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Being and Origin – A Presentation of Pia Arke’s Exhuming Gesture

Pia Arke, Untitled (Put your kamik on your head, so everyone can see where you come from), 1993, black-and-white contact sheet, 20 × 15cm. Photograph: Peter Baastrup. Courtesy Søren Arke Petersen and the Estate of Pia Arke, Copenhagen
Carsten Juhl engages the philosophical significance of Pia Arke’s research processes and conditions of display. Perhaps the time has come when we can deal with Pia Arke’s work in a more transversal way than was the case after her death ten years ago. At that time, there was significant archaeological work to do to prepare for the curatorial interpretations made by Tone Olaf Nielsen and Frederikke Hansen of Kuratorisk Aktion, later joined by Mirjam Joensen. Kuratorisk Aktion, an all-female independent curatorial collective dedicated to radical curatorship and critical action, has played a crucial role in investigating Arke’s work. To some, their approach appears as an offensive challenge to art and culture. This became clear during a recent meeting in June 2017 in Copenhagen at the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark), to which the director, Mikkel Bogh, had invited his British counterpart at Tate Modern, Frances Morris. At one point the discussion was focussed on the integration of dissident artists into the mainstream through curatorial efforts on the part of art institutions in the West, a ‘poetical/political’ strategy introduced by Catherine David at documenta X, in 1997, and followed up on by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta11, in 2002.  

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