The Null Device

A little house next to Track 12

A chance conversation with a fellow passenger on an overnight train to Copenhagen brought this to my attention: When Copenhagen's central railway station was being renovated a few years ago, the station authorities discovered that two street artists had built a complete apartment in some unused space beneath platform 12. The apartment had apparently survived for four years before being discovered and demolished; the artists, going by the names of ADAMS and ITSO, claim to have built others elsewhere in Copenhagen, and inscribed the story of the house (in neat, professional-looking typography) on the sides of trains.

There were photos of the original house on the web, but they seem to have disappeared beyond the reach of archive.org; however, some can be seen in this video from Danish TV, in which the official who discovered the room is invited to a talk show by a host who seems to know a lot more about the artists in question. The host talks about the room, and then it gets even more interesting; he shows the artists some books, made of cardboard, documenting other such spaces (a shed in the centre of Stockholm, and a room in Berlin beneath Ostbahnhof), and other contrivances (hollowed-out books in the Stockholm Library containing keys to secret spaces; a universal manhole-opening kit in a backpack; a canoe made of recycled advertising billboards, used to explore the sewers beneath Paris). One remarkable thing is the tolerance shown by the official ; he is seen praising the imagination and attention to detail of the artists in a way that, were he in an Anglo-Saxon country, would probably cost him his job. Could this be the legendary Scandinavian pragmatism?

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