Mie Mørkeberg: »U.t.« 2009 Acrylic and Indian ink on paper Photo: Privateje Courtesy Galleri Tom Christoffersen


From 4 September to 21 November 2010 – Kunsthal Charlottenborg

The exhibition Make Yourself at Home features ten artists and artists’ groups from around
the world, all of whom present works that address the notion of hospitality. The contemporary
world is characterised by the constant movement and displacement of people, but also by
the increased unwillingness of countries to welcome migrants. Make Yourself at Home looks
at how artists interpret the concepts of home and hospitality in a globalised world, and
includes works – many made especially for the occasion – that explore issues of hospitality
at the individual, institutional or national level, and which touch on themes of human
migration, colonial heritage and international conflict.
Denmark has always prided itself on its ideal of ‘hygge’ (‘cosy living’), but it also reflects the
changes in international relations in the wake of 9/11, which have undermined the perception
of the safety of the home, and have made countries less open to receive foreign guests. The
ambiguity and unease that can underlie the ideals of home and hospitality have long been
analysed by thinkers, and Derrida describes the expression ‘make yourself at home’ as a
self-limiting invitation: please feel at home, but remember that this is not your place and that
you should respect my rules. The complex and sometimes double-edged nature of hospitality
informs all of the works in Make Yourself at Home.

One of the most common gestures of hospitality is the act of sharing food with others, and
this is evoked in Endless Döner, a work by Danish artists’ group A Kassen. The piece is
situated in Runddelens Kebab, one of the many kebab shops that can be found in the
Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, and consists of a kebab loaf in the shape of Endless
Column, the celebrated Brancusi sculpture. The piece was inspired by Brancusi’s own
sources – Romanian folk art – and returns the modernist artist’s work to its popular roots. A
Kassen are also represented by a new piece which intervenes into the architecture of
Kunsthal Charlottenborg: the artists have removed some of the glass panels which normally
screen the attic from the galleries, thereby allowing the visitor to see parts of the house that
are normally hidden.
The Belgian artist Philip Aguirre y Otegui has always had an interest in migration. The artist
was born of a father who fled the Franco regime, and has himself travelled extensively in
Latin America and Africa. One of his works at Kunsthal Charlottenborg is Cambiamos el
Mundo (‘Let’s change the world’), a wall painting which shows a dinner party in full swing,
and which is both an homage to hospitality and a satire on evenings spent changing the
world over a bottle of wine. The artist is also represented by a number of sculptural pieces,
including three different works depicting life-size figures carrying a mattress, water jugs and
plates respectively. These works suggest the artist’s interest in basic human needs, as well
as in the mechanics of displacement and dislocation.
The piece Untitled (Ghardaia), by the French-Algerian artist Kadia Attia, is an installation of
couscous moulded into the shape of a city. The architecture is reminiscent of a traditional
building type found in the Mzab valley in the Algerian desert, a style which had a major
influence on Le Corbusier, who visited the region in the 1930s and who was inspired by its
airy and hospitable buildings. The Swiss architect’s theories of social housing went on to
inform buildings around the world, including schemes built by the French in Algeria in the
years before independence. Attia’s reconstruction of this architecture using the North African
staple of couscous – a highly unstable material – is a subtle gesture of reappropriation.

The Danish artist Kenneth A. Balfelt creates what he calls ‘functional art’, works in which art
is used to develop new situations in society, and which have often involved people at the
social margins including the homeless and drug addicts. For this exhibition Balfelt has
worked on facilities for socially vulnerable people in Enghave plads, a square in the
Vesterbro district of Copenhagen. In collaboration with the ‘beer drinkers’ in the square – and
with the help of local organisations – he is creating a space which the former can share with
so-called ‘normal’ people. The work is an ongoing investigation, and will result in a public
space equipped with furniture and facilities that can be used 24/7.

Another approach to hospitality is visible in the video Home 2, in which the Swiss artist Olaf
Breuning
depicts the world tour of a traveller from the West, taking in Japan, Papua New
Guinea and Ghana. The traveller makes absurd efforts to become the ‘other’ that he meets,
in a satire on the western romantic look at non-western societies. Breuning is also
represented in the exhibition by sculptural works, including The Humans, a group of six large
figurative sculptures in marble and bronze that are displayed in the courtyard, and which
represent a satirical account of evolution and primitive life. Breuning often uses a playful
perspective to portray his subjects, yet behind it lies a web of social analysis and multiple
narratives.
In the paintings of Danish artist Mie Mørkeberg the domestic sphere becomes a stage for
uncanny psychological experiences. Home is staged as a Biedermeier set, and evokes
feeling of uncertainty or fear. The starting-point for the new wall painting that the artist has
made at Kunsthal Charlottenborg is an ordinary living room with old-fashioned furniture and
bric-a-brac, but one which contains traces of other worlds. Any place acquires an identity
through performative actions, and in the case of Mørkeberg the imperative to escape
becomes the beginning of something new.
Notions of hospitality are usually associated with people, while material objects are left out,
but the Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga has a sharp focus on the materiality of life. The
Taste of a Stone, which Nkanga has made for the exhibition, is a work in a number of
chapters. The first chapter centres on a curious stone, and operates as an introduction, while
also suggesting the particular hospitality of places of worship.
The other chapters arerepresented in five short videos which tell different stories connected with the stone: stories
of love, rejection, fear, submission and dependence. These videos are presented on
monitors scattered within an architectural installation made from wood, glass and marble, a
structure which functions like a brain – a container of memories.

Nigerian photographer George Osodi was invited to stay with three different families in
Denmark, who opened their doors as part of the hospitality network New Life Copenhagen.
The latter was created by the art collective Wooloo to host activists during the UN Climate
Summit in Copenhagen in 2009, and is now an ongoing project. During his stay Osodi made
a photo essay documenting the life of the families that housed him, a work that is realised as
three slide projections. It is still in question whether the artist himself will be allowed to enter

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