John Olsen, Lars Abrahamsen and Vagn Lundbye:
Animal Ego

13. October 2000 to 10. December 2000

John Olsen, Lars Abrahamsen and Vagn Lundbye : Animal Ego

John Olsen, Lars Abrahamsen and Vagn Lundbye created an impressive labyrinthine room in which the audience became a part of the installation - the preferred mode of expression of contemporary art. 

The exhibition created an experience that appealed to emotions, senses and intellect. The theme of the exhibition took a close look at the relationship between animal and man. It is about relating to the world. The stage was set for discussions of animal ethics at the exhibition. At the same time it served as a reminder that it is just as natural to pet a chicken as it is to slaughter it and eat it!

The point of departure of John Olsen’s visual art remains nature - as opposed to the great majority of artists who focus on culture, civilization and technological processes. John Olsen does not need to keep death at a distance. He is concerned with the Great Narratives: life and death, birth, growth, flourishing, decay and resurrection. 

John Olsen’s work can be seen as an analysis of the space that exists behind the immediately recognizable. In close co-operation with Lars Abrahamsen, John Olsen raises questions which at one and the same time seem strange and obvious, using the tools of visual art.

Vagn Lundbye also takes an interest in nature, and in particular in the animals which inhabit it. In his book Dyrejeg (Animal Ego), which was published in connection with the exhibition, Vagn Lundbye presented the phenomenon animal ego. According to American Indians and tribes of Borneo, the animal ego is a being that all humans possess. The animal ego chooses the human; and this choice takes place as early as in the embryonic stage. After that, the animal ego keeps an eye on its human and helps the human it its own way when he is in need.

Vagn Lundbye and John Olsen have worked together previously — most recently in connection with the publishing of Dyrefabler (Animal Fables) (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1994). Now they (along with Lars Abrahamsen) try to use the exhibition as a means of creating a room for experience, play and reflection.

The many rooms of the exhibition had all been created in such a way that they presented an unusual sense impression in order to demonstrate the relationship between man and animal — in physical as well as in mental terms. The exhibtion raised a number of ethical questions about the paradoxical contra-dictions in man’s relationship to animals. 

Animal Ego deliberately appealed to the senses through images, sounds, smells, heat, cold, cuddly toys, bones and a room for climbing. A giant labyrinth took you through a girl’s bedroom, a mole tunnel, a room of cuddly toys, forbidden rooms and much, much more. And it is OK to touch!

Animal Ego was created as a collaboration between the artists and Kunsthallen Brandts Klædefabrik in Odense where the exhibtion was shown in the spring of 2000. 

Vagn Lundbye’s book Dyrejeg (Animal Ego) (Copenhagen: Borgen, 2000) was published in connection with the exhibition. It is a book that invites debate and illustrates many of the issues that are raised by the exhibition itself.