artists & participants
As the title indicates, the artists are all invited because of a certain playful attitude, which characterizes their artistic practices. All of them are ’fresh minds’ who produce art with vigour and great intellectual energy. However, they do it in a very different manner. The artists occupy a wide spectrum – ranging from works with an explicit, direct and almost pop political attitude, to expressions that are more poetic and complex, yet accurate and stringent in their own manner. And this is a key underlying idea of the exhibition – that you can be both: conceptual and stringent but also playful and free-spirited. The exhibition aims to show that such attitudes and strategies can coexist and be meaningful in a time where the art world all too often divides art into rigid categories: either pure l’art pour l’art-exhibitions – or exhibitions which present art purely as ideology/politics.
Rather than to accentuate a given tendency on the contemporary art scene, Playschool aims at putting forward a quality in art which has proud ancestors in the history of art – some of the works in the exhibition are for example rooted in early Dada-happenings or 1960s pop political manifestations. Playschool is the story of alchemy at work – a complex blend of idea and object, action and thinking.
Jakob S. Boeskov (1973-) is known for his critical interventions in various corporate environments. For Playschool he has produced a large outdoor balloon, as a contribution to the discussion about Danish shipping industry and it’s engagement in international weapon production. Recently, Boeskov has participated in the China Police weapon fair in Beijing representing an imaginary Danish weapon maker – more about this in the journal Black Box of which Boeskov is one of the editors.
Stéphane Calais (1967-) says that his works are connected to a formal intelligence rather than a classically French linguistic intelligence. All the same, questions of language and object are closely related in his works. In Playschool one of Calais' displayed works is the sculpture Boxe Thaï (1999) which is a complicated but subtle object, comprised of a basketball and peacock feathers, among other things. Here, Thai boxing is here the image of the intellectual effort (almost headache-inducing!) caused by the formal expression - but the sculpture also alludes to the elegance of this martial art. Furthermore, it is a paradoxical object that does not take itself too seriously - it is full of air and has the potential to bounce away.
Öyvind Fahlström (1928-1976) is part of the first generation of pop artists. His effective, cartoon-like expression is akin to that of American pop art but his message is more in the realm of the European – and far more political – pop art. The painting World Trade Monopoly (1970) is one of Fahlström's famous variable pieces where you can move - by way of magnets - the international economic world order in a game of Monopoly about world trade.
Karl Holmqvist (1964-), performance artist and poet. Holmqvist’s complex multimedia installation deals with human as well as elephant’s rights and invokes historical figures such as William Morris and Dag Hammarskjöld. On the last day of the exhibition Holmqvist will lecture and there will opportunity for further discussions on what the world should be (over tea and cake!)
Kirstine Roepstorff (1972-). The concept ’consequence-freedom’ is a keyword for Roepstorff’s contribution to Playschool which, among others, consists of a large outdoor banner – picturing a traditional theater curtain. Roepstorff points out that the western world often acts on firmly held ideas, such as democracy, human rights or peacekeeping forces. These are cornerstones in a fundamental and all-encompassing morality, which grants the western world a monopoly on the truth and thus enables it to ’buy its way out of consequences' - go to war without risking the lives of its own soldiers. The theater curtain represents the membrane between actuality/illusion, reality/dream.
Eva Rothschild (1972-) is interested in religious spiritualism and the escapism that characterizes the ever positive New Age-imagery. This is particularly visible in her woven wall hangings, which often have a touch of New Age to them, but which are, at the same time, a critical reworking of the idealistic symbolism. For Playschool, Rothschild has produced a new wall piece, Eyeyoga – and she also shows two of her always very concise sculptures. One hanging, Hothouse, consists of coloured leather straps, which form associations to hanging plants, but also to ritualistic artifacts from primitive cultures. In addition, Rothschild will make a site-specific incense piece in the gallery.
Franz West (1947-) was one of the first to introduce the idea of the functional sculpture. He is famous for his so-called ’paBstück’ (fitting piece) from the early 1970s – a homemade term that denotes sculptures that you can use, move about, and sometimes also wear. The installation Goran (2001) contains such a ’paBstück’, but also a series of his characteristic chairs – which are also to be perceived as sculptures. That is also why you cannot always sit on the chairs. Franz West’s take on the idea of functionality in regards to sculpture and chairs is a crucial contribution to the art historical discussion of the concept of sculpture. Furthermore, Franz West is an important inspiration to a great deal of the leading young artists in Denmark.
Playschool is an international group exhibition with participation of the following artists: Jakob S. Boeskov (DK), Stéphane Calais (F), Öyvind Fahlström (S), Karl Holmqvist (S), Kirstine Roepstorff (DK), Eva Rothschild (IRL) and Franz West (A).
mit Jakob S. Boeskov, Stephane Calais, Öyvind Fahlström, Karl Holmqvist, Kirstine Roepstorff, Eva Rothschild, Franz West