscape and develops strategies, art projects, exhibitions, professional seminars and events. Empathic Environments has, among other things, developed the art strategy in Varde Municipality (2021).

Stenka Hellfach

Graduated MA in art history from Aarhus University (2003). She lives and works in Copenhagen.

 Stenka Hellfach runs Somewhere – Public Art Agency. Somewhere develops art in buildings, urban spaces and landscapes that create extraordinary experiences and engagement around current issues, locally and globally. Somewhere believes in art's ability to create unique and relevant places that people connect to and cherish.

Kurator Stenka Hellfach 2 AL4W0737©NTR
Billede Tyra Dokkedahl Kurator

Tyra Dokkedahl

Architect MAA and journalist Tyra Dokkedahl graduated from the Royal Academy (2012) and Denmark's Media and Journalism Academy (2021). She lives and works in Copenhagen.

Tyra Dokkedahl runs Seriously Fun – Bureau for art and communication in buildings, cities and landscapes. Seriously Fun translates visions and strategies for places into art and communication projects that make an impression on the recipient.