Transformer Towers Transformed

Sandy beaches draw summertime visitors to explore Langeland, but for most of the year farm tractors rule the roads. Last month, the manure spreaders were out in force as I traveled around the Danish island seeking out some rather distinctive landmarks. The 31-mile long Langeland is well know for its windmills, both historic grain mills and modern electric generators. In fact, the island’s 63 wind towers make it an energy exporter. But they only held peripheral interest for me. I was on the lookout for art towers. 

A group of Danish artists have commandeered abandoned, electric transformer towers for exhibit spaces. Before the island’s electrical transmission lines were buried underground, some years ago, they were strung pole to pole along roadways. Every few miles in the grid, transformer equipment was housed in small, but tall, brick buildings. In recent years they have been empty and shuttered. Last year nine were opened, rejuvenated, and turned into rural, mini-galleries.

This year there will be twelve towers displaying the work of individual artists. Paintings and sculptures are open to public viewing 24/7. A metal flag hanging from a tower signals its “transformed” status. Re-purposing the transformer towers has sparked preservation efforts on their behalf. On Langeland, art is drawing attention to, and increasing awareness of, the built landscape.

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