press release

The Personal City

Is it possible to create an entire city from the houses in which one has lived throughout one’s life – a home city in the most literal sense? The contemporary Danish artist Morten Stræde seeks to answer this question in his new large total installation HOMECITY. Comprising 200 computer drawings, seven sculptures, four animated films and a model city, the work has been underway for a decade. From 11 March it is presented in toto for the first time at ARKEN.

HOMECITY is an autobiographical work: Working from memory, Stræde has reconstructed the sixteen homes he has had throughout his life. Virtually at first, on his computer; subsequently in physical space, as wooden models. An entire city has sprung from this, mapping out the artist’s life from the houses he has lived in. Therefore HOMECITY tells a very personal story but it is also a typical European city with traces back in time. For Stræde has wished to infuse the city with a collective, historical dimension reaching beyond his own memories, experiences and connections to certain spaces and places. Thus Stræde’s home city includes both Renaissance images of the ideal city and one of the contemporary architect Bernard Tschumi’s pavilions from the urban park Parc de la Villette in Paris.

HOMECITY, then, is about personal recollection, the collective historical consciousness and the history of the European city. At the same time it concerns the way in which we take in our surroundings and the spaces of the city, and how we describe them via more or less scientific systems and structures. The exhibition spotlights our notions of the city and how the physical setting influences us, both emotionally and intellectually.

The architect of the utopia Stræde’s home city attempts on several levels to bring history – the common as well as the private one – into the present. However, despite all references to existing buildings, HOMECITY is a utopia – a fantastic, nonexistent place; the embodiment of a city in which you are completely at home but which only exists somewhere between memory and fancy. In order to erect the image of a home city with historical resonance in our minds, Stræde acts as a sort of architect of the utopia: He constructs the project by way of three-dimensional computer drawings, animated films and a large-scale wooden model. He describes the architectural details in both two and three dimensions and in a variety of scales, just as one would a ‘real’ city.

Morten Stræde (DK 1956) Morten Stræde (b. 1956) has been a dominant figure on the Danish art scene since the 1980s. He is an alumnus of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (1978-85), first under Sven Dalsgaard and subsequently Hein Heinsen. 1994-2003 Stræde served as professor of sculpting at the institution.

Morten Stræde is represented in a large number of museums in Denmark and Scandinavia and furthermore has created several sculptures for Danish city spaces. A frequent exhibitor of both solo and groups shows at home and abroad, Stræde participates in the ongoing debate about developing the city and public space through his artistic production, his work in various municipal and art committees as well as his theoretical writings.

Stræde has been awarded numerous prizes, including in 2000 the Eckersberg Medallion. In recognition of his significant contributions to Danish art, in October 2005 Morten Stræde was awarded the lifelong artists’ grant by The Danish Arts Foundation.


only in german

Morten Straede: Homecity