Tuesday, September 16, 2008


RAM catalogue, another walk down memory lane.

"RAM" was a group show done in 1995 at Portalen - A community and cultural center in Greve, south of Copenhagen.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were few places for exhibiting young contemporary art in Copenhagen in the early nineties and a lot of art students like myself relied on establishing our own alternative spaces.


RAM was an opportunity...

We - Udstillingsstedet Nørre Farimagsgade 55, were invited to be in the show along with other groups of artistes working at the time: Max Mundus, Superflex, Saga Basement - Plus a number of individual artists, some of them represented by Gallery Nicolai Wallner who was practically the only Copenhagen gallery at that time showing young contemporary artists .

The idea, I believe, was to make a "voice of a generation" type of show, and flipping through the catalogue from RAM you will find quite a few people who ended up defining their generation of Danish artists. So maybe it was a good show to be in at that time.

But, Udstillingsstedet Nørre Farimagsgade 55 were never in it.

It was a long story...but in my opinion some of the more dominant members of our group let their own instabilities take over and decided that something was all wrong...
that the organizers of the show were set against us....that they were going to sabotage our contribution at the very last minute...that the show was not really cool to be in (the group Max Mundus had withdrawn from participating at an early stage, and they enjoyed a great deal of respect at the academy) that we should, at the very least , insist on having a specially marked, separate, section in the exhibition hall...etc, etc, etc, this was wrong...that was wrong...


Since we had agreed to contribute with individual works of art to the show, I went about creating an installation and the others laboured with their projects. There was even some money for materials. Naturally the more extroverted and ambitious members of our group put their hands on that at an nearly point. One guy wanted to make a CD with his music - Ok, there's gotta be room for that. Another, leading member, felt that a pair of ocean-going inflatable life boats was the only way he could express himself - Bought second hand, but still quite expensive.

I received zilch...but since I worked with cheap materials, I reasoned I could manage without funding...and then there was the common good of the group...and...er


We worked and we worked. The day of the opening grew closer, the size of the jitters and the paranoia grew bigger...

What really happened, I don't know. But the idea that the organizers would try to sabotage our contribution to the show grew and grew. Until a point were communication between us and the director of the show collapsed.

Members began to leave the group...to participate in the show as individual artists. Some of the other artists were also getting a bit testy. They were afraid that our quarreling with the management might be closing the whole thing down.

I didn't leave.

I was A REVOLUTIONARY - Raised on the working class ideals of loyalty to the group and the common cause! - I stayed with the group!

A group made up from predominantly upper-middle class kids.
With a strong sense of individuality and personal ambition.

A few days before the opening I found myself in a Taxi, speeding down the southbound motorway and heading for Portalen. With me were two other members of the group, and a video camera. The idea was that we had to film when the directer of Portalen officially threw us out, to use as evidence if they later sued us for breach of contract...

Some leading members of our group, in my opinion largely responsible for the whole melange were not in the Taxi, they traveled in their own car.

When we arrived the directer did come out, ensured us that they would not sue, that we could keep the money we had already spent but that we were officially excluded from the show since he couldn't work with people who distrusted his honesty.

So we went back to Copenhagen. By train since we had no money for a Taxi.
There I was, standing on a crowded train surrounded by commuters, clutching a stylized female figure made from metal wire... part of the installation I had spent months creating and thought I would exhibit at a "breakthrough show"

By all accounts, I was an idiot.

A few days later the female cadre handling economy at Udstillingsstedet Nørre Farimagsgade 55 explained to me that there had been some expenses regarding the transportation of my work and I had to cover that myself.

So I paid.

For not being in the show.

By all accounts, I was an idiot.

Shortly after, a charismatic leading member of the group phoned me.

He had gone underground...hiding out...from "them"...in a cottage by the North Sea coast in Jytland....he needed my help for making a video...(I was always he practical guy around the art scene - A serious mistake...) there would be just the four of us, him, two leading girl cadres and me.

I went there.

Revolution, danger, underground, girls, video, the sea.

Like I said.

By all accounts, an idiot.

Lennard...I got to ask...how does one GET to be that...er.. .naive?...

I don't like the word..."naive"...


I like that better.

That's right...I sometimes wonder myself about what went on in my head back in those days.

Lennard, er...you should...er...you know...this was in 1995...you should get over it...move on...you see?..

Yes, but that's the trouble...when something like this happens your development gets arrested in a way...there's a trauma or something...you get stuck.

Well, one of my teachers at the art academy once said: "...to make it in the art world you have to think and act like a member of the Hell's Angels..."

I suppose he was right.


I never felt like exhibiting the installation I had made but turned it into a video instead, watch it here on YouTube:
Station - 1995

Since the catalogue for RAM had already been printed before we were asked to leave, it included my:

(and a big, if belated, thank you to the designer of the catalogue, Bjarne M. Nielsen, for giving me the center spread)

Retro babe "...now THERE'S a good show!.."
Panzer Panzerjäger I
The Panzerjäger I was the combination of the Pzkpfw I chassis and a Czech 47 mm Anti tank gun - The first "tank hunter".
Annexing Czechoslovakia in 1939 was one of the more brilliant crimes of The Third Reich since It meant the acquisition of loads of modern weapons and arms industries, most notably the Škoda factories.


Hans said...

It's a good posting old chap - interesting, witty and all...

morten said...

hehe, doc.art grahn, I see the framework of a new contemporary encyclopedia. really nice story.