Contemporary Danish art

On 12 th of August (friday), at 5 p.m. Klaipėda Culture Communication Centre Exhibition hall (Didžioji Vandens str. 2, Klaipėda) opens Contemporary Danish Art exhibition „Bedlam. On normality and other obsessions“.

An exhibition that explores the current notion of normality and the potential of insanity. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, ‘One does not secure one’s own common sense by locking up the neighbour’. But most societies still secure and protect normality and common sense by isolating or locking up those who deviate, being of religious, political, sexual, ethnical or mental reasons. By stamping ‘the different’ as dangerous, mad or not trustworthy, society’s common understanding of normality is strengthened.
The name Bedlam, originally Bethlehem, comes from a mental hospital in London. In the 18th century it became popular to visit the hospital and for 1 penny, one could get to see ‘the freaks of Bethlehem’. More than 100.000 people visited the place in only one year and visitors were allowed to bring sticks to push and infuriate the incarcerated. ‘Bedlam’ became an expression for inferno and chaos – the worst imaginable place.

Today we largely live with a media produced picture of reality, which contains rather bold assumptions. The artists participating in the exhibition find it necessary to question the public opinion of what defines normality? The marginalized grow in number and the surveillance of every citizen is increased. In prime-time television bizarre crossings of docu-soaps and freak shows are shown. In front of the screen one can safely confirm one’s own normality and secretly watch and point fingers at others.

In the exhibition 8 artists are working with different critical approaches to the notion of normality. The exhibition shows for example Nanna Gro Henningsen’s installation Twisted Gaze of Madness, which takes departure in the mental hospital Salpêtrière in Paris. The photo material which is part of the installation, is a remake of original photos of female patients.  Jeanette Land Schou and Karen Gabel Madsen show a clothing installation with departure in textile works from Sct. Hans mental hospital. Bodil Brem’s contribution consists of a series of paintings with the title Komprimeret Golden Age. Vicky Steptoe’s painted portraits revolve around our inner worlds of shades. Pernelle Maegaard paints different figures in people’s homes; on the toilet, in the bedroom, in abandoned houses and in the public space. In Nina Marie Kleivan’s video a series of little ghostlike figures appear in white creased tissue paper with Adolf Hitler’s face on. In the audio a male voice is heard expressing emotional statements, which typically are related to a female universe. Finally Lotte Tauber Lassen’s video piece emerges from a collection of 9455 brains kept at the Psychiatric Hospital in Århus. In the years 1945-1982 they were secretly gathered from patients who died while hospitalized in one of the psychiatric state hospitals in Denmark.

Participating artists: Nanna Gro Henningsen, Nina Maria Kleivan, Lotte Tauber Lassen, Pernelle Maegaard, Vicky Steptoe, Karen Gabel Madsen, Bodil Brems and Jeanette Land Schou.

Exhibition will be held till 2 of October, 2011.

Organizers:  Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre and “The Association Bedlam”

Culture support foundation,
JSC „DSV Transport“
Danish Art Council

Partners of the project:
Danish Arts Council, Embassy of Denmark, Vilnius, Attaché Lotte Skovgaard,  Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Kingdom of Denmark, to the Kingdom of Norway and to the Republic of Iceland Culture attaché Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, „Klaipeda Seamen‘s hospital“