Going Underground | Excess baggage: gym cards and grubby condoms

It had been tucked away in my wallet for months. “One of these days I’m definitely going to use it,” I told myself. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, but nothing happened. The little square of plastic just turned into a hard-edged piece of guilty conscience every time I caught a glimpse of it: the unused gym membership card.


“Well then just quit! It’s costing you like 400 a month, and you never use it!” the voice would reasonably ague. But I knew very well that there was more to that voice than pure reason. I had heard it before. It was the same voice nagging me when I was replacing the tattered, unused condoms in my wallet as a teenager. It was the voice of doubt and shattered dreams, concealed as reason.



The thing was that the rubber in the wallet meant more than just a rubber in the wallet, just like the membership card means more than access to the gym – it means possibility. Armed with a condom, I could conquer a girl; it just might happen, and in a weird way that made it (almost) happen. And the membership card was the possibility to train. When I felt it in my pocket, I was not only reminded of all the possible worlds in which I would have been training (and I was training hard in those possible worlds!), I was reinforced in my belief that I would actually train – tomorrow. But, as we all have to learn at one point, tomorrow never comes – it’s always just tomorrow.


I never used one of those contraceptives I carried around as a teenager (thank God), and at one point I realised that I wasn’t going to use my gym card either. So I quit carrying them around.


I realised that you don’t need to carry a hazardous rubber in your pocket to get laid. If you think about it, it might actually work against you. I mean, what message are you sending to yourself –and the world – carrying a condom in your wallet? “I expect to have intercourse with a person whom I have just met, so desperately fast that I can’t even make it to 7-Eleven, ONCE.” Not really the message you want to send, is it?


Something similar happens in the case of the gym membership card really. By carrying it around without using it you unwillingly say: “I need to go to the gym, I’m unhappy with my appearance, but obviously I can’t muster the willpower to actually go to the gym, so I really feel fat, guilty and pathetic.” And, funnily enough, that is the exact opposite feeling from the empowered sense of self you had when you purchased the membership. So quit I did. Who says you need a gym with its stupid membership cards of guilt to work out, anyway? I’ve started meeting up with a friend twice a week doing classic ‘granddad gymnastics’: push-ups, sit-ups, air-squats, back-bends and chin-ups. For each element we muster as many repetitions as we can for one minute, followed by a 20-second break, one more minute, and so on for five minutes, then a one-minute break and onto the next exercise. It is a crazy, tough, all-round programme – right there in the guilt-free comfort of your own living room.


Tredje Nordiske Samtalekøkken (Third Nordic Conversation Kitchen)
The old church-turned-exhibition space hosts an odd combination of avant-garde performance art − and food. Enjoy a free meal and purchase homemade beer while experiencing a host of Scandinavian artists break through the boundaries of approved bodily behaviour.

Nikolaj Kunsthal, Nicolai Plads 10, Cph K; Wed 14 Nov, 19:00-23:00; free adm; see facebook for more details

Kunstneres efterårsudstilling KE 2012 (artist fall exhibition)
For more than a hundred years KE has annually presented Denmark’s new artists, proving itself as an important parameter for the movements in upcoming contemporary artists on the Danish art scene − go there and take a look in the crystal ball.

Den Frie Udstililngsbygning, Oslo Palds, Cph Ø; ends Nov 25, open Tue-Fri 12:00-17:00, Sat & Sun 10:00-17:00; tickets 45kr, concessions 25kr; www.denfrie.dk

Ever since he was old enough to put dirt in his mouth, Erik B Duckert has been attracted to the ground level and below. The attraction of the underground, he says, is that: “When you’re looking at a city from its gutters, you see both the faeces and the silk.” His favourite sewers are those of Copenhagen and in particular those of Nørrebro and Amager, but any place where trash is tossed and skirts are worn, he will want to rest his eyes and say his piece.