press release

Tensta Konsthall is proud to present a double exhibition opening and a real kick off to our spring schedule.

RETHINK KAKOTOPIA and The Children of Ceausescu

Opening on Saturday February 20th 13.00 - 18.00

RETHINK KAKOTOPIA curated by Elisabeth Delin Hansen (Director of the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center in Copenhagen)

Kakotopia was the term used by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham to describe a negative state of society, an anti-utopia characterized by chaos and disintegration. At the beginning of the 21st century, mankind, due to climate changes, finds itself in a state in which a change of the conditions for life on our planet seems to have become ever clearer. The exact consequences are uncertain and highly debated; but many things seem to indicate that they may be extensive. RETHINK KAKOTOPIA takes this very kakotopia as its point of departure: a situation in which faith in technological solutions wrestles with apocalyptic visions, drawing on deeply rooted fantasies of disaster.

RETHINK - Contemporary Art & Climate Change is organized by the Alexandra Institute - a research-based limited company that bridges the gap between the IT corporate sector, research and education. The exhibition is curated as a collaboration between the National Gallery of Denmark, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, and the Alexandra Institute, in which each is represented with their particular part of the overall exhibition in their own venue (Alexandra's part is exhibited at Moesgård Museum in Århus): RETHINK Relations, RETHINK The Implicit, RETHINK Information and RETHINK Kakotopia - the latter being Nikolaj's contribution and the exhibition on show at Tensta Konsthall.

RETHINK - Contemporary Art & Climate Change has been elected as the "Nordic Exhibition of the Year 2009-2010" by the Nordic Culture Fund and has received support from the Branding Denmark Fund, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Arts Council's Committee for Visual Art. The exhibition was a part of the official cultural programme in connection with the UN Global Climate Summit, COP 15, Copenhagen, December 7 to 18 2009.

The Children of Ceausescu curated by William Easton Images: Kent Klich Texts: Herta Müller

Kent Klich has worked on the project The Children of Ceausescu since 1994 when he first visited some of the sate orphanages in Romania. The work documents the worst AIDS epidemic among children the world has ever seen. Through the deliberate refusal to see the disease as a problem, regarding it only as something affecting western Capitalism, the Romanian dictator Nicholae Ceausescu exacerbated the tragedy of mass orphanhood caused by his own social policies. When thousands of sick and malnourished orphan children across Romania were given quick pick-me-up blood transfusions that proved to be tainted with HIV, AIDS spread rapidly. The result has been a human catastrophe with tens of thousands of HIV positive children living in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Following the overthrow of Ceausescu's regime, the lives of these children have improved, but as Klich documents, the social stigma of AIDS and the continuing levels of extreme poverty, coupled with ethnic and class differences in present day Romania continue to play a role in shaping this tragedy.

In 2000 Klich approached Herta Müller to write a text to accompany his images. Müller's account of her work as a teacher in the former communist Romania creates a chilling echo for Klich's photographs. As with much of her work she writes in a style that is paired down to the nub, stripped of any unnecessary poetic embroidery that seems to throw his portraits into stark relief. In 2004 Klich made another visit and interviewed the children he had met earlier, who by then were teenagers some reunited with their parents. The result was a video made with Brita Landoff and included in the exhibition "No Name Fever" shown at the Museum of World Culture in 2004.

The combination of text, photographs and video create an exhibition that is challenging and perhaps even harrowing in its directness. Like other works by Klich it his integrity and care that creates a bridge between audience and subject and the result is as sincere as it is moving.

Künstler: Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway, Bill Burns, Haubitz & Zoche, Tue Greenfort, Tea Mäkipää, Cornelia Parker, Superflex and Fiona Tan.
Kurator: Elisabeth Delin Hansen


The Children of Ceausescu
Künstler: Kent Klich, Herta Müller
Kurator: William Easton