Background and projects

On a summer holliday in 1981, I visited the USSR with my family on a three-week bus-tour, organized by the great pioneer in travelling, the Danish company Tjæreborg. The beginning of the eighties, the bus was a marvel of yellow, green and brown colours and many days were spent inside this vehicle asleep (for the delight of many co-travelers) on roads just continuing on mile after mile in great forests. Yet, the meeting with a very different country, watching real live Russians from my bus and hotels as we went on from Finland to Petersburg to Moscow to Novgorod, seeing the great river of Volga and eating very strange food (Beet-root soup and fat! sweets made of fruit jelly, and hot dairy products with raisins for breakfast, not to mention rhubarb squash), made a lasting impression on an eight year old boy. Here, I had my very first try for a disco-dance under a sparkling light in our Moscow hotel after dinner, getting all dressed up in my new holliday outfit in our brownish hotel suite! Visiting the great halls of the Winter Palace, listening to our danish-speaking guide, walking up and down those historic steps and decorated floors. So, of course this meant the beginning of a continuing historic interest. To my surprice, i ended up as a Master of Arts in classical archaeology, and in 2004, I was employed as curator on a historic cemetery in Copenhagen. There, I first discovered the Russian historic gravespot marking the graves of Yaschik, Mengden and Grünwald. Imagine! These people very much connected to Imperial Russia right there where I was working. And so, I began the search for information about these real historic people!

My first project 2006: Gold cufflinks belonging to Imperial Cossack Yaschik photographed on the special Romanov golden-coloured silk as part of my first great exhibition in 2006, emphasizing the historic importance and solemnity of that years´ transfer of the empress Maria Feodorovnas coffin to Skt. Petersburg. The exhibition included personal belongings from the Empress and was especially created to focus on the loyal employees following her in exile. Artefacts included cuff-links, medals, private family photographs and an original manuscript from the cossack Yaschiks´ family and private artefacts belonging to the immediate Imperial Romanov Family, such as Aleksander III´s footbath and Grandduchess Olgas Samovar. Following the international awareness of the event, the exhibition was part of the Danish Foreign Ministrys celebrations and was ceremonially opened by Prince Dimitry Romanov and princess Dorrit. Private family collection. The Exhibition was made possible in collaboration with Ballerup Museum, The Foreign Ministry and Yaschik´s Danish family

My second project 2006: Following the 2006 exhibition, I made a cataloque and backgrund booklet, several of the cossack Yaschik´s Danish family wrote smaller articles on their Russian cossack uncle. And here they are, four families united, all related to Yaschiks´Danish wife Agnes. In the back, chairman and founder of the Cultural Society Dagmaria, Miss Irina Demidoff who passionately has been researching about the cossack´s relatives and family for many years.

My third project 2008: The Grand duchess Olga Aleksandrovna had studied with the renowned court-painters at the Imperial Court in her childhood and youth, Stanislav Zhukovsky, Vladimir Maskovsky ans Sergei Vinogradov. She continued to paint all her life, even venturing into porcelain, icons and book-illustrations. In 1924, she illustrated a fairytale by Danish writer Otto Schrayh, having been inspired by a mutual acquaintance, a tiny boy Jørgen. The Fairy-Tale of the 3 White Bears was re-published in 2008, including background material and photographs. The Book was part of a collaboration with the cultural society Dagmaria and Irina Demidoff.

My fourth project 2010: In Denmark, at Hvidøre in Klampenborg, Empress Dagmar gained great influence among the Russian immigrants in Western Europe. At her death in 1928, the Dowager Empress was laid to rest in a sarcophagus in the crypt beneath Christian IX’s chapel in Roskilde Cathedral. In 2006, her remains were moved back to Russia. The many courtiers and friends who followed her in her exile are interred at Assistens Cemetery. The story of Dagmar’s little “court” is an example of the history of the world reflected in a smaller story. This book, I Dagmars skygge (litterally “In the shade of Dagmar”), united common efforts to materialize the many stories behind the many courtiers´ lives in Denmark. Beautifully illustrated with amazing colour photographs, it is the story of fugitives, of leaving the life you know behind, of being a foreigner in Denmark, of friendships across generations, of a life played out against a backdrop of revolution and war, and of serving others for almost a lifetime. What do you do when your life takes a dramatic turn? The Book includes 28 articles, three appendices and an english summary on 248 pages. In collaboration with Ballerup Museum. Acknowledgements: Kong Christian den Tiendes Fond, Toyota Fonden, Konsul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck´s Fond, Den Hielmstierne-Rosencroneske Stiftelse, Nordea Fonden – Lokalafdeling Ballerup

My fifth project 2013: This year saw the international celebration of the centenary of the Romanov dynasty celebrating its´300th imperial jubilee in 1913, the very last display of imperial grandeur before the outbreak of the First World War. Artefacts included original dresses belonging to the Empress Dowager as well as several photographs taken in 1913 and several icons. The Golden Romanov Eagle is actually a shop sign, found in the streets of Sct. Petersburg during the 1917 revolution by a Danish diplomat. The Romanov Eagle is now part of the Olga Collection at Ballerup Museum

My sixth project 2014: As a result of many years of research, and since I was already doing some research on a great historic film-project, it was time for the imperial cossack Yaschik “to go to the movies”! In one of those lucky chances, I coincidentally came across Yaschiks´ Danish niece Anna. For many years, she had been working continuously for the preservation of Yaschik and her aunt Ninas ´ memorial. We started to talk together, somehow we became friends and she used to visit me at work, taking the bus through Copenhagen with a walker! Of course, she gladly consented for an interview, and in 2014 made her movie-debut, telling the story of her aunt and uncle. This photograph is from her private album, her uncle Yaschik in civil clothes in a relaxed moment with little Anna

My seventh project 2016: With a very interesting story, but with almost no surviving images of empress Maria Feodorovnas chambermaid Cecilia “Kiki” Grünwald, a second movie-project featured dramatized sections in the storyboard. The story of an empress´personal chambermaid meeting up with a small danish girl in the 1950´ies, becoming friends. The photograph is a still from the filmshooting, taken by photographer Daniel Schultz Madsen, showing us the imperial chambermaid playing with the small girl, showing her the Russian memorabilia and mementos dearest to her

My eighth project 2017: The year 2017 saw the beginning of a year marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution. So, in october 2017, I made a new exhibition, this time both telling the stories of the Imperial Court and courtiers as well as several other angles to the Russian-Danish history connected to that specific historic event, including the visit of Lenin in Copenhagen. In a red and gold scenography, twelve very different and almost three meter high posters illustrated events, personalized in specific historic persons, including of course the cossack Yaschik (photograph), the Dowager Empress, several courtiers, merchants and diplomats, the orthodox clergy, and the “Workers House” in Copenhagen visited by Lenin (Yaschik, Painting by Armenian artist Kassro Assizoff, private collection)

My ninth project 2019: In the days from the 7th to the 11th of April 1919, 200 tons of luggage was loaded on board the battleship H.M.S. Marlborough. 44 members of the imperial house of Russia, several servants and English governesses boarded the ship, more than 100 persons in all. Cecilia Grünwald had followed her empress through a Russia in chaos. By train from St. Petersburg to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and from there in 1917 to the summer residence at the Black Sea in Crimea. In the years from 1917 to 1919, she was subjected to house arrest, house searches, siege, assault, starvation and deprivation. The Dowager Empress had so far refused to leave the country. In April of 1919, when the Crimean Peninsula for a time was ruled by allies and “white” loyalists, the “reds” were closing in on the main city of Yalta. While the citizens panicked and tried to save themselves, attempts were made to persuade the Dowager Empress to flee. Onboard the vessel, on the way to Malta, they all celebrated Easter, the most prominent Russian holiday. This exhibition followed in the footsteps of the imperial refugees, using the Easter-week to show the audience the genuine artefacts they had stored in their trunks on that precise Easter

A tenth project: On Sunday 3. November 2019, a monument of one of the world’s most important authors, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), was unveiled at the historical Assistens Cemeteries outside the City of Copenhagens´s Nørreport. Actor Viktor Melnikov has since 2013 provided a sparklingly sharp insight into Dostoevsky’s writing, a unique acting performance with the dissemination of the authorship on stage, which has been performed in the Chapel there. He created an authenticity and intensity in the stage room, entirely in the Dostoyevsky’s spirit. The ceremony consisted of live music, pantomime art and speeches by, among others, cultural adviser Christoffer Jørgensen, several Dostoyevsky experts, members of the Municipality of the City of Copenhagen, president of the Russian Cultural Center for Science and Culture Artem Markarian and many more. The monument is created by artist Andrey Tartyshnikov and was following the event given as present to the City of Copenhagen in agreement with the municipality of Copenhagen, represented at the event by Gyda Heding (Council of visual Arts)

My eleventh project, 2020: This website. Fifteen years of research now is unfolding! A new web-portal about Russian History in Denmark featuring footage from Danish collections. The Romanov’s always make fascinating headlines! The lost Empire of this Dynasty made their impact on Danish history. Behind the Romanov’s glittering facade were real people. They appeal to us and to posterity. They were individuals who became part of history. Go behind the shadows and fascinating headlines to read more on this website.

Dostoevsky’s monumental authorship is more alive than ever. It was a great pleasure to invite you to the year of celebration where, in the spirit of Dostoevsky, we experienced great theatre art, engaged ourselves in conversations, in a special exhibition and musical masterpieces and much more. Dostoevsky’s unique works contain such a convincing veracity and power that, to this day, he is considered to be among the greatest observers of humanity in world literature. A universal authorship that revolves around the human compassion. Dostoevsky’s literary heritage will forever remind us of being human and what that is. Dostoevsky is the world’s common cultural heritage. 2021 became an outstanding event where you could delve into this amazing author’s life and works, both nationally and internationally. We gathered everyone around Dostoevsky’s existential authorship for a celebration of art, literature, and humanity.

Happy birthday, Fyodor Mikhailovich!

Celebrating the bicentenary of the universal author Fyodor Dostoevsky.