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15.01.2013 INTERVIEW

Rasmus Høj Mygind: untitled (nepdune safe aquarelle), 2012, water colour on paper, protective tape. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

That painting is Mario Balotelli  

Kunstner Leslie Chau interviewer Rasmus Høj Mygind i forbindelse med gruppeudstillingen Protein Mix på Henningsen Gallery.  

AF Leslie Chau

So Rasmus, I am sitting here on the other side of the planet in front of my computer, looking at the documentation of the show in Copenhagen. It looks nice and colour coordinated. And I can see you have curated yourself into this show. Isn't that a little pretentious?
Ha, is it? I don't know. I don't think so. I'm an artist who makes artwork, and who sometimes curates or arranges shows with other artists -­ I'm clearly not a curator who occasionally makes an artwork. In any case it is so much more interesting for myself to put my own work in relation to other artist's work, than to "just" curate and organize. It's more fun for me. And of course that's what it is all about right? To have fun doing what you do -­‐ and do the work for yourself, first of all. Besides I think it's also more fair to the other artist in the show that I also put my own work on the limb, now that I ask them to do so.

So you are saying you're basically only making art for yourself?
Well, I hope someone else find it interesting too of course. But yes, primarily for myself. I'm not Olafur Eliasson or Jeppe Hein who has the audience in mind from the start as a crucial part of the artwork itself. (I actually think they would agree that they are doing what they are doing primarily for themselves as well.) I'm making art for myself because I enjoy the process (some of the time I also hate it of course) and the freedom of the practice. I couldn't find the energy to do this kind of work if I didn't do it chiefly for my own pleasure.

The show consists of 9 artists - mostly younger Danish artists, one American and a guy from South Korea. How was this group of artist and work put together?
As is often the case when artist curates shows, most of the artists are friends and local colleagues. I invited people I was a fan of basically. Some of the works were done before hand, some of them for this show.
All of the work somehow deals with a kind of transformation or copying. Not all in an obvious way, but enough I hope to ooze out of each work and to mix with the rest of the works to in turn transform into a coherent exhibition.

The first work I knew I wanted in the show was the painting (untitled) by Peter Birkholm. On the painting are portraits of Peter himself, of Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen (who also has a work in this show) and myself. The piece is an oil painting, a 'reverse reproduction' or painted copy of a photo taken while we were still studying at the academy a few years back.

So why is the painting leaning against the window facing the street and not hanging on the wall like a painting should?
You think paintings should hang on the wall? I think I'd like to start having sculptures hang on the wall and paintings lie on the floor. But in this case the painting was just visually too loud, like a black hole sucking all the light from all the other work. It's a diva, not really a team player. That painting is Mario Balotelli. But obviously placing it in the window facing out solved that, without taking anything away from the work itself. And at the same time Peter posing as Hulk seemed a fitting backdrop behind the foil title on the window, Protein Mix of course also being the name of a favoured drink by bodybuilders.
Learning from colleagues and friends, 'stealing ' from them and the importance of sparring ideas with them etc., is something I was thinking about while doing this show, something I think this painting serves to hint at in this context. I certainly think the two other artist in the painting are very good artists, and I have learned a lot from them.

Okay. Yes, I think paintings should hang on the wall. I'm so bored with artist being 'uhhh so cheeky and freshhh' placing paintings on the floor or where ever. Put it so I can see it properly! But never mind that now. This painting reminds me of the work by the French painter Jed Martin, who did these group-­‐portraits of working-­‐colleagues. But this style of painting is much more kitsch and some of the stuffed animals are looking weirdly disfigured. It's almost scary. It's interesting however, to see 'realistic' portraits. You don't see a lot of that these days in contemporary art. I wonder if the way you are portrayed captures your personalities quite well?
I actually don't know that artist you mention. But yes I agree, I thought it was refreshing to see a realistic painted portrait in a contemporary art situation. I love the work actually, and yeah, it does capture our personalities quite well I guess, so in that regard it's a very successful portrait.

The concrete pillars dispersed in the show, what are they?
They are a work by Amitai Romm, Peristyle (4/6). They are reinforced concrete casts based on existing architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright that was also used in the 1982 sci-­‐fi film Blade Runner, (a movie about human copying.) The pillars are placed on bases of copy paper packs named FUTURE. There's a scope about this work that really fascinates me. It holds both a faint echo from a grandiose distant past and a promise of an easy tomorrow afternoon.

Potatoes?
Marianne Vierø did Potato Print (analogue c-­‐print) that consists of c-­‐prints on aluminium of enlarged photographs of potatoes used for potato printing. Various direct prints clustering on the walls and ceiling of the gallery in the exact same shapes and size as the cut potatoes in the photographs suggest some impossibly large potatoes were used. I really like the playfulness and strange territory of that conundrum. Chew a little on that sweet patato.

What is up with the black and white fractal looking print?
That's a work by American artist Bhakti Baxter. It's a large test-­print for a wallpaper, based on a smaller print he did by hand applying the natural principles of Darcy's Law. A piece of paper was "pressed" with a board of the same size, producing the fractal like pattern when the board presses paint on a flat surface and is peeled back, creating the branching pattern of viscous paint automatically. I find the universality of this piece strangely calming, this is a pattern you could find everywhere in the cosmos, and as such it is something that all the other works can bounce off of. It even has this kind of yin/yang thing going, almost exact same amount of white as black, positive and negative everywhere. So it's placed exactly in the middle of the show.

There are two small wonderful paintings by Agnete Bertram, can I have them please?
You'll have to talk to Andreas (Henningsen) about that. But yes, they are really wonderful, Daphne 3 and 4. In the Greek myths Daphne is a water nymph that was transformed into a tree by Gaia. Going from wet to dry, like the painting process itself. I also love the leather frames Agnete has designed for the paintings. The shape of the leaves of one of the works are somewhat echoed in the green oil stick wall drawing SUPPORT by Ditte Gantriis, on which another work by her, untitled (nullified), a unique silk screen print of a perfect large doodle is hung. That's a work I would buy if I had the money for it. Actually this whole show consists of works I would buy if I could afford it. But Leslie, this is tiny Denmark, it's different over here - there aren't really any decent collectors, and the few there are don't really buy from young emerging artist. It's no fun. So forget about making a living selling your work here. It's only because we have a relatively good government art funding system that there are any interesting artist left in Denmark. I'll probably have to move soon. Is Hong Kong nice?

Hong Kong is nice if you like smog and banksters. Let's get back to the show. I think my favourite work in it, (an opinion purely based on the pics you have sent me of course), is Tight Dialogue with Vanishing Analysis (vitamins), by Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen. I really like it visually. But explain to me, what are the bags on the floor?
The bags are foldable water bottles normally used for hiking. They are filled with the 'Vitamin Water' from the empty bottles next to them. This product that pretends to be something healthy, (but isn't really) is another version of a similar product 'Vitamin Well' that Henningsen gallery serve at openings. On top of the sculpture are three hangers on which stacks of prints of photos of the exhibition are hanging. Heine, who often addresses the exhibition situation in his more or less site-­‐ specific works, is also doing this here - engaging his sculpture/installation in a loopy, generous dialogue with the rest of the works. I think it's brilliant.

Okay. Then to my least favourite work in this show, your work, untitled (nepdune safe aquarelle), a framed abstract watercolour - with some tape on the glass or what is that?
Yes, what you said. The tape is on the inside of the glass, so 'officially' a part of the work. This tape you would normally remove after the transportation of the work where it serve as a precaution for the framed work should the glass be broken. But here the tape is purposely kept and used as an element in the composition. I'm interested in using gestures we don't normally consider important enough to really notice or celebrate, or that we would discard after use. In this case dealing with the meta-­‐situation of art handling, twisting that and making us notice what we are dealing with. It's often the residue -­ in any situation -­ that I find most compelling.
I hope it's because all the other work are so very good that you like mine the least?

Yes, all the other works are quite good as far as I can make out from the pictures, (it is hard for me to get an ide of the video by Jung of course.) But your piece strikes me as being just silly, as a gimmick really. It is kind of pretty, sure, but it doesn't really do anything for me. It's boring. What do I need it for? Sorry, but you asked me to be honest, and I don't buy that whole 'meta' explanation you gave.
Okay then. The video by Changgyung Jung consists of a recording of a feedback composition on a hacked Yamaha keyboard, with audio responsive visuals. I saw him play it live in Seoul once, and I thought it was perfect for this show, dealing with a translation or transformation from sound to image in a saturated abstract and deliciously noisy way I haven't really seen or heard before.

Thanks a lot for your thoughts Leslie. I know it might have been a bit weird dealing with something that you have only seen on a computer screen.

Well, no. It is okay, really most of the art I see, I see online. And most shows have the biggest audience online as well. Think of a site like ContemporaryArtDaily.com and how much blogs like that is making art more accessible than previous. But also how it might be spreading trends a lot quicker. For better or worse. For instance I could have you suspected of stealing from someone like Will Benedict who's work you have surely seen on CAD. Am I right? In fact this whole show looks like something you could have seen on CAD. Are you basically just stealing and pretending?
I'm so glad I asked you to do this email interview with me. Do Chinese people get sarcasm? I thought you we're done. But in answer to your question, yes, I'm stealing all the time, from all kinds of artists and all kinds of stuff in the world. And pretending as well, sure - I would say art is all about pretending.
But I think that all artists are really working together in a way, 'Stealing' from each other. It's all a big joint continued project. And once in a while something more original pops out.

That is certainly a pretty picture to end this interview with.
Yes, isn't it? Thank you Leslie.

Okay.

Protein Mix, 2012-2013. Installation view with work by Peter Birkholm. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Protein Mix, 2012-2013. Installation view. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Protein Mix, 2012-2013. Installation view. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Marianne Vierø: Potato Print, 2012, 100 x 88 cm, Analogue C-print. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Marianne Vierø: Potato Print, 2012, Analogue C-print. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Amitai Romm: Peristyle (4/6), 2011-2012, reinforced concrete, printer paper. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Amitai Romm: Peristyle (4/6) (detail), 2011-2012, reinforced concrete, printer paper. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Amitai Romm: Alias, 2011, epoxy coated embroidery. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Protein Mix, 2012-2013. Installation view. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Agnete Bertram: Daphne 3, 2012, oil, acrylic on canvas, leather. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Agnete Bertram: Daphne 4, 2012, oil, acrylic on canvas, leather. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Changgyun Jung: Re-work, 2012, 7 min., recorded feedback composition, audio responsive visuals. audio/video. Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen: Tight Dialogue with Vanishing Analysis (vitamins). Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen: Tight Dialogue with Vanishing Analysis (vitamins). Foto: Mikkel Carl.

Heine Thorhauge Mathiasen: Tight Dialogue with Vanishing Analysis (vitamins). Foto: Mikkel Carl.

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