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Hito Steyerl: How To Build a Sustainable Art World Ocula Conversation Hito Steyerl: How To Build a Sustainable Art World

'A Picture of War is Not War', we read in Hito Steyerl's iconic film November (2004), an essayistic Super 8 film tackling the definition of terrorism constructed around the figure of the artist's best friend Andrea Wolf, who was killed as a terrorist in 1998 in Eastern Anatolia after she joined the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). Mixing documentary...

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Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future Ocula Report Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future 11 Oct 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Henrik Olesen

b. 1967, Denmark

Working through collage, found-object sculptures, posters, fliers, text and spatial interventions, Danish artist Henrik Olesen predominantly investigates identity, gender politics and the inscription of the homosexual body in history.

Emerging from in-depth research and minimal gestures, Olesen's highly conceptual and multifarious artworks can seem puzzle-like and oblique. His refusal to illustrate clear narratives between objects in his exhibitions means they often resist straightforward interpretation. He moves fluidly between a messy aesthetic of deconstruction—as seen in his 2013 exhibition Hysterical Men at Galerie Buchholz, where the artist deliberately left nail holes and screw plugs in the gallery walls—and 'high-brow' modernism—as seen in his sleek, Judd-like glass sculptures from the series 'As yet untitled' (2018), on view in the 2018 exhibition 6 or 7 new works at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris.

In addition to natural sciences, the distribution of capital and alternative narratives in everyday objects, Olesen most notably considers the (in)visibility of same-sex desire in history. His well-known work Some Faggy Gestures (2007), taking the form of a type of lesson plan, is a set of bulletin board-style collages that charts the poses of male figures throughout the history of Western painting and sculpture. For his 2006–7 exhibition at Projektraum von Yasmine Gauster und Alexander Schröder, Olesen exhibited reproductions of classical paintings of bathing male bodies alongside photographs of Walt Whitman, who never publicly addressed his sexuality but was believed to be gay. Similarly, his 2008 exhibition, How do I make myself a body, at Galerie Buccholz, is drawn from the life of British mathematician Alan Turing—considered the father of modern computer science—whose sexual orientation was considered a national security risk in the early years of the Cold War and was forced by his government to undergo synthetic hormone treatment to 'treat' his sexuality.

In his first US solo museum show, Projects 94, at The Museum of Modern Art in 2011, Olesen explored the historical criminalisation of homosexuality through a series of digital prints, found objects and texts. One project in the show, titled Pre-Post: Speaking Backwards, took the form of a free newspaper that compiled collected stories of 'sodomy laws', examining the legal codes, power structures, and social and political normalisation that have oppressed homosexuality. The paper also celebrated artists whom Olesen considers 'revolutionaries' for championing gay creativity. Indeed, Olesen is known for such co-opting of mainstream print systems in his work; for Manipulating Media (2002), he inserted stories of homosexual sub-cultures into the right-wing Daily Mail and the Daily Express, while for Anthology of Sublime Love (2003), he spliced images of sadomasochistic gay sex into Max Ernst's 'collage-novel' The Woman with 100 Heads (1929).

In 2011, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel presented an extensive survey of Henrik Olesen's artworks made over the past 15 years, showing the artist's wide diversity of materials and strategies. The exhibition included minimal sculptures (Portrait of My Father Sleeping [After Matt Mullican] [2010]), crudely wrapped found objects (Apple [Ghost] [1] [2008]) and three-dimensional collages of mechanical objects (I do not go to work today. I don't think I go tomorrow [2010]). For the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Olesen created a commissioned series of deconstructed representations of hell, ranging from Dante's The Divine Comedy to more contemporary ideas of darkness and the underworld.

Other solo exhibitions were held at The Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Museum Ludwig, Cologne (Wolfgang Hahn Prize); The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; Portikus, Frankfurt/Main (with Judith Hopf); Secession, Vienna; and the Sprengel Museum Hannover. He has participated in international exhibitions at important institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; SMK National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (as curator with Daniel Buchholz and Christopher Müller); Pinault Foundation, Venice; Carré d'Art, Nîmes; New Museum, New York; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, among others, and has been invited to the Istanbul Biennial, Manifesta, Venice Biennale, Gwangju Biennale and Berlin Biennale. In 2019, the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, will host a survey exhibition of his work. Olesen currently lives and works in Berlin.

Biography by Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Epoxy resin
23 x 7 x 7 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Epoxy resin
23 x 7 x 7 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Referring to: The Master-Slave-Dialectic II by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenReferring to: The Master-Slave-Dialectic II, 2019 Plexiglas, glue
160 x 152 x 31 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Epoxy resin
Galerie Buchholz
Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Epoxy resin
23 x 7 x 7 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Epoxy resin
23 x 7 x 7 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Untitled by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenUntitled, 2019 Silkscreen on wood, acrylic, lacquer, prints on paper
31.5 x 38 x 32.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz
Some illustrations to the life of Alan Turing by Henrik Olesen contemporary artwork
Henrik OlesenSome illustrations to the life of Alan Turing, 2019 Inkjet print on paper
141 x 99.5 cm
Galerie Buchholz

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Henrik Olesen, Henrik Olesen at Galerie Buchholz, New York
Closed
2 May–28 June 2019 Henrik Olesen Henrik Olesen Galerie Buchholz, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Hölle at Galerie Buchholz, New York
Closed
20 September–27 October 2018 Group Exhibition Hölle Galerie Buchholz, New York

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