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Mie Olise Kjaergaard and Bernd Behr at The Alexia Goethe Gallery
Mie Olise KjŠrgaard, Trawler, 2007, Acrylic on Canvas, 225 x 200 cm.

LONDON.- The Alexia Goethe Gallery presents Mie olise KjŠrgaard and Bernd Behr. At the Alexia Goethe Gallery two young artists share a fascination with architecture, exhibiting works which consider both the conceptual and fantastical potential of abandoned spaces.

Mie olise KjŠrgaard uses deserted structures such as quarry towers, mine shafts, ships and sawmills as the subjects for her paintings. Encapsulating both the function and redundancy of spaces and machines that were once productive, built and designed of necessity; there is a melancholy and sometimes brutality to her depiction of their neglect. Though there is sadness in the emptiness of these aged structures, they become enlivened by her vigorous, celebratory style. Painted in acrylic, the drips and splatters and texture of paint evoke an idea of liquefying, as if the structures are emerging from a sunken depth - even while this is offset by perspective and the emptiness of the backgrounds. The language of the paintings goes beyond the artist’s individual investments to something that is both convincing and unforced. KjŠrgaard captures the essence of these forms primarily through both large and small-scale paintings, but also through constructions and sculptures in wood and cardboard culminating in ramshackle and winding installations.

For this exhibition, KjŠrgaard presents her most ambitious construction to date. As with the series of paintings and drawings the artist uses the outpost ‘Pyramiden’ as her point of departure – a desolate former Russian settlement in the Arctic. The fascination with this stranded city perhaps stems from the isolated nature of her youth which in part was spent on a sparsely inhabited Danish island.

Bernd Behr’s work draws on a fascination with places and events that release architecture from its ascribed function. Working in video, photography and sculpture, he investigates the performative potential of the built environment in its relationship to the photographic and moving image. For this exhibition, Behr presents two works loosely connected to each other.

‘Amoy Gardens’, a 35mm photographic slide and audio installation, features images taken in and around a large building complex in Hong Kong – part residential, part shopping mall – which was the epicentre of the region’s SARS crisis in 2002. While faulty plumbing was eventually discovered to have freely circulated the virus throughout the building’s interior, resulting in a mass evacuation, Behr’s work inverts the catastrophe into an architectural proposition. As his images linger on empty corridors and spaces, the voice of a young Chinese woman reading from a treaty on ‘Exact Air’ by Le Corbusier accompanies the projection. In earshot of the voice over is ‘Topographic Obscenities’, a new large-scale photographic work made specifically for this show. The diptych displays a vertical landscape of rocks, debris and plumbing, fused under a layer of sprayed concrete. Both works play with notions of sedimentation and the architectural subconscious.

Born in Denmark in 1974, Mie olise KjŠrgaard studied architecture both in Aarhus, Denmark where she received her MA and at the Bartlett in London after which she received a funding award for two years from the Danish Arts Council. Although KjŠrgaard has been making art throughout her studies in architecture she decided to focus on her practice by taking an MA in Fine Art at Central St. Martin’s. A finalist in Saatchi’s four new sensations campaign, following this exhibition in London, she looks forward to another solo show at the Barbara Davis Gallery, Texas, later this year. She lives and works in London and Denmark.

Bernd Behr was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1976 and grew up in South-East-Asia. He studied Fine Art at San Jose State University, California and Goldsmiths College, London. He was short listed for the Beck’s Futures Prize at ICA, London, in 2003 and was a recipient of a deciBel Award in 2006. International exhibitions include solo shows at Chisenhale Gallery, London, and e-raum, Cologne, and group exhibitions at Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Ibid Projects, London; Citylights Gallery, Melbourne, and European Kunsthalle, Cologne. He is currently working on a new film project in Shanghai and will be presenting a solo project with High Desert Test Sites in June 2008. He lives and works in London.

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