press release

The tower of Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center - the tower of the old Church of Saint Nicholas – provided the starting point for an exhibition project involving six contemporary artists from Hamburg and Copenhagen. The artists were invited to reflect on the history and function of the tower, either as a specific building, or in a more general sense as a concept: the tower as a historical, religious, political or psychologically archetypal symbol.

The artists were: Tjorg Beer (D), Baldur Burwitz (D), Jakob Boeskov (DK), Peter Callesen (DK), Oliver Kochta (D) and Frank Lüsing (D).

Tjorg Beer commented on the building's function as a church and as an art centre – functions which some people feel demand quiet and devotion. Tjorg Beer brought the building and its works physically closer by creating a copy of the church. On Nikolaj Square, there thus was a church which one could enter and which enabled one to adopt a different perspective on Nikolaj.

Baldur Burwitz reflected on Nikolaj church as an architectural organism. Teasingly, the artist raised the question of stability in architecture. In his work, the stability of the large church building was transformed into a living organism which could disintegrate. Almost like a volcano – if, admittedly, a somewhat enigmatic one – the roof would eject tiles down onto the square.

Jakob Boeskov looked at the tower as a religious and political manifesto. His work Sex Jihad was a satirical paraphrase of a Renaissance painting of the Virgin Mary blessing, among others, Christopher Columbus. The original painting can be seen at the Salon del Almirante in Sevilla, the town where so many of the famous 'conquistadores' planned their expeditions in the name of Jesus and European enlightenment.

Peter Callesen reflected on the tower as a spiritual and religious symbol. On the day of the opening and on the following day, the artist performed Wishing Chair in front of the tower, in which the worldly prayers of the guests was sent up into the air to be answered by the artist, as an echo of the traditional religious act of praying. Inside the tower, the artist created spiritual stairs, delicate and frail, which seemed to challenge the law of gravitation of the material world.

Oliver Kochta's theme was the tower as a location from which one can control one's surroundings. On monitors one could follow what was happening on the square in front of Christiansborg, the Danish parliament and on Nikolaj Square, and could check out fellow visitors to Nikolaj's tower. Other monitors showed mysterious things happening in the tower, thus blending fact and fiction.

Frank Lüsing created heavy weather at the top of the tower and enabled the visitor to get an insight into heights and strata of air which are normally out of reach. Thunder, flashes of light and smoke shaked the tower where other secret activities also took place. Meaningful acts was replaced by meaningless ones, and hidden dimensions became visible.

On the Night of Culture, the six artists made a joint performance which – in a fairly free interpretation – took as its starting point Hans Christian Andersen's singspiel of 1829, Kjærlighed paa Nicolai Taarn (Love at Nicolai Tower).

The exhibition was part of the cultural collaboration Hamburg to Copenhagen 2003 and was supported by The Danish Ministry of Culture, Kulturbehörde Hamburg, The Danish Cultural Institute and The Triangle Region Denmark.

The exhibition was arranged by Elisabeth Delin Hansen, director of Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, and visual artist Peter Callesen.


only in german

kuratiert von Elisabeth Delin Hansen und Peter Callesen

mit Tjorg Douglas Beer, Baldur Burwitz, Jakob S. Boeskov, Peter Callesen, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Frank Lüsing