Poetry by Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter
The mountain village we arrive at is an extract in the midday heat. The neighbour is watering his plants, the rooster crows and you awake with a hazy mind. The weather is comprehendible at Sicily. I know that many mummified bodies are lying in the ground close to Palermo with clothes on and hat and hair. We live in an idyllic place, so why not stay here. You have rings of inch on your forefinger.
The fog is drunk late in the afternoon. Howling between the mountains. Impoverished slopes. They lie along the roads as frowning brows. And at the wall a fat cat lies licking the fading sun. They are burning fields, the earth is diseased, he says.
We walk into the afternoon heat, we pass almond trees, olive trees, red berries are popping out, small black berries are hiding between the leaves, agave cactus swell onto the crash barriers along the roads. We are on our way to the village museum. A dog is accusing us for entering its territory. From windows and door ways people are looking at us with scanning eyes. My skin burns, I want myself into the shady shrub of the bushes.
Tell me how the hot
and cool streams meet
in the submerged roots
tell me about the white smoke that rises
as mythological creatures
the crater edge
in the thin sharp air
Our guide repeats;
the lava was born this way,
I wonder how it sounds
when lava is born
With orange helmets
on our heads
into a lava lunge,
a harden cave,
here plants are growing
In hairpin turns, the car twists down the volcano's slopes. Small prolific fields have settled in the furrows where citrus fruit grows, grapevine, chestnut trees, pine trees, they bloom, shoot large knuckles and during the next eruption everything will melt, the buds curl up, the trees are laid down stabbingly, it crunches and clashes and poaches, it sprouts again
Islands can be associated with both the limited and the unlimited. Surrounded by the sea, with their shores that extend down under the water and further out, islands are also associated with mysticism and questions; How has this particular piece of land risen from the sea, when and how has it become inhabitable? If we hadn’t had ships or later airplanes and bridges, we would never have been able to get away from there (or to get there). These conditions might make an island just the right platform for searching inwards and outwards. We believe the island to be a very potent base for creative exploration.
We do not lack islands in Denmark, with its almost 80 inhabited islands, and so we have grown up in the vicinity of islands, and for some, with longing out there. We chose Sicily because this island has a rich geological and socio-cultural history, but also because it appears exotic to us Danes, as it lies in the south of Europe on the border to Africa.
The outcome of our project, the book “Under gulvet gror der planter” – in English “Under the floor plants are growing” explores the site-specific themes which we encountered on our journey. Specifically we dug into the themes fertile richness and omnipresent decay, which are reflected visually and textually in the book.
Villa-R in northern Sicily, where our residency took place, provided the physical frame for our collaboration. Here, as well as in the months after our residency, we worked closely together interweaving into each other’s professions.
Apart from collecting impressions through site-specific sketching, writing and photography, we also started collecting objects like trash and plant parts along our path. We made prints of the objects on large rolls of paper, and these now appear directly in the illustrations in the book.
“Under the floor plants are growing” was released in mid-June 2018, during the international literature festival, by the publisher Forlaget Silkefyret where the book can be bought.
The book has received support from Statens Kunstfond, the Danish Arts Foundation.
The writer – Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter
Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter holds an MA-degree in Aesthetics and Culture from Aarhus University and University of Iceland. Furthermore, she is educated from the inter-Nordic Writing Academy in Bergen, Norway. Eriksdatter works mainly within the form of poetry, and she is inspired by landscapes, by relation between things and people, the structures of rocks etc. She enters the language alteringbetween the dwelling and the dynamic. She is occupied by relationships between (wo)man and nature, the micro- and macro world examining the dynamics of decay. She is published in various established Nordic anthologies and magazines. Lately she has been experimenting with transcending her words into spatial representations, more specifically into embroidery on old kitchen towels, exhibited at Gallery Non-space in Aarhus.
The illustrator – Maria Molbech
Maria Molbech has studied Illustration Fiction at Hochscule Luzern in Switzerland, and holds a master’s degree in Communication Design from Kolding Design School (DK). She has illustrated both classic and contemporary literature, and also works with poster design for decorative and artistic purposes as well as graphic design, screen printing, animation and printmaking. The starting inspiration for Molbech’s work is almost always words. She is interested in tensions of ambience, in revealing the stories that lie between words we tell, and giving life visually to subjects and emotions that cannot be expressed in words. She interprets the spaces surrounding her, inspired by contrasting forces, by emotions, historical traces, the clash of nature and civilization, the sea, light and shadows and odd characters.