Festival designed to refine the Danish image of Asia

September 2003 -

The Images of Asia festival will be held in Denmark from 8 August through 26 September. Four hundred fifty Asian artists and intellectuals are participating. This ambitious event is being held in eight Danish cities.

Images of Asia is part of the Images series. This program has been organised by the Copenhagen International Theatre, numerous NGOs and cultural agencies since 1991. The objective of the festivals is to increase the national knowledge of non-western cultures. By now three editions of Images of Africa have been presented (in 1991, 1993 and 1996), as well as an Images of the World (in 2000). The main sponsor is Danida, the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Anjana Puri from the Indian Theatergroup Rang Vidushak, just before a performance at the Asia Pavillion in Randers.
Photo: Wahidur Rahman Khandkar Czhoton, Drik

A study of the ideas the Danes have about Asia from 2001 is the basis of the Images of Asia program. That study showed that both young people and adults have a very one-sided image of the region. Their primary association with Asia is poverty, over-population and violation of human rights. The group has little geographic knowledge of the area and confuses features of one country with those of another. The respondents think that Denmark can help elevate Asian’s living standards through development aid and economic investments. They consider the notion that events in Asia might be able to influence Danish society an impossibility. They do not think that Asia and Asians have anything to do with their daily lives.

Thus the researcher’s recommendation to the steering committee of Images was:

  • Organise events in which the visitors experience the different physical features of Asian countries
  • Devote attention to reciprocal relationships between Denmark and Asia, for example trade relations
  • Show what daily foodstuffs and consumer products come from Asia. 

The following Images festival will be held in 2006 with the Middle East as its theme.