Joachim Koester, Day for Night, 1996
19.09.20 – 28.03.21
The story so far…
With Fabulous HEART takes a fresh look at the museum’s collection, looking for ‘good stories’ – for special narratives. The exhibition stages a selection of the most important works from the museum’s collection with a particular focus on selected stories from and about these works. The first room takes its starting point in the overall theme: in stories and narratives. How can a story be told through different media? How does the choice of media affect the story? This room sets the mood for our experience of the rest of the exhibition.
As we step into the exhibition, we are first met by Dan Colen’s Slayer Rock (2015) and Jesper Just’s video work This is a Landscape of Desire (2011), surrounded by Joachim Koester’s impressive photo series Day for Night, Christiania (1996–). In his photo series, Koester tells part of the story of the ‘Freetown’ community of Christiania in Copenhagen. However, the photographs are almost completely devoid of people, meaning that we have to piece the story together based solely on traces left by the residents. Looking at the photographs, the residents’ impact on this former military base is obvious. Colourful murals, temporary footpaths and various more or less temporary structures made from recycled materials. What is less clear is whether we are looking at a dream that is still under construction or in a state of decay. Koester’s choice of subject matter and use of a ‘Day for Night’ filter to tint the scenes help the dualities inherent in the Christiania community to emerge, but still leave us free to interpret what we see. In a similar, yet different vein, Dan Colen’s work Slayer Rock is quite literally a single, vast trace left behind by the group of people who created it. The hugely heavy rock was quarried by African-American enslaved workers in a quarry in Kentucky, where it was then left, seemingly for no reason. The marks left by their tools can be seen all over the surface of the rock, and apart from the hidden text ‘Slayer’ on its front, Colen has changed little about its appearance. There is an insistent ferocity to Colen’s choice of media compared to e.g. Koester’s photographs. By physically placing the object right in front of us he confronts us very directly with the sheer size of the rock and the horrific labour involved in carving it out and moving it without the assistance of machines. Furthermore, Colen gives added significance to the traces left behind by leaving the block of stone ‘unprocessed’, allowing us to look at them with fresh eyes. What experience would the work have evoked if it had been told via another medium?
The desire to create change
The other rooms in the exhibition focus on specific parts of the stories and narratives told by the selected works, and the special stagings that were created to make these aspects stand out clearly, letting us experience and interact with the works in a new way. All the works share a desire to create change. From Lucio Fontana’s project of turning the two-dimensional painting into a three-dimensional space by making cuts in the canvas, via Paul Gadegaard’s efforts to bring art into everyday life, creating what he himself called ‘Denmark's largest social-realist painting’ by decorating every part of Aage Damgaard’s Angli factory, to Piero Mazoni’s vision of turning the concept of art upside down by transforming us all, and our entire planet, into a work of art. The many stories told by these works are part of the story of HEART. About a collection built on the basis of a burning passion and a desire to create change through bold and innovative art. The final room of the exhibition presents an overwhelming selection of such narratives. Presenting a dense hang inspired by a Wunderkammer aesthetic, the room invites you to explore an abundance of new and old, of colours, materials and stories. While all presentations of collections are by definition retrospective, the museum’s choice of which works to show (and how to show them) is a reflection of what is immediately relevant to us right now. This exhibition is just the latest chapter in the narrative. The story so far.
The exhibition is supported by:
New Carlsberg Foundation
VIA University College