Venice Biennale 2017 // The Danish Pavilion: An Interview with Kirstine Roepstorff

Article by Claudia Grigg Edo in Berlin // Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

The Venice Biennale 2017 series offers previews of curatorial and artistic projects presented in the context of this year’s biennial art event.

Kirstine Roepstorff is a visual artist based in Fredericia, Denmark. She studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1994 to 2001. Her practice has moved between collage and sculpture, the latter primarily made of concrete and brass. She interrogates the nature and function of form, which she views as material but also as subject to abstraction: as a holder of content that also transmits its own information. She has emphasised the “space in-between” forms in her work as signifying potential and uncertainty. Her work has been interpreted as politically-charged, her collages appropriating and re-arranging the visual media representations that bombard us all on a daily basis. Roepstorff will represent Denmark at the Venice Biennale this year.

Claudia Grigg Edo: You have steadily moved towards sculptural work, alongside collage. Do you feel that the two media overlap significantly?

Kirstine Roepstorff: Both methods are activating the “space in-between”.

Initially, I started out making sculpture. After a while, I decided that the media itself had too much resistance as a starter media. I was an art student, and I was poor. The sculpture processes were often too heavy, too pricy, too difficult to store and too hard to get rid of again. Very pragmatically, working with sculpture, there were a lot of efforts stored in the failures. Failures are what you learn from, so in a learning process it must be easy to fail, to accept and eventually to move on. So I found myself a medium that was more swift and failure-friendly. And that was collage.

CGE: You have some hard-hitting collages that seethe with social commentary, like ‘Hidden Truth’ (2002). How important is politics to your practice?

KR: I don’t intend to make my work political, deliberately. I engage in it as an art of poetry propelled by my surroundings. The political readings that occur are projections and interpretations. This is an uncontrolled part of the process and that is as it should be. It’s all fine.

CGE: In what way (if any) do you feel your art ‘represents’ Denmark?

KR: I represent Denmark as an artist. My art represents my curiosity.

CGE: Is there a duty for a Biennale artist to be more accessible, or challenging, or unexpected, than usual?

KR: Obviously, any Biennale project has the potential for special attention, but I think it’s up to the individual artist to define the perimeters. However, I’m aware that there are several opinions on this matter.

CGE: Which other artists’ work will you be looking out for at the Biennale?

KR: I must admit, I haven’t been looking into the entire artist list yet. I’m very much looking forward to seeing my friend Yorgos Sapountzis’ contribution to the main exhibition, but in general I’m excited and curious to see it all!

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