Salon des Refusés
Part of 'Witch Hunt' @ Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, US
Curated by Jeppe Ugelvig and Alison Karasyk
07.11.2020 - 17.01.2021
To Rasmus Myrup, the folkloric figure of the witch relates to many other beings from Danish folklore who, in legends, were similarly portrayed as a detriment to the establishment; malignant, threatening and weird. These Othered figures, often related to animism, were understood as being closer to nature and as standing opposition to normative human culture. While many of these have been largely forgotten or transposed, the folklore pertaining to the witch still holds a central place in Danish folk tradition, as she is literally re-created annually, rendered in clothes and hay, only to be burned on the stake around the time of Summer Solstice
As an act of reclamation, Myrup’s new commission for Witch Hunt gathers many of these outcast characters in a salon environment, fashioning them as modern individuals. Using the traditional form of the Solstice witch, each figure’s body is created from natural material and dressed in distinct outfits, and their bodies are made from a natural material, each figure embodying a different piece of the Danish nature. In this imagined community of rejects, folkloric characters from ancient times, over norse mythology to pagan 17th-century legends, gather in a utopian nocturnal banquet, resembling a nightclub or bar: A safe space for the witch.
The idea of the witches’ gathering – the sabbath – as a space of animistic transformation, bacchanalia, and sexual debauchery was widely perpetuated during the Nordic witch-hunts, and drew from classic Greek and Roman literature as well pre-Christian shamanic traditions native to the European continent. Often referred to as “the dance,” sabbaths were liminal spaces that inverted normative gender and moral categorization, and were popularly imagined as both threatening and highly alluring, as evident in artistic depictions of the time. By producing a fantastical space for those excluded from the narrative of a modern, human Denmark, Myrup reflects upon our social and political relationship to folklore, and its potential for re-interpretation in the present.
Click here to see the plan of the sculptures in English
Click here to see the plan of the sculptures in Danish
All documentation by David Stjernholm