H.C Andersen - A Life World

2. April - 11. June 2006


The exhibition "A Life World" brings the great fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen into a dialogue with two of the most prominent artists of the contemporary art scene, Joseph Kosuth and the couple Ilya & Emilia Kabakov.

Both Kosuth and Kabakov are pioneers in today's art and their work functions as a living reference point for young artists. Joseph Kosuth was one of the main figures of the New York artworld in the 1960's as the groundwork was laid for conceptual art and he has ever since occupied an almost mythical position within the visual arts. This is true also of Ilya Kabakov, known as the "father of Moscow conceptualism" and as one of the most prominent artists to have emerged from the former Soviet Union. Since 1989, he has collaborated with his wife Emilia on fantasy-laden installations that have fascinated audiences at major art museums around the world. 
Both the Kabakovs and Kosuth work with themes that were significant to Andersen, such as memory and identity, language and existence. As conceptually working artists, they are concerned with the visualization of abstract matters but whereas Kosuth works in the cross field between word and image in a clear, conceptualist idiom, the Kabakovs' universe is one of memory and imagination, brought to life through the staging of spaces and objects.

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov's work "Morning, Evening, Night..." is a large, three-part installation, built in the East-gallery of Kjarvalsstadir. As in a Chinese box system with rooms within rooms, the world of the imagination is visualized as layers upon layers of reality, moving from the outer world of everyday life into a magical core. This work invites a dialogue with body, vision and imagination, all of which are sent on a journey into the archetypal fairy tale universe.

Joseph Kosuth's work "Recognizable Differences" takes the form of a giant carpet that covers the whole West-gallery, offering the viewer an opportunity to wander, literally, about in Andersen's intellectual universe. The fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes" has been woven into the carpet along with a selection of quotes from Andersen's Danish contemporary Søren Kierkegaard which Kosuth uses to weave a conceptual bridge between Andersen and the biggest critic in his lifetime. Kosuth's second installation is a neon work in the courtyard of the Reykjavik Art Museum's downtown location, Hafnarhús. The source of this work is based on Andersen's questions and answers to himself concerning his preferences in all aspects of life, and thus serves as a kind of self portrait.

In their meeting with Andersen, the artists engage in an exchange which transcends a specific discourse and history and which expresses itself as an exploration of the richness of language, of metaphors and a shared cultural language. These are key elements to be found both in Andersen's universe and in those of contemporary artists.

The exhibition is presented in cooperation with the Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, where it was on view in 2005.

A catalogue has been published in connection with the exhibition with articles and interviews as well as with sections edited by the artists themselves, which elaborate on their installations with words and pictures. The exhibition was originally curated by freelance curator and senior lecturer at the University of Copenhagen, Ann Lumbye Sørensen. The Reykjavik exhibition was organized by Björg Erlingsdóttir.

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Joseph Kosuth
Auðþekkjanleg ólíkindi
Frá sýningunni á Kjarvalsstöðum

Joseph Kosuth Auðþekkjanleg ólíkindi Frá sýningunni á Kjarvalsstöðum


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