MORTEN STRÆDE: SEVEN SORROWFUL SONGS
Morten Stræde: Seven Sorrowful Songs
9th October 2014 – 11th January 2015
One can almost talk about a kind of infection when Morten Stræde takes over the Glyptotek with seven striking sculpture installations placed around like sudden disruptions in the rich collections of the museum. The Danish sculptor has created an exhibition which does not just momentarily derail the typical museum visit but which simultaneously comments on and challenges the human being’s eternal drive to monitor and dominate its surroundings in the name of Reason.
An art museum is a rational arrangement. Here order is brought into chaos. What is seen as free and uncontrollable art is put into a system; it is collected, registered, analysed and preserved so as to be subsequently subjected to a typical chronological, thematic or monographic presentation. In this respect the Glyptotek is no exception.
Room to manoeuvre
With the exhibition “Seven Sorrowful Songs” Morten Stræde suspends the museal sense of order and injects a certain degree of chaos into the Glyptotek. The seven remarkable installations are divided up as if each is a kind of halt around the museum’s galleries. The exhibition does not trace out any specific route, nor does it offer a classic narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Rather it challenges the museum’s visitors to be surprised by the individual installations, and their interplay with the Glyptotek’s works, whether they are from Ancient Egypt, Classical Antiquity or by painters from the Danish Golden Age.
“Rationality will not save us…”
However Morten Stræde’s enterprise reaches far beyond the confines of the museum space. The superscription for the exhibition is taken from an interview with Robert McNamara, the USA’s Secretary of Defence during the Vietnam War, who, in a brief, backward-looking moment with his guard down, castigates his own cynical and calculating approach to politics. Just like McNamara, Morten Stræde puts a question mark over the purely reason-determined approach to life and the world.
The pivot of the exhibition is the relationship between rationality and chaos. Each of the sculpture installations comes across as a kind of collision: foreign bodies, which at first sight shoot out in surprising directions in relation to the otherwise calm, symmetrical rooms of the museum. But also as regards the sculptures which in themselves contain an ocean of references to the rationalists’ dreams of control and domination of the surrounding world, as well as the shipwreck of such dreams. They could be political symbols, artistic ideologies or iconic media pictures, which criss-cross and, not without humour, comment on the impossible conditions of pure reason in a chaotic world, where chance often has the final word.
About Morten Stræde
Morten Stræde (born 1956) is a prominent figure in the renewal of Danish sculpture. He belongs to a generation of sculptors who broke through in the 1980s and who converted Post-Modernist idioms into sculptural form. Behind his masterful and increasing feeling for the materials’ properties and potential is the ambition to create a sculpture for the times which, at one and the same time, can contain and qualify the age’s accelerating and ephemeral stream of information. In other words a sculpture which frees itself from the immobility of the monument and the statue and offers a new place for reflection and sensuous experience.
Morten Stræde lives and works in Copenhagen. He was trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1978-1985) where, from 1994 to 2003, he has also been a professor. Through the years he has distinguished himself in a long sequence of exhibitions, both in Denmark and abroad as well several decorative programmes for the public space. The awards he has received include the Eckersberg Medal (2000), the Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl Nielsen Legat (2006) and the Thorvaldsen Medal (2010).
On the occasion of the exhibition the Glyptotek is publishing a catalogue with articles contributed by Mikkel Bogh, Courtney J. Martin, Flemming Friborg and Morten Stræde himself.
Morten Stræde: Seven Sorrowful Songs
70 pages, profusely illustrated.
Price 59 DKK Available from the Glyptotek bookshop.
The exhibition is supported by Statens Kunstråd.