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23.05.2018 INTERVIEW
Judith Hopf, OUT, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf @ Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet Foto: Torben Zenth.

I always feel so sad that we lost this avantgarde energy - Judith Hopf @ x-rummet, SMK

Judith Hopf has a year long relationship with Statens Museum for Kunst (The National Gallery). In 2014 the museum acquired Untitled (Big Sheep 4) and Untitled (Small Sheep 7) (you can read director Mikkel Bogh’s blog about the works here), and now you can visit OUT in x-rummet.

So we did, and we where lucky enough to meet Judith Hoopf, who told us about her works and shared some thoughts on education in arts.

Judith Hopf, (1969 Karlsruhe (DE)) lives and works in Berlin. 
Since 2008 she has been professor at Städelschule, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Frankfurt/Main.

AF Patricia Stokholm, Torben Zenth

Judith Hopf
10.05.2018 - 09.09.2018

The video

The video is only two minutes and it’s about a neighbourhood in Berlin that was designed in the 80’s,with the very engaged program of international architects coming and inventing houses very avantgarde and trying projects on how we can live together after the wall came down. The building in the video is for example a house by the architect John Hejduk, who was an icon of postmodernist architecture. The other buildings are recent, just finished last year. They are looking back to the end of the 19th century, pretending to be high quality, but looking backwards. It always feels a bit like Disneyland.

I always feel so sad that we lost this avantgarde energy, because I think it is much more fun to think about avantgarde things and challenging architecture. That is what the film is all about, I wanted to make a confrontation and a little animation. This postmodern building is leaving the scene because it’s a bit helpless at the moment and that’s my interpretation of architecture nowadays.

A playful attitude is some of it. An opportunity to be not only about moralistic chatting. I have a tendency to think that I know already, and that I can’t change it anyway. If I question it, then I can feel very encouraged by buildings as the ones Hejduk built.

I don’t have the desire to make everything as it was and should be. I think the whole thing is a bit conformative these days. It’s okay, but there lies a certain… I believe you can also make little holes in the carpet to find other perspectives. That’s what drives me. And I hope that I can give some inspiration. That’s where the playfulness come in.

I make one little film each year. I think it’s like a collier of pearls; some are good and some are really bad. It’s not about posing, but it’s more about concentrating on what i want to share. I share it on my website too, it’s not a possession or institutionally owned knowledge. It should be spread. It could be on a festival or online on Youtube or Vimeo. It’s not designed for high end reception.

The walls

Maybe it’s because I’m so bad at standing that I also make something to sit on. This is a special format you have here in Copenhagen on how to built walls. It looks very common but it’s slightly different in all countries. On the other hand, this method to make baked stones is a global phenomenon since 2000 BC or something. In Africa as well as China and India and so forth. I was fascinated that there is something so unpretentious in all our cultures worldwide. It teased me somehow to work with that. It looks familiar right?

The stones in the pears are from Berlin, they have a different colour. The pears are cut with computer technology, they are not empty inside, it’s not a facade work. It’s quite massive and really heavy. It’s a sculpture in the sense of classic sculpture that you put something away and have a new form done. It’s quite classical.

I tried to bring a bit of quite known urban situations in here. And then conflicting them with some more absurd or artistic variations of it. I think it’s fascinating that it’s just mud, water and cement and it’s…  working with not expensive things, but not producing waste and quite ”eco”. 

I also want to astonish people, making art that is supposed to be something special, but try to make it with very ordinary things, and then try to transform it to other formats. And of course if you do a wall you can sit on it, but a wall can also divide, and you have to go around it, it makes different spheres. It’s also about moving people around the space.

It’s always about involving the viewer, it’s not only the viewer looking at the art, it’s also about the viewer challenging other perceptions of each other. It is about how to perceive things. That’s what I wanted to do.

The pears

It’s a bit ridiculous with the pears. In Berlin we have a lot of bourgeois houses celebrating the family and with decorations, especially in the 19th century decorated houses. And I wanted to bring it to extreme and cut it out of the house and put it here in the museum as and object. Also with the question of bourgeois understanding of decoration. It is repeated in our time, but done with computers. That’s all that I can say about the pears. And also it’s just nice to have nice forms. Childish.

Laptop figures 

These are sculptures I invented in 2010. I wanted to make a study on gestures when the laptop becomes part of your body. 

I’m quite a traveling person and i love it, but at a certain point it was interesting to see that the laptops, or Ipads, all these electronic devices, become such a part of our body language. I think it’s nothing new, because we had it with the TV in the 60’s; that you had a certain not very emancipated relation to electronics and then you just develop a couch potato.

I thought it was interesting, now we have laptops and iPads as part of our body, and maybe it would be nice to emancipate a bit. But it’s just to make an image. Maybe also be a bit amused by the whole funny folding of bodies. There are so many things coming out of the computer and we get so much in - it’s not clear where the border is to the body any more. I did a pamphlet that is also in this little booklet, where I’m suggesting that the computer and the human should make a contract. That the computer should not take over everything. It’s also about giving us a chance to be in relation, and it’s also a nice hello, because it’s not only about my ideas or how funny I am or what I am. My work is also in relation to the art history we have already. I was always an admirer of minimal art and of things you have to work on a bit, to think about what content you get out of it. I wanted to make a hello to this period too.


I work in Städelschule, an art school in Frankfurt, and I have had the professorship in ten years. I have just had a lecture in the art academy in Copenhagen. One point that drives me is to make us understand that you can’t learn your aesthetics. You should more be sensitive and find out what your special tone could be, and that you understand that it has to have a relation to the society we are living in, that it is communication. It’s not so much about winning or being the most organized, that’s also something people do a lot at the moment. Quite often you delegate all processes and try to built up economies where you don’t get knowledge of consequences and how many people you include. It’s quite focused on the output, and I think it’s important that we get the whole process. Maybe it’s not possible to be creative all day long, maybe you can do that three hours and then you have another job to do - reading newspapers or blogs, or whatever you want, to get a relation of the social reality.

I don’t believe in the genres so much, the genres in the arts. Sculptures, painting or video. I think it is the general attitude of what I’m trying to support. I see that the young generation is struggling and fighting a lot, and everybody thinks that their success will be so important - and it should be important too - but I also see how serious everybody is. And that you can’t pay everything with only money - the engagement is beyond neoliberal economies. And i’m not romantic, I think we really have to do business, but the energy is also rooted by curiosity, it has many faces.

I try not to think about good or bad art, I have no idea what good art is or what bad art is. I really try to allow for curiosity - don’t get too shy because you think you have to have success only. It’s important, we have to be ambitious, it’s a highly competitive thing, if you want to get professional work done - now there is also global competition. So it would be naive to say: ”No, no, just stay with your inner special human individuality”. I don’t believe in economics only, but I think we have to discuss and understand it, and we should fight for it. But it’s only part of the whole thing. I think that it is unfair to only contemplate a neoliberal understanding. I also think that competition could be productive if it’s more playful. It’s quite sportive what we are doing at the moment.


I've had much support from Denmark and especially from this institution (SMK). It’s so nice to be here. Because I have close friends working here, a lot of Danish artists are friends of mine, or colleagues, we had collaborations before I got institutionalized.

People often say that I’m ironic or humorous and I think it’s obvious that it is part of an understanding of how the world is. I never decided on it, it was more part of the position I found in the world. I think it’s also a method to get a distance to the overall power, it’s not so easy to catch humour, you can’t plan it so easy. You can end up being ridiculous or stupid or misunderstood or embarrassing and that’s why I never try to be humorous.

It’s like these small balls in Kafka’s Blumfeld, ein älterer Junggeselle, they always jump behind me. And sometimes I think that it is quite idiotic what I’m doing. All the efforts going on - it’s so exhausting - and still I think that that in itself is a bit humorous. You could be more intelligent, use other methods or something. So it’s accepting the knowledge that you are not in the most powerful position and still trying to make a voice. It’s an interesting test, to expose that. Because there is not so much humour allowed in aesthetics.

Thank you.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: Out (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

Judith Hopf, Out, Statens Museum for Kunst, x-rummet

Judith Hopf: OUT (installation view), 2018. Foto: Frida Gregersen.

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