Day Thirty – São Paulo

The exhibition that has been so alive and pulsing with everyday-changing artworks is today being wrapped, packed and put in boxes. The packing made me think about what is the lifetime of an exhibition.

The beginning of the exhibition period is usually marked with a vernissage. The word vernissage comes from varnish, which is the liquid used to apply on paintings when the artwork is done and before the exhibition. Often in the openings of painting exhibitions, there would be a strong smell of varnish because the artist would in most cases just have finished the paintings. The smell of varnish is thus connected to the freshness of the painting. The artworks are still wet like newborns when the exhibition opens. Vernissage is like a birth of the exhibition.

The life of the exhibition is the exhibition period. The duration time of an exhibition is decided mostly based on practical conditions in the exhibition venue, the public interest and logistics. Typically the time would be constructed around the established opening hour. Sometimes this daily rhythm of the exhibition can be interrupted by an artist talk or a presentation.
In the case of Thierry’s exhibition at Galeria Emma Thomas, we had daily changing artworks that would give a new life to the exhibition. The exhibition would be re-born every day. It gave the exhibition a chance to change along the way, adapting and adjusting its size, content and look to the reality of each single day. The exhibition period was divided into three parts: first part was a period where Thierry was changing the exhibition every day, exhibiting artworks produced instantly and expressing about important issues of the present, the second part was designed to include artists from Sao Paulo in the exhibition so they too can express about what they consider emergencies and the third part was a static exhibition put on display and presented to the collectors to purchase.

Today is the death of the exhibition. What does it mean? The artworks that were produced and exhibited in an ultracontemporary way are just going to die or do they have an afterlife? Yes, there is an afterlife. Some of the artworks will end up in the Delay Museum- a collection of artworks that have once been produced in an ultracontemporary way. Today the Delay Museum includes more than 900 artworks from around 300 artists.
Furthermore, I’m making a small publication with images from the exhibition in which I also plan to create a link between what was produced in Brazil and historical artworks from Thierry’s previous productions. The publication will make it possible to present the artworks, in many different contexts and maybe open doors for new exhibitions.
It makes sense to compare the exhibition to a lifetime, I think. Maybe it would be interesting to think about what the ideal lifetime of an exhibition should be, every time a new exhibition is curated.

Bellow is one of the last images of Thierry’s exhibition installation on the first floor.




Day Twenty – Nine – Rio de Janeiro

Today Thierry made a new artwork with a tent. It was placed on the beach early in the morning. Around 7 am.

The text on the tent was saying “L’oeuvre c’est la capacite de synthèse” (The body of work is the capacity for synthesis)


I liked the slogan, but to be clearer about the message I asked Thierry if the sentence on the tent was stating that “l’oeuvre” (the artwork or an artist’s body of work) is:

  • to have the capacity to do a synthesis
  • the capacity to do a synthesis
  • the synthesis

He could not choose any of the options just like that, but he said that it is mostly about being able to.

This being able to, made me link to the notion of potentiality and I remembered a text I did for my theses in 2008 that was dealing with potentiality and contingency seen from the linguistic, anthropological and philosophic point of view.

Potentiality is a very complex philosophical concept, which is often said to be introduced by Aristotle, particularly in his reflections on the dynamis which stands for the power of possibility or potentiality. Already in Aristotle’s time, there was a clear distinction between the potentiality, as we know it from a child’s unused potentiality and the developed form of existing potentiality. A child’s ability to do something is a general and absolute potentiality, but it is only when the child has learned, for example, writing that it has the ability to do it. The ordered potentiality is the ability to choose between realizing the potentiality or not realizing it. So there is a big difference in saying: “He can write” about a child that we believe possibly will be able to write once it learns it, and when we say the same thing about a man, who already knows the alphabet and, therefore, may choose to write or, more importantly, choose not to write.

It is the ability to choose not to, which separates these two types of potentialities. Aristotle concentrates most of the existing potentiality since it is the one that holds potentiality´s true complexity of co-existence of the possibility of realization and the possibility of non-realization. So it is only in the existing potentiality and the act of choosing between actualization or non-actualization that force of potentiality is realized.

Potentiality connects immediately with the verb can ( to be able to ) that both refers to a force (potent) and an opportunity (potentia). Potentiality is thus a condition that occurs between an opportunity and an actualization.

If we look at artistic praxis, we can find potentiality in the moment before the artist takes an action. When an artist decides to do the artwork, there is always a possibility of not doing it. An artist has to have some kind of driving energy in order to make a good artwork. Maybe there is not a logic argumentation for it, but there is most probably an instinctive feeling of importance. Why is it important to express?, In which form?, In which place? and Why now? are some of the questions that are being activated every time a new artwork is born. This artistic act is, of course, connected to the motivation and with necessity. The act can also be called artistic gesture. I think that Thierry, in his artwork “L’oeuvre c’est la capacite de synthèse” wants to communicate something about the potentiality and power in the artistic gesture; An artist’s capacity to act.


Day Twenty – Eight – Rio de Janeiro

At 5.30pm, I went to the beach. There was more activity than normally. I guess because it was Friday and it was the begging of the Carnaval.

There were two types of activities and two types of people at the beach. Those who were at the beach to enjoy and those who were working. Some were jogging, playing with all kind of balls doing water sports or fighting with the waves. Others, on the other hand, were carrying products to sell, shouting to announce and trying to get attention. Everybody doing business on the beach was hardworking, and there seemed to be a good commercial chain going on. The men renting chairs and parasols were busy and they were connected to the people running the small mobile bars. Ones sitting in the comfortable chairs under parasols, with drinks in their hands, people become easy customers for the numerous vendors who walked fast up and down the beach. In the end, of the chain, there were the people collecting cans. Bech was a real market place.

Everybody doing business on the beach was hardworking, and there seemed to be a good commercial chain going on. The men renting chairs and parasols were busy and they were connected to the people running the small mobile bars. Ones sitting in the comfortable chairs under parasols, with drinks in their hands, people become easy customers for the numerous vendors who walked fast up and down the beach. In the end, of the chain, there were the people collecting cans.

When the sun was going down, we walked away from the beach and walked into a small part of Carnaval. Here people were singing and walking slowly together with the rhythm and in the direction if music. I saw many people dressed in costumes of very different styles: butterflies, flowers, cats, rabbits, nurses, police officers, brides, pirates, etc. Those who were not wearing a costume had a small flower garland on their heads or colorful decorations around their necks. There was a lot of glitter and gold powder in the air.

Everybody looked happy. They did not look worried or anxious about the situation the country was in or its future. They seemed like different people than those who were telling us: We have so many problems in this country. It is a very bad moment in Brazil now. Or maybe the carnival was their way to forget about the future and be in the now.

For some years ago my friends Nina and Ida did an interesting project in Rio, asking people on the streets about their visions of the future.










Day Twenty – Seven – Rio de Janeiro

Today I saw Daniela, a friend I met in 2008 in Denmark in connection with a realization of Penetrável Filtro by Hélio Oiticica during U-Turn Quadrennial for Contemporary Art. It was Judith Schwarzbart,  one of the three directors of the Biennial, that insisted on bringing the work to Danmark and I was doing the production.

Daniela came on behalf of Centro Cultural Municipal Hélio Oticica as a supervisor to make sure the realization of the work was done in accordance with the original instruction drawing by Oiticica.

I always found it fascinating how Oticica was thinking his artworks as participatory interventions that could change the culture and that could be repeated whenever circumstances demanded it. Every time adapted to a new place and time.

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For example, Oiticica’s Parangolés was a participatory mobile sculpture based on fabric and clothes for dancing. The work was about an embodiment of colors, and its primary intention was to introduce color into the environment. Parangolés also stimulated the idea of collective body and aesthetic protest. It was an attempt to connect art with the social participation were a spectator becomes a participator. Parangolés could take place on different occasions, cities and countries.

When worn, these colorful mobile textile sculptures can create a situation, an interruption of the usual course of things. Oiticica calls it an “object-event,” a “meetings-event,” and an “amoment”: “amoment breastfeed the moment.”

There are some instructions that have to be followed in order to activate Parangolés and other artwork by Oiticica like bólides.

The images above made a connection between Oiticica’s notes/instructions and “art formats” Thierry works with. In Thierry’s manifesto from 1989, he explaines five types of moving exhibitions (Manifeste – Les differents Types de moving Exhibitions)

Bellow are archive images from different early moving exhibitions including both images and text attached on people. Sometimes the exhibitions are done in the public space, other times it is an unexpected appearance in an organized event like an exhibition or an art fair where the artist is not invited. It can also be an exhibition organized by the artist, but where everybody attending has to share some statements or images in order to take part. No voyeur. All spectators become participants.

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Day Twenty – Six – Rio de Janeiro

Today I was trying to write a text on time.

It was difficult to start, so I looked back on a project about time that Thierry and I organized in the clocktower of Copenhagen City Hall during last December. It was including an awareness muscle training for people of different professions and an art exhibition by Thierry. The goal of the project was to create a debate about important issues of today with critical artworks by Thierry and a debate with the citizens of Copenhagen.

We use the tower as a platform not only because it is a beautiful high spot in the city landscape, but also because it is poetically connected to the notion of time. A clocktower  is a place where a particular moment of anachronism can happen. Being on the top of the tower allowed us for a moment to step away from the everyday life and see it from above. The “stepping away” brings us momentary out of jointness with the present, which is very important, because to adhere to the now and at the same time to keep a distance to it, might be the key method for grasping it. The now is a timeframe where syntheses between past, future and presence can happen.

Then I started reflecting on doubleness of a clock.

The clock is a metaphor of precision, efficiency, and productivity. In that sense it is connected to the modern society and working discipline; To be in time for work or to register in time at a factory like Charlie Chaplin in The Modern Time where a human body is fighting against the machine of capitalism or like a mistreated worker in Metropolis by Fritz Lang.

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I was wondering if there is any beauty in efficiency and precision. Can a clock be else than a mechanism for regulation of time with punctuality often designed to put life in a regiment context of productivity?

The clock is also a tool for synchronizing time for meeting each other; being present at the same time and place. When we talk about the power of masses, the success is always based on being together and sharing the same moment, passion and vision.



Sharing time can be a magic or spiritual experience. In most of the spiritual ceremonies the first and maybe the most important thing is to define a place and time for the encounter; The encounter between the people who are joining the ceremony as well as the encounter between the earthly and the spiritual.

The clock helps us make certain timeframes, which then can be repeated daily, monthly or annually. Depending on our approach, the repetition can be interpreted as a routine but can also be seen as a ritual. If we consider the time structure to be an inner guideline, then we feel part of a ritual, if we, on the other hand, see the time structure as forced rules from outside, then our actions become tasks and routine.

So the question is if the time structure can give us freedom? Freedom to think, freedom to be unpredictable and freedom to be at in the right place at the right time. It is about timing. And unlike the mechanic logic of the clock that is based on calculations, timing has to do with intuition and magic.




Day Twenty – Five – Rio de Janeiro

I’m in Rio, but my thoughts today are in Denmark, where a new law has passed, designed to make it very difficult, if not impossible, to be a refugee in the country.

The new law is approving seizing values from refugees. What does it really mean? I came to Denmark as a refugee with my parents and my brother for 22 years ago because of the war in Ex. Yugoslavia. The map bellow shows with the red line the route we took. A more direct way was not possible because countries like Germany have at that point closed their borders for Bosnian refugees.



A map my parents brought along from my home country and that they draw a red line on illustrating our refugee route to Danmark. The map has always been hanging on the wall in our home. First years it was hanging in the refugee camp rooms, later in different rented apartments and today in the house of my parents in Viborg. I guess for my parents, my brother and me, the map has become a symbol and a reminder of the trip that changed the course of our family history. Today my brother’s and my kids sleep in the room where the map is hanging, when they visit their grandparents.

I was trying to imagine what the police would have been able to take away from my family if the law being passed now, was existing back then when I came to Danmark. What did we actually bring when we first came? We did not have much when we crossed the border. The money we had was used on getting to Denmark. We did not have any expensive jewelry either. The only value I can think of, but which does not have a material value for others than my family, is the private photo album. Photos from my brother’s and my childhood, our happy family life moments before the war, places we went to visit on vacations and people we were used to be surrounded with.

This was the real value for my family and me. It was what we shared and carried on in our memories about the place we were coming from. It also carried hope about being able to construct something similar in the new place we were coming to.

I came to think about a project Thierry did in 1999 called “Territorial Landscape.” It was an art project aiming to actualize archives and re-contextualize images from private photo albums belonging to immigrants from different cultural backgrounds living in Denmark. Thierry would put immigrants’ personal photos, from the time, when they were living in their home country, next to newer photos of the same immigrants, now living in Denmark. The immigrant and the artist chose the photos together and the artist then decided the conceptual and the visual format: which was four pictures put together in a cross line. In each layout included two pictures from the past and two from the present.

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Showing images from before and after a person starts a new life in Denmark next to each other opens up for some interesting comparative observations and discoveries about the life the immigrants had before they became immigrants. The diversity in the motives underlines that immigrants are not one homogeny group of our society, but individuals with very diverse cultural backgrounds. Pictures become small windows to different cultural universes. The combination of images also visualizes traces of hopes, dreams and expectations immigrants have when they leave their previous lives behind and start following an idea of a new reality in Denmark.

Most of the immigrants had brought very few pictures with them from their home country, often without negatives, made each of the photos a very precious and valuable object. The participating immigrants gave away photos from their albums as a gift to the artist. There was a certain closeness in the meeting between the artist and the participants. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Thierry himself is an immigrant in Denmark and has a different dialog with the participants than a Danish-born person might have. There might be a moment of recognition that created an intimacy between the artists and the subject matter that we very seldom see in common analytic research methods. Entering the private sphere of the group of people one wants to investigate means a willingness from the artist/investigator to become close, create an honest exchange and even friendship.


My family history is connected to many other foreigners’ histories, and we are an important part of the Danish history. The Danish cultural heritage is something I feel I’m contributing to by living and working in the country. Foreigners are actively and with vigor keeping Denmark in shape. So why does the way to speak about refugees in Denmark today, sound like speaking about a disease? As if it was something we have to eliminate as efficiently and fast as possible. It is of course not acceptable and wrong, and I don’t agree with it. I think people moving from one place to another in search for safe life, should be an organic circulation in our common world that should be our shared territory. As in any other context, circulation should be connected to energy and life. It should not be stopped but used to move forward the stream and create vital development for everybody.

But why does Denmark want to promote itself as a closed country? I don’t find any rational answer or explanation to this question. I could imagine that the unfriendly attitude and laws will make refugees avoid Denmark. It might momentarily stop refugees from coming, but the refugees and foreigners are not going to disappear. On the contrary, we will probably see more and more refugees in the future running away from not only the wars but also from other catastrophes provoked by pollution and climate change. The refugees are the result of the way we run our world. Business negotiation, global political decisions, wars, commercial interests, etc. are all part of the same power and money game. We cannot be part of something without facing its consequences.




Day Twenty – Four – Rio de Janeiro

When I waked up this morning, I could see a big rock through the apartment window. I’m in Rio de Janeiro. I could see that the rock was part of the mountain. I’m living at the foot of the mountain. It gives a feeling of being safe. The mountain is like a giant protective body; An accumulation of energy. Being so close to the mountain, being able to touch its rocky surface and smell its green vegetation, really makes me think of it as a being; a living thing with a soul.

Mountains make us feel small and part of something bigger. It is a magic feeling of being in the world and the feeling of nature being projected within one’s own mind and body.

Then there is the shape of a mountain: A triangle, or almost a triangle. The shape is so basic and fundamental that we don’t even think about it.It is simply the way it should be. The shape “fits” so well to the rest of the surrounding nature (the see the sky) and even to the city where buildings and streets are adapted to the presence of the mountain. When I watched people watching the sunset on one of the big rocks between Copacabana and Ipanema beach, I couldn’t help thinking that the people’s silhouettes on the left looked very similar to the silhouettes of the mountains on the horizon.


While I was sitting and watching the sunset, I could also feel the heat from the rock platform. At that moment, the rock even felt soft and its surface reminded me of skin. I was still thinking about the connection between the human body and the mountain. An artwork by Zhang Huan came to my mind. “To add 1 meter to an unknown mountain”.


Suddenly I could see human mountains all over. Even the beach vendors looked like small mountains. There were walking up and down selling different kinds of beach clothing and accessories. Their mobile “boutiques” were attached to their bodies with creative belts and carrying tools. When they walk, they look like moving human mountains. I tried to draw them:


My best friend and artist Nina Wengel wrote about these and other mountains. She also painted them. She always approaches mountains as human beings. When she was in Rio for some years ago, I got a text from her. It was a fictive poetic text that I came to think about, today when waking up under the mountains.


I was no different from other people.

I liked things. I liked buying things.

When I was feeling very down, what made me happy again,

was buying a pair of shoes.

Once I got very bad news, I had to buy two pairs,

but then the mood did change.

Even though had been going through a lot of pain, fear, suffering and so on,

like every other normal person does,

and even though I had been trying to detach myself more and more, from my body, from the physical world, not trusting it anymore,

I was just as, if not more, materialistic than ever.


I understood, that this is not the way,

A human being should really be,

Being normal relieved me though.


And so, it was working out all right for a while for me for a while.


Until that morning I woke up and couldn’t move.

During the night, without me noticing,

All my things had sneaked up on me,

In a pile on the size of a minor Danish mountain,

(Which is not big, but huge from the perspective

of someone lying under it), leaving only my head free,

For me to have a nice look of all of these things.


Tank tops, flowerpots, clips and clamps, bicycle pumps (three of those),

Brushes and pencils, carpets, boxes of stuff, I had no idea what contained – they might had been hiding in the ceiling, children’s drawings – that had come all the way form my parents house!

I had become, during the night, a magnet of all stuff that I’d kept.


I didn’t die there. I was a bit brushed though, after they moved the stuff.

My parents came to check on me. My mum, always practical, asking me whether we should not use the opportunity, having all the stuff in a pile right there,

To through away some of it, to “clear out the clutter”, as she put it.


This harmed me, and the harm surprised me.

Couse why would it?

And then I realized, that something had changed.

The stuff had become a part of me, during that night,

We had become a mountain,

And though the mountain was moved, I was still very much a part of it,

Oh yes, you would say, but of course, old children’s drawings,

Who wouldn’t fell attached to them? We’re all sentimental!

NO, I say, no! Not like that. I’m speaking of old flowerpots.

Flowerpots, that I hardly new existed, that no one would care for,

Empty plastic bottles of the kind that are not even with a bottle deposit,

And which I hadn’t bought on some love travel to France or anything like that,

No sentimental strings attached, no economic interest, nothing, zip, zero

of any rational reason, that I could think of, would attach me to these objects, that I was so harmed, my mum was kindly offering me to help me get rid of. That’s what I am trying to make clear. No rational reason what so ever, besides this, that these things had become a part of me, like an arm or a leg, and, the to me unknown flowerpot, some sort of important gland, that I never even knew existed. Which is not a rational reason, I guess. But I don’t think I need to explain, that you do not through away your arm in order “to clear out the clutter”.

And where did this leave me? See, this is how we come around. Cause since then, I hardly if ever buy anything, a least not before I twisting and turning it to decide, whether this object is good enough to become my tenth arm.





Day Twenty – Three – Sao Paulo – Rio de Janeiro

In the bus on the way to Rio de Janeiro, we were looking at all the images of artworks that Thierry produced during our stay in Sao Paulo. We started groping the artwork in different segments or conceptual lines.

One of the conceptual lines was very interesting and connected to the painting.

Thierry is not a painter but in some of his exhibited artworks, he questions the paint and the painting.

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TOO LATE 14/1 2016 90 x 70 cm red paint on white canvas


Too late, refers to painting and contemporary art is in delay. It also alludes the fact that it might be too late to use art to change the development of problems in the world for better. Even emergency art can be insufficient at the moment because the things have gone so bad in many fields.



The Roy Lichenstein inspired painting is also making a comment on the unused potential in the art to communicate information or opinions. In his paintings, Lichenstein even had speech bubbles where a textual message could be delivered. But in his work the speech bubble become a negation of their own function because they are used for wordless communication like sounds (boom, wham, pow, etc.) or copied phrases and fragments from superficial and flat messages that don’t transmit much of a statement. What Thierry does is to fill up the potential space of Lichtenstein’s speech bubble in order to use it for communication and passing on the information about important issues such as the inequality between the richest and poorest people in the world.


CONTEMPORARY ART STILL LIKES TO QUESTION THE CANVAS 18/1 2016 90 x 60 x 95 cm handicap toilet chair with one missing wheel on a white canvas


The chair refers to the canvas. The white empty canvas t o the unused potential of the contemporary art. The chair is not able to move because it is missing one while. The immobility of the chair, of the contemporary, might be what Thierry wants to put in contrast to his moving and changing exhibition formats and the ultracontemporary spirit. Thierry’s manifest about mobile exhibitions was published in 1989, and he has been developing a great number of art formats based on mobility and speed in art expression.


CAN PAINT BE A PREVENTION OF DENGUE 18/1 2016 color paper print, dray paint and plastic roller tray


With the same mission to express about unusefulness versus usefulness of the art, and with an element of humor Thierry creates a work with paint in plastic roller tray which could function as a system for catching dangerous Zika mosquitoes. If artists could make art that can kill mosquitos, then the role of the artist in society would be relevant. Questioning the role of the artist and defining the artistic impact is crucial and very present in many of Thierry’s works.

When we finished looking at the photos of the artworks I started reading a book by Octavio Paz, where he explains and contextualizes Marcel Duchamp’s artistic praxis.

I connected Thierry’s above-mentioned artworks with an interesting part of the book about Duchamp’s connection to painting.

“Right from the start Duchamp set up a vertigo of delay in the opposition to the vertigo of acceleration”..” Duchamp abandoned painting in the proper sense of the term when he was hardly twenty-five years old. To be sure, he went on “painting” for another ten years, but everything he did from 1913 onward is a part of his attempt to substitute “painting-idea” for “painting-painting”. This negation of the painting, which he calls “olfactory” (because of its smell of turpentine) and “retinal” (purely visual), was the beginning of his true work.”..” Duchamp was a painter of ideas.”

Maybe Thierry is a painter of ideas too. Or a painter of time as Octavio Paz explains Pablo Picasso’s work: “He paints out of urgency and, above all, it is urgency that he paints: he is the painter of time.