As part of the Raum für Kunst series, Philipp Loeken and Anna Boldt will be exhibiting in the Catholic Student Parish at the LMU from December 3 onwards. It’s the artists’ very first exhibition in Germany, entitled Happiness||Denmark and will feature photographs from their tim spent living in Copenhagen, all relating to happiness in the Danish capital.
The pursuit of happiness preoccupies a great many of us. TIME published a study on the world’s happiest countries a couple of days ago (interestingly, Germany ranked higher than Denmark in that study), and there’s now such a thing as a “happiness expert“. I asked Philipp if he thought Munich was a happier city than Copenhagen. “In our view, people in Copenhagen are happier than in Munich. They are more relaxed and laid-back, and not as shy toward one another in public spaces as here in Germany. Everything is more social and there is a sense of community. And many people ride their bike every day, which helps to work off stress and improve happiness levels. In Munich, many people don’t care about their surroundings and how they treat other people. Everyone wants to be first in line”.
It was this comment of being first in line that resonated with me – there are other cities that are similarly conservative in certain social situations – the avoidance of eye contact on London’s Underground is the first example that springs to mind, but the self-entitlement that I seem to experience more in Munich than I do anywhere else does frustrate me. We all know that we Brits are terrific queuers, but it goes beyond that – it’s that rush to the newly opened till in the supermarket, the first to be on the bus, all of it without any respect for anyone else. I love Munich, but this lack of caring really pisses me off.
I asked Philipp what they had learnt from the photographs, and what he thinks we can do to improve our day-to-day happiness. “It starts with patience and serenity. You shouldn’t think about what society expects from you, and should instead consider the things that make you happy – like life’s little pleasures: a good song, a conversation with friends, riding your bike at sunset – happiness and satisfaction should be more important than material things and prestige.”
Despite the exhibition being housed in the Catholic Student Parish, their work is not religious. “You might find a sense of spirituality in our pictures”, Philipp says, “but the exhibition is free from any religious views. The venue had no influence on our creative work or the selection of the pictures”.
Philipp goes on to explain the personal importance of the exhibition for the photographers. “The pictures reflect our feelings we had living in Copenhagen. We had been in a relationship for many years when I moved to Copenhagen. Things fell apart – but Anna still had her own plans to come to Copenhagen, so we ended up living there separately – but both loved it so much that we had a hard time coming back to Munich.
“Our financial situation wasn’t always the best, but we still had a great time – and ended up thinking a lot about why we are happy. It’s definitely the small things, but it’s also the freedom of doing what you want to do. Copenhagen showed us that we have to pursue our own goals to become happy, and we hope the pictures inspire in the way that Denmark inspired us”.
What do you think?
Is Munich a happy city? Do you think other cities are happier?
Happiness||Denmark is showing from December 3 in the LMU, Leopoldstr. 11. For more information, check out the Facebook events page, here.