7 Walks (from Albisola to Silkeborg & Læsø)
Part of the research project 7 Walks by Vermeir & Heiremans and Luke Mason
On invitation of f.eks., an artist-run production platform in Aalborg (Denmark), Vermeir & Heiremans and Luke Mason developed 7 Walks (from Albisola to Silkeborg and Læsø). The project consists of presentations, workshops and public discussions at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, as well as a walking event in Silkeborg and a visit to Asger Jorn's house on the island of Læsø.
7 Walks (from Albisola to Silkeborg and Læsø) is the first public instalment of the 7 Walks project. It is informed by the Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914-73), whose ideas about property and art guide the walks in this edition. These ideas, as reflected in his text Value and Economy (1962), triggered discussions on the place of art in society – is art an expense for society, or, like water, a necessity of life? The overarching narrative for this edition of 7 Walks is Jorn's focus on 'the gift'. It links his house in Albisola, his house and studio on Læsø, and a large art collection which he had donated to the historic spa town of Silkeborg.
Casa Jorn in Albisola, Italy
Jorn was critical of functionalist architecture. Loyal to the Situationists’ ideal of ‘unitary urbanism', he proposed an artistic way of working in which all branches of art co-operated in an organic ‘art of unity’. In this spirit of Dionysian play and co-operation he started restoring a ruinous house and garden in Albisola. The Albisola property is central to the idea of the gift in Jorn's life and practice. In his will, Jorn stipulated that after his death the Albisola property would be bestowed to the local community of Albisola Marina. After a long restoration, made possible with local, regional and EU funding, Jorn's house was re-opened to the public in 2014 as Casa Museo Asger Jorn.
A house and studio on Læsø, Denmark
In 1964 Jorn had bought a farmstead on the island of Læsø from a fellow traveller on the train. Through the years a small art community developed on Læsø with, among others, Jorn's dealer Børge Birch. In July 1965, Jorn spontaneously performed a 44 square meter mural in Birch's summer house. Some twenty years later Birch donated the mural to the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, where it is on display, cut up in parts as if it were different paintings.
Today, Jorn's house and studio on Læsø is privately owned by a gallerist and a businessman. They renovated the house extensively. In 2010, one of the owners and the Læsø Municipality founded the Jorn-Læsø Scholarship with the idea to develop the house and adjoining studio as an artist residency. Disagreement over the way in which artists residents can be marketed, caused the project to fail. The house is currently rented out in the summer as an airbnb.
Silkeborg, a historic spa town in Denmark
Silkeborg’s Museum Jorn originated with Jorn's donation of more than 5000 paintings to the town's small museum of history and art. It was Jorn’s gift to Silkeborg, although he also considered it a provocation, since such a huge collection would need care and a place to be presented. The small museum had supported Jorn when he recovered from tuberculosis in 1951 at the Silkeborg Sanatorium nearby. Health cures in Silkeborg were centered around the famous ferruginous water source Arnakkekilden. Drinking ferruginous water was considered a healing and preventive measure against all sorts of ailments. Since 1968 the water of the Arnakkekilden has been exploited by the local Silkeborg brewery Neptun. Today the multinational Carlsberg holds the exclusive right to bottle and distribute the water.
7 Walks explores walking as a methodology, reenacting historical walks to water sources. As a way to physically traverse the property structures that are being discussed, walking allows the examination of apparently fixed ideas. Walking was also relevant to Jorn. As the co-founder of the Situationist International the practice of walking (dérive) aimed to bring about a revolution in daily life. For the situationists the city was the arena where that revolution could take place, precisely by using urban situations against their very intentions, in particular administrative, aesthetic, bourgeois, capitalist, political or pragmatic. For them, walking the city became a most important tool for change. For 7 Walks the natural settings of spa towns are the focus of attention as their natural resources are more and more under pressure of privatisation.
7 Walks (from Albisola to Silkeborg and Læsø) invited Signe Meisner Christensen and Scott William Raby for a walk in the woods around the Arnakkekilden source. Signe Meisner Christensen is a researcher and curator who initiated OPEN, a discursive program in Kunsten Museum in Aalborg which sets out to learn more about how process-driven, collective knowledge production can become an integral part of museum practice. Scott William Raby is an artist and co-founder of f.eks., a roaming exhibition platform for contemporary art that seeks to generate critical and speculative dialogues between audiences, artists, and broader publics.
In collaboration with f.eks. Vermeir & Heiremans and Luke Mason also organised a public walk in Silkeborg. During these walks key concepts that were taken from Jorn' s text Value and Economy – such as equivalence, gift, labor/leisure, value – were discussed and concept maps of theses conversations co-created with the participants. 7 Walks (from Albisola to Silkeborg and Læsø) had a final presentation in Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg as a public lecture-performance.
This project is made at the invitation of f.eks. and in collaboration with Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Kunstpionererne, Gallery Tom Christoffersen, Nordoplyst, Birmingham City University (BCU), Casa Anne Maries vej, and Jubilee.
f.eks. is a roaming exhibition platform for contemporary art that seeks to generate critical and speculative dialogues between audiences, artists, and broader publics. f.eks. produces temporary art events that are located in and around the urban spaces of Aalborg – activating architecture, infrastructure, ecological sites, and public spaces through a series of live art engagements. These include performances, talks, workshops, readings, pop-ups, social installations, screenings, and many other forms of interactive and ephemeral art making. f.eks. is an artist-initiated, non-profit organization that is supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, Den Jyske Kunstfond, North Denmark Region Culture Fund, Aalborg Municipality Culture Fund, UMMK, and Aalborg Municipality Arts Foundation as part of a new two-year program in the waterfront city.
Luke Mason is a philosopher and academic lawyer. Much of his published work focuses on labour law and social policy. His work often focuses on the social function of legal forms and how these can be modified and revisited to achieve more creative uses of legal concepts. He has taught and researched at Universities across Europe, including in the UK, France, Italy and Germany, and is part of numerous international research networks in his fields of interest. He is currently Head of the School of Law at BCU, Birmingham and also teaches law at the Sorbonne Law School and ICP in Paris.
Public moments to date:
From Albisola To Læsø - A Re-enactment of a Historical Walk to Asger Jorn’s House (Læsø, Denmark, February 2020)
The Radical Politics of Jorn - Artistic Reflections on Value, Economy, and Property. Performative lecture at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art (Aalborg, Denmark, February 2020)
Read the introduction on 7 Walks
Read more about A Modest Proposal