The morning flight veers towards Copenhagen. From the window I see the coastline on the other side of the Sound, and can identify Malmö, situated to the south of the nuclear plant, Barsebäck. The bridge looks like a serpent in the water below. A sandy beach and its piers are also visible. Everything looks so small from the air. Memories of my childhood flood my mind. The blue wool blanket, the wet sand, seaweed, my blue lips, the heavy breathing of children running from the sea. The sun is strong and everything seems to have been bleached white. The barrier to the subconscious is also broken, and we can access our oceanic selves. This region of beaches lends itself to the mutual possibility of liberating and formulating identity via the sea. Remembering, I twist my body and break the surface of the water.
The Öresund region can be looked upon as a utopian white-framed evocation of a belief in the future. The artificial beach of Ribersborg, in Malmö, is part of a modernist vision of light, air and clarity. In the 1920s, the former stony beach was transformed into one of smooth sand, and framed by Malmö’s first modernist high rise buildings, created by the Swedish architect, Eric Sigfrid Persson.
On the Danish side of the Sound, Bellevue Beach, created by the famous architect Arne Jacobsen in 1932, was part of the same vision. In Eric Sigfrid Persson’s and Arne Jacobsen’s Mediterranean-inspired ideal of modernity, the beach is bathed in white light and enhanced by a clear blue sky. The seascape horizon always forms part of the view from the large panoramic windows that were an integral part of the functional building style of the Scandinavian modernists.
The beaches, the sky and the horizon now form a double exposure, where seventy years of history is compressed into an image of never changing utopia and converted into a saleable brand. Strong brands depend on the creation of an aura that goes beyond the practical and reaches towards a realm of utopian desires. When place identity is transformed into a static brand that can be sold on the global market, the representation of place becomes one dimensional.
A question arises. Is it possible to take a critical look at this one dimensionality at the same time as being involved in a region building process? Perhaps a solution would be to drive the project of modernity to the bitter end, to the stillness of death, and see whether this leads to a reformulation of identity linked to place? One way of doing this would be to examine the connection with the sandy beach and the dynamic aspect of the modernity project.