A subterranean must see in Cph: Sambuichi 'the Water'

Very close to where I live, an old system of underground water reservoirs have become an art space, some years back - and every year Cisternerne present a new wild and overwhelming installation, created specifically for this cavern-like dark and wet space, hiding secretly under the park clad hill by the castle, that I have written about before.

This year it is the Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, who has created the installation. It's called 'the Water'. I went to see it yesterday, and it was so incredibly beautiful. My absolute warmest recommendations, to anyone living in or going to Copenhagen, and it will be there until February 2018, so no need to rush.

Yesterday was a sunny day, and this is a really dark experience, in the literal sense of the word. You crawl down the narrow stairs to an almost physically tangible pitch black nothing at first - all you sense around you is this cool and drippingly wet cavern and an almost overwhelming scent of fresh cedar and cypress wood - and the peculiar, metallic smell of wetness. Blinded by this sudden shift from blazing spring sun to underground cave, I almost crawled into the space. I couldn't see a thing.

But then the most elegant and mysterious world started to materialize before my eyes - like a dark forest or an underwater shrine. The whole space is transversed by elevated, cedarwood walkways in traditional Japanese style, and here and there they lead you to surprising vistas; the lantern lit curve of a bridge, an island of deliciously green fresh moss. Sudden pillars of natural sunlight, led underground by intricate mirrors. And constantly the sound of dripping water.

It was actually a bit hopeless to photograph, except in the parts where you could see, by sunlight - the semi-dark places just couldn't be done any justice by a camera. Go see for yourself, it's great

Links and info after the images.

There were a lot of references to traditional Japanese architecture and to their perception of the elements - and of course some philosophical layers in the whole concept of the installation, which will grow and evolve as nature wills it, in the period it's there. Read about the whole thing here on the Cisternerne (as the place is called) website.

In the heart of the space there is a very, very dark area, where a different kind of rope line the walkways, and seem to border off a kind of center of the grid - where apparently nothing is - but I saw that the rope was the very rough, handmade hemp kind, that you see around shinto temples, and that white strips were hanging from them. I actually had to take a blitz photo to establish this.

There was something that felt very magical about this roped off centre, and I am sure that the kami were abundant there. I could almost not bring myself to leave, but in the end I was freezing (bring a sweater!) and had to get back up into the sun. To be blinded all over again.