Feature, 13.05.2017

Kirstine Roepstorff – Danish Pavilion
Biennale di Venezia 2017

Images by Anders Sune Berg

Images by Anders Sune Berg

 

 

“Darkness dissolves form and is the void out of which all things arise.
Therefore, unlearning can be a positive force of progress.” – Kirstine Roepstorff

Developed by visual artist Kirstine Roepstorff for the Danish Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia — 57th International Art Exhibition, the project influenza. theatre of glowing darkness challenges viewers to embrace darkness as a positive force of healing, transformation, and empowerment. The exhibition explores the metamorphosis that occurs between the destruction of the known and the embrace of the new. The title influenza contains dual meaning: in Italian it means “to influence,” in English it’s a common viral disease. If flu—as metaphor for the 21st century condition—is spread through social contact, its antidote may also be found in its own logic of person-to-person transmission: each individual’s ability to make affective choices, the grassroots power to influence change. It’s conceived as both symptom and cure. influenza consists of an immersive spatial theatre experience and a structural intervention in the pavilion and surrounding gardens. The large-scale installation uses light projections, glass, sound and a recorded dialogue between three disembodied protagonists: Dark River, Midwife, and Seed, to explore darkness as a condition of reconciliation. Instead of having a curator, the exhibition is structured as a discursive platform to bridge a multitude of perspectives. In this spirit, influenza was developed with the help of a ‘consortium’ of four curators – Sepake Angiama, Ute Meta Bauer, Solvej Helweg Ovesen, Angela Rosenberg – all of whom have previously worked with Roepstorff at pivotal moments in her career. Each member-curator contributed to the project through their reflections, and were invited to respond to Roepstorff’s concept as artists in their own right through different forms of prose published in an accompanying booklet. Over the course of a year, Roepstorff met regularly with the consortium to reflect upon darkness: not only through discussions, but also physical experiences – they’ve swum in the Black Sea, dined at Nocti Vagus (a famous restaurant where the clientele eats in total darkness), and participated in mediation sessions based on the principles of the Essenes, to enter and become one with darkness.