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The Arena of the Body: Participation and activity are in focus in ARKEN's summer exhibition
Jeppe Hein, Cage and Mirror, 2011. Photo: ARKEN.

COPENHAGEN.- Step into the asymmetrical wooden labyrinth and explore the interior of the installation. Venture out on the water and experience new perspectives on the landscape in the mirror of the steel cage. Grasp the white and red rubber handles and try out the unusual steel sculptures. The exhibition explores the relationship between the human body and the surrounding world. Three works by Thilo Frank (b. 1978) and Lea Guldditte Hestelund (b. 1983) have been acquired for this summer’s exhibition, while Jeppe Hein’s (b. 1974) Cage and Mirror has been moved out to a newly established platform in the lagoon which surrounds The Art Island. They invite us to sense, interact and become aware through the body and stage our expectations of bodily activity and our views on bodily norms.

Step inside the wooden spiral
From a distance the installation is impossible to comprehend and decode. You have to narrow the distance and move in along the narrow path, around the inner spiral of the work. Once you have explored the work with your own body, You and I, wandering on the snake’s tail reveals its true form: a wooden construction formed of 45 wooden frames irregularly positioned around an empty core. As the sun moves across the sky the installation will change its expression. When the beams of the sun strike the wooden slats, a dyna­mic shadow pattern arises in the grass around it. When darkness comes, the lamp in the middle of the work will light up and create another shadow play. Thilo Frank has created an architectural dislocation that intrudes on the everyday events in Strandparken. In the encounter with the work, the initiative is left to you. You can challenge your normal patterns of motion, go exploring and see yourself, others and the natural surroundings from new perspectives.

Thilo Frank (b. 1978) lives and works in Munich and Berlin. He studied at Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He has taken part in many solo and group shows around the world and previously participated in two exhibitions at ARKEN; TREFFPUNKT: Berlin, 2012 and Art in Sunshine, 2015.

Different bodies, different possibilities
Body pump, crossfit, circle exercise and spin. In the course of the past few years, terms like these have sneaked into our vocabulary, and fitness exercises have become part of many Danes’ everyday life. So there’s nothing odd about Lea Guld­ditte Hestelund’s two sculptures reminding you of the gym and the culture of fitness. Try grasping the rubber handles of the sculptures: Which muscles are they designed to exercise? The titles The Compensators, I and The Compensators, II are close to the word compensation. A compensation is a replacement for something lost and is often intended as help or support. But these sculptures can be used neither for physical training or support. As they stand there, one on the beach dunes and the other on its way into the water, the peculiar steel bodies rather take the form of living figures. Perhaps the para­doxical and powerless sculp­tures are to be interpreted as a critical comment on our body culture. They do not remind us of typical bodies, but for that very reason they may be representations of another type of body. They make us aware of society’s body norms and remind us that different bodies have different possibilities.

Lea Guldditte Hestelund (b. 1983) was educated at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and The Art Academy in Düsseldorf. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions e.g. at Overgaden. Institute for Contemporary Art; ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and Eduardo Secci, Florence. Her two sculptures, which are now presented at ARKEN, were created for the annual art project Polynorm in Øregårdsparken, Gentofte, where Lea Guldditte Hestelund was invited to make works about contemporary views on “normality”.

Venture out on the water
With its curved steel bars Cage and Mirror looks like a cage for locking up wild, exotic animals, but if you step out on the platform and into the cage, you encounter the round mirror that hangs in the middle of the work. There, you can see your own reflection merging with fragments of ARKEN’s surroundings. But only briefly, because the mirror rotates with the force of the wind, the individual images disappear quickly and new ones occur. For passing moments water and sand, the white museum building and the other artworks in the sculpture park are captured. Perhaps you will also see other visitors in the reflections. One thing is certain: Rather than isolating you from the surrounding world like a trapped animal, the work sets you free to see the sur­roun­dings in a new way. Cage and Mirror shows you how you form your own worldview with your sheer presence and your individual gaze.

Jeppe Hein (b. 1974) lives and works in Berlin and Copenhagen. He graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and The Städelschule in Frankfurt. He has taken part in many solo and group exhibitions. Last year, he was invited to create an immense installation at Cisternerne in Frederiksberg. Jeppe Hein is represented in ARKEN’s collection with nine art pieces. Along with Cage and Mirror, his alternative and humorous bench, Modified Social Bench U, is placed outside on The Art Island.

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