Danish cities surely can be nice – but sometimes it’s even nicer to escape to the countryside. ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst in the south of Copenhagen makes a perfect day-trip, as it’s also located at the sea. Let’s go!
«Powerless Structures, Fig.101», a sculpture showing a boy on a wooden horse presented on a classical plinth from 2012 by Elmgreen & Dragset, was chosen to be the new landmark of the Danish museum ARKEN. It is located in the south of Copenhagen, in an area called «Vestegn» which became popular from the 1960ies on as a residential area. ⠀
The aim of Danish cultural politics was to give the newly settled population a possibilty to experience not only national but also international art in their district. Originally the museum with its deconstructivist architecture was suppossed to be located on the beach like a shipwreck, but in fact it was moved inland because of practical and conservational reasons. It opened in 1996 and was extended two times and also gives out its own art prize sind 206. ⠀
Right outside the door lies one of Denmark’s most beautiful sandy beaches, so you can combine a museum visit to ARKEN with a day out at the beach, also in winter times. ⠀
Of course you can also find one of these so called «Hygge-Houses» outside the museum. If you never heard of the «hygge»-trend before, forget about it, because it was already replaced by a same same, but different Swedish version of how to lead a cosy lifestyle as I was told. ⠀
However: You can find public art from the museum’s collection already along your way from the station to the museum, like Øivind Nygård’s sculpture «Stadium» from 1995 or the piece «8900054» from 1996 by ever present Olafur Eliasson. Both are proofs of the very special Danish way of combining art with a touch of timeless classic design. In one way or another those artworks function also in a way like a vocabulary of solitude. ⠀
Just if you wondered: The name ARKEN for the museum was chosen from an open competition.
After arriving at ARKEN museum you will be greeted by the impressive installation «Vocabulary of Solitude» by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (*1964) from 2014-2016 situated at ARKEN’s 150-metre-long Art Axis. He produced 45 hyperrealistic clowns, which are shown in contemplative poses and a somehow passive mode which is in a way anarchistic as this attitude refuses a life of neoliberal self-optimisation. ⠀
Each one of the figures is said to represent one of 45 acts Rondinone has chosen to form a portrait of a single person’s day: «be. breathe. sleep. dream. wake. rise. sit. hear. look. think. stand. walk. pee. shower. dress. drink. fart. shit. read. laugh. cook. smell. taste. eat. clean. write. daydream. remember. cry. nap. touch. feel. moan. enjoy. float. love. hope. wish. sing. dance. fall. curse. yawn. undress. lie.» Quite an impressing program aspired to be made evident by the work. ⠀
With staying inside the exhibition hall for a while the puppets really seem to come alive. That’s one reason why the installation inspires the visitors to extend it by mingling with the clowns and posing next to them for photos. Through this actions the artwork is extended by very private acts which only belong to oneself and the onlookers. ⠀
The borders and limitations of the daily routines and the common feelings illustrated by the artist and the concepts of the «real» and the «imagined» are beeing blured and extended by the interactions of the visitors. ⠀
Even after getting photographed and putting it online.
When I visited ARKEN it was not only my private start into a new year, but it was also one day after the Chinese New Year has been celebrated around the world. Finally the year of the cock is over – now we’re already right in the year of the dog. The dog is the eleventh of the 12-year cycle to the Chinese calendar, followed by the pig. ⠀
The animals are always additionally being combined with one of five elements: So 2018 is the year of the Earth Dog which is said to be not only communicative, serious and responsible in work, but also the most sensible and serious of the Dog types.⠀
For example Madonna (*1958) and Kate Bush are and Michael Jackson (*1958) and Prince (*1958) were Earth Dogs; Elvis Presley was a Wood Dog (*1935). ⠀
Here we see some sculptures of Ai Weiwei’s (*1957) artwork «Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads» from 2010 which consists of all the animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. ⠀
In the 18th century 12 animal heads were produced after drawings in a European style by an Italian Jesuit monk for the emperor in Beijing and they decorated a large fountain in the palace Yuanming Yuan. After the European invasion the French and British armies stole them and they disappeared. ⠀
Seven of them reappeard in European auction sales and therefore became an even greater national symbol. Today all the original heads are back in China. ⠀
Ai Weiwei spreads their reputation back into the world not only as metre-tall sculptures in public spaces throughout major cities and but also as gold-plated bronzes in the collection of the ARKEN museum. So they became also a symbol of cultural interactions and exchanges of different values – may it be symbolic or economic. ⠀
Happy new year of the dog to us all with lots of animating interactions and inspiring exchanges under the lucky stars of the Earth Dog! • ⠀
Photos: © Norbert Bayer