Hesselholdt & Mejlvang FB69 Galerie Münster

We live in dark times and our work is fundamentally an engagement with this condition and its complex mix of politics and aesthetics. On the one hand, it expresses our discontent with the situation by exposing what we perceive to be significant dangers and evils of contemporary culture, from war and xenophobia to ignorance and fear. On the other hand, our work is the creation of images and objects that function as the means to articulate an expanded understanding and advanced critique of these malignant forces.

Our focus is the familiar and intimate context of everyday life in 21st century Western society where the mythologies of welfare state security and consumer freedom are the grand narratives. Contrary to the common perception that this context represents the epitome of cultural progress – the overcoming of problems and the achievement of stability – from our point of view it is exactly in this context that the darkness is looming large. Like a virus, it spreads extensively and infects our mindset and behaviours. The effects in themselves are violent but what is equally disturbing is that the darkness has become such an integral part of our habitual settings that we hardly notice it, let alone react to it. This “normalised darkness” and its many guises of innocence are thus primary concerns for us.

Our method in this respect is one of reconfiguring signs and objects in ways that distort their established meanings either by ridicule, exaggeration or aggression. Applying montage and appropriation techniques in terms of both imagery, material and craft, the reconfigurations – often involving elements from two or more very different realms – are cultural bastards characterised by a great degree of ambiguity and unease that irritates existing consensus, whether it is the good taste associated with classic design objects or the cosy tradition related to hoisting the Danish flag.
Irony is essential to this method. It is however not an irony of detachment but one that engages seriously with its subjects through a certain wicked and indecent subversive humour that questions the contemporary darkness as the latest chapter in the ever more tainted history of the integration of politics and aesthetics.

To pursue such questioning beyond notions of both political and aesthetic correctness to the point where the darkness not only becomes visible but falls apart is the guiding principle of our art.

(Sofie Hesselholdt & Vibeke Mejlvang)




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