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Rikke Hansen

Selected essays etc

FEATURE ARTICLE (IN DANISH): 'Kunst i den Antropocæne Tidsalder', KUNSTEN.NU, September 1, 2015

'Det Antropocæne er blevet lidt af et buzz-ord inden for æstetik, filosofi og geovidenskab, siden termen blev introduceret for 15 år siden. Også på kunstscenen har temaet kronede dage med et stigende fokus på såkaldt 'eco-art'. Men markerer det Antropocæne et reelt skift i vores verdensopfattelse? Og, hvis ja, hvilke konsekvenser har dette for samtidens kunstbegreb?'

Læs hele artiklen her.

BOOK ESSAY: 'Circling the Topic' in Tanja Nellemann Poulsen's Rundkørsler Du Ikke Kommer Uden Om, (Copenhagen: SPACE POETRY, 2014)

'Circles. Loops. Language comes back to itself and becomes metalanguage. Language about language. In this way, language is transformed, even revolutionized, while the stream of words continue. It is a quiet revolution. Oh what a word! “Revolution”! To revolve. To return to the starting point in a circular motion. And at the same time, to rebel. To break the cycle. How can one word mean both things at the same time?'

For details on book launch, oct 23, 2014, please go to:


For more infomation and to purchase the book, please contact: SPACE POETRY.

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: 'Positions, directions' in HUMAN SITES sohn+isaksen's TOMMY/S KAHYT, (Aarhus: ARK, 2014)

'56° 08’ 49” N, 10° 12’ 46” E : She had a studio down by the docks. I visited her from time to time, but I actually cannot quite remember what her work was about. I remember the smells though. The stench of cow dung from the abattoir nearby. Invisible clouds of nauseating, suffocating, dense sweetness from the oil mill. The general and indescribable odour of industry. The smell of the sea as a note in the background. When you are young, the world is open. Only later do you lose your beliefs. We sat in the studio, dreaming of other, possible lives and all the world had to offer us. It was late. It often got late. One late summer night, at three in the morning, we were heading home. Back then, there was also a small metal foundry down by the harbour. We thought we were the only ones who were up, but a sea port does not close. A bright light shone from the foundry windows. The door was ajar. When you are young, you are brave. Only later does life teach you to be fearful. We went inside and asked what they were doing. The workers were in the process of casting Christmas stars. Those Georg Jensen stars that are coated with real gold. They hung in rows, suspended from the ceiling, shining in the warm night. Outside the sea and the sky met up in the horizon. Inside small suns were glowing, like greetings from other galaxies.'

For more details and to buy the book, please go to:

HUMAN SITES sohn+isaksen / Harbour. Power of Dreams

BOOK ESSAY: 'Animal Dialogues: Uncertainty, Hospitality and More-Than-Human Encounters' in Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson (eds), Uncertainty In The City, (Berlin: The Green Box, 2011)

'The ‘model’ for an alternative form of relational aesthetics offered by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s Uncertainty in the City is thoroughly ecological, not so much because the project deals with animals and the so-called natural world, but because it investigates the complex interconnectedness of living organisms, whether human-to-human or human-to-animal.As such, this ‘model’ offers not simply an addition that would allow us to include other-than-humans in Bourriaud’s original anthropocentric definition, but instead poses a challenge to this very concept by examining the ways in which living beings may or may not ‘make room’ for one another.'

For more details and to buy this book, please go to:

Uncertainty in the City / THE GREEN BOX

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: 'More-Than-Human Subjects: The Work of Julie Andreyev', Passages, (Ontario, Canada: Art Gallery of Mississauga, 2010)

'In these works, duration is key, as the animal eyes demand our continued concentration before the monitors. But what is the nature of such a plea? According to Emmanuel Levinas, it is the face-to-face encounter with another being that brings about an ethical demand. What such a meeting of gazes calls for, is a non-violent, non-reductive understanding of the Other in his or her otherness, without projecting any pre-existing ideas onto that other being. It would follow, that anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to animals, is a kind of violence. Yet, when it comes to interspecies encounters, Levinas retracts his claim and states that: "I cannot say at what moment you have the right to be called ‘face’. The human face is completely different and only afterwards do we discover the face of an animal". This is a claim that has been highly contested, and in many ways Andreyev’s work follows the same line of protest.'

BOOK ESSAY: 'Walks in Spectral Space: East London Crime Scene Tourism', in Strange Spaces: Explorations into Mediated Obscurity, eds. Andre Jansson and Amanda Lagerkvist, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009). Co-written with Chris Wilbert. 

'After certain murders become cast as notorious or infamous in the media an public eye, we may be faced with all kinds of projections and "careful artifice" - cinema, television, guided tourist walks, art and museum exhibitions, popular crime novels, simulcra of crime scenes in tourist attractions, and more, that mesh together with often odd affects. Some of the trails of this careful artifice we outline in this chapter in relation to tourist walks. As we focus on what comes "late" to experience and long after the event, it therefore seems appropriate to start our account of close to the end. And so we find ourselves on guided walks in the east end of London together with 50, perhaps 60 other people. It is the most popular tourist walks in the city, one that focuses on the notorious "Whitechapel Murders", committed by an unknown infamous figure became known as Jack the Ripper. As this tour is moving to a close, our guide makes one of his last stops to address us...'

To see more details and buy this book, please go to:

Strange Spaces: Explorations into Mediated Obscurity.

EXHIBITION TEXT: 'Rummet i Forandring', (Space of/in Change), introductory exhibition essay for Guld og Grønne Skove. Fustagetapperiet, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009; (in DANISH - an ENGLISH translation will be available soon)

DANISH VERSION: 'En dag kommer der et postkort. Det kiler sig ind gennem brevsprækken, ført af en usynlig hånd på den anden side af døren. Et ekkoløst ”donk” høres, da kortet rammer entregulvet, og hjørnet af pappet stødes. På sin rejse mellem ”der” og ”her” har kortet adskillige gange måttet overtræde grænsen mellem det private og det offentlige. Når det ligger der på gulvet og venter på at blive samlet op af hænder, der ryster af forventning om nyt fra fjerne steder og historier om manglende penge og dårligt vejr, bærer det i sin midlertidige stilstand også spor af sin egen jordiske rumrejse. Postkortet er født ud af et underligt mellemrum. Det er, for at låne et koncept fra Walter Benjamin, ”porøst”. Her på denne lille flade mødes en masse modsætninger. De egenskaber, man ellers havde forbeholdt det private, er pludseligt tilgængelige for gud og hver mand. Det private rum ”bløder” ind i det offentlige. Og vice versa. Samtidig skriver afsenderen ofte i koder, der er semi-forbeholdt adressaten.'

Download DANISH full text version here:

Rummet i Forandring RHansen.doc

CONFERENCE PAPER: ‘Travelling Skins: Hides, Furs, and other Animal Surfaces in Art', Meet Animal Meat Conference, Uppsala University, Sweden, 2009 (unpublished)  

‘Why do you tear me from myself?’ Ovid has Marsyas asking. But where does this "me" reside once the flaying is over? What happens to the "animality" of a skinned animal? Traditional taxidermy pushes forward the belief that animals are their skin. The flaying of a nonhuman animal transforms flesh into meat and leaves skin to carry the animal’s "animalness" forward. Ironically, this makes it difficult to see the skin; difficult to not see the animal; difficult to see the constructions over which the skin is stretched. In traditional taxidermy, the skin becomes Poe’s "purloined letter": displayed directly in front of our eyes, it remains oddly out of sight.'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen Travelling Skins.doc

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: ‘An Animal Gazes’, exhibition/conference DVD, The Animal Gaze: Contemporary Art and Animal/Human Studies, (London: London Metropolitan University, 2008)

'We inevitably arrive at the animal question late. No biological, zoological or phenomenological account of a primary human-animal kinship can do away with centuries of segregation and marginalisation of non-human animal beings. We may look for new models to understand human-animal relations; we may even find "truer" ones, but we cannot do away with the history that has conditioned that thing we call "life" for so long. To paraphrase Fanon: we come too late, much too late; there will always be a world – a human world - between us and them.'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen Animal Gazes.doc

FEATURE ARTICLE: ‘Things vs. Objects: On the Public Life of Things’, Art Monthly, No. 318, Jul-Aug 08

'Terms such as "participation" and "dialogue" have come to dominate the discussion that surrounds the so-called socially engaged art practices of the late 1990s and the 2000s. According to such rhetorics, the artist is an engineer of situations, setting up contexts in which passive spectators become active participants and co-creators of the work in question. It is a debate that has, so far, had little to say about the props that make up the stage set for these acts. Instead, objects are seen, at best, as necessary middlemen that work as catalysts for conversation or, at worst, as the last obstacles obstructing otherwise unmediated interactions. I want to focus on the life of "things" in the social world and, more specifically, what happens to things when they get transported into the context of socially engaged art practices...'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen Things Objects AM.doc

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: 'Animals', Richard Billingham: People, Places, Animals, (Melbourne: ACCA, 2007)

'...children visit the zoo, or rather, they do not simply 'visit', they get taken by their parents or their teachers. This taking is also a giving, a handing over of knowledge from one generation to the other. It is an education which begins with the power of naming. "What is that one called?' we ask, and the child answers: "tiger", "lion", "gorilla". Anchored deep within the family fabric, the camera presents itself as the ideal tool to commemorate such days out. In addition, these excursions offer an opportunity for children and adults to play with the camera, to test its possibilities, pointing it towards living and moving animal subjects, who, unlike humans, do not have to give their permission for the photo to be taken. The intimate relationship between the camera and the animal exhibit is not, however, limited to such days out, but runs through the history of photography. In fact, we might say that the camera has itself grown up with animals and thus influenced our ideas of what makes an animal...'

FEATURE ARTICLE: ‘Impossible Subjects: The Work of Peter Callesen’, New York Arts Magazine, Nov-Dec 07

'In 1869, Georg Brandes criticised Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale "The Ugly Duckling" for its ending, which, according to the eminent Danish critic, reduced its protagonist to a domesticated animal. Had the duckling-turned-swan met his death on the lake or flown away, Brandes argued, this would have made a less disappointing conclusion than the animal’s contentment at being accepted by others. The ugly duckling is also a recurring motif in the work of contemporary Danish artist Peter Callesen. Here, elements are lifted from a seemingly banal fairytale world into the realm of adulthood for scrutiny...'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen Impossible Subjects.doc

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: ‘End Points, Turning Points’, Vendepunkter, Byggeriets Hus, Copenhagen, Denmark

'Recent years have witnessed an overabundance of “turns” - from the pictorial turn and the corporeal turn within cultural studies, to the ethnographic turn and the performative turn within art - enough to make anyone dizzy. Among these “turns”, which have replaced the avant-gardist notion of negation, we also find the so-called spatial turn affecting a wide range of disciplines. But what does it mean for an artist to think spatially, beyond simply arranging objects or paintings in a space? And how does one find one’s way through this turn towards “turns”?...'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen End Points.doc

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE ESSAY: 'Adam Thompson', UK06, touring exhibition, Japan 

'One of the most striking features of Adam Thompson's work is his tireless dedication to undoing that favourite of artistic motifs: the landscape. Traditionally, photographs and paintings of landscapes refer back to the physical locations they represent, but here we are presented with "placeless" sceneries, stripped of all recognisable traces and given elusive titles, such as 3017, or simply Untitled. These investigations take on a variety of forms, one of which is the creation of 3-D miniature models. The scaled-down constructions evoke mental images of burnt-out landscapes and the aftermath of war or environmental disaster, whilst being strangely pleasing to the eye; the blackness in these works is deep, but also without depth...'

Download full text version here:

R_Hansen Adam Thompson.doc