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Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg
Kong Christians Allé 50
9000 Aalborg
Denmark

Phone: +45 99 82 41 00
kunsten@kunsten.dk
CVR: 47 21 82 68
EAN: 5798003745718

 

Danske Bank

Regnr.: 4368 Kontonr.: 3402 188 898 

Superflex

Danish artists’ group comprising Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, b.1969, Rasmus Nielsen, b.1969, Jacob Fenger, b.1968

 

We Are Having the Time of Our Lives, 2021

LED lettering, aluminium structure, PVC sandbags
The artists

 

About the work

A large illuminated LED sign flashing the message We Are Having the Time of Our Lives beams into the room like a huge advertising sign. On the face of it, the message seems encouraging, but a closer look reveals that the sign is barricaded with sandbags, protecting it from being knocked over. Despite the sign being made from bent neon tubes, its safety is threatened by external powers.

 

The messages in the works by the Danish artists’ group Superflex are rarely ambiguous and their work often revolves around topics such as a critique of capitalism, the climate crisis, and consumerism. They perceive their works as ’tools’ with which viewers can interact and perhaps then discover other and more experimental paths to change than those offered by traditional economic production systems. Relative to the exhibition Work it Out and its theme on modern working life, the work suggests inner reflection: do I experience ‘the time of my life’ when I work or when I do not work? The work can also be viewed as a reminder that an even greater crisis lurks around the next corner. Our familiar society is undergoing major transformation.

 

Context

According to Superflex, man’s evolution is peaking at this very moment and we now have the opportunity to ‘enjoy the very best of times’. However, this will be at the cost of future generations. We cannot merely continue to consume and leave the growth curves to race on if we care about tomorrow’s society and a more sustainable and climate-friendly development.

 

The UN 17 sustainable development goals from 2015 have placed renewed focus on inequality in the world, the climate, and the need for a cohesive development across the nations of the world. Nonetheless, we are still a long way from achieving significant changes. Many experienced a brief hope for the climate during the global pandemic. Planet Earth briefly assumed a bluer colour and the sky became clearer when the smog disappeared above the world’s major cities.

 

Investment Bank Flowerpot/Deutsche Bank, 2017

Concrete, soil, hallucinogenic plants, stainless steel bucket.

The artists

 

Investment Bank Flowerpot / JPMorgan Chase, 2017

Concrete, soil, hallucinogenic plants, stainless steel bucket.

Courtesy of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

 

About the work

In the series of works Investment Bank Flowerpots, Superflex subject the market economy to critical scrutiny. Two versions of the series Investment Bank Flowerpots are shown at the Work it Out exhibition and have been carefully selected in collaboration with the artist. The sculptures are models of the headquarters of some of the world’s largest investment banks, in this case Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. Each model works as a flowerpot for plants growing on the roofs of the banks.

 

The huge prominent banks are transformed into architectural models holding flowerpots with plants for daily use. The plants change from one exhibition to the next and may, in some cases, be hallucinogenic. The plants’ hallucinogenic effect is reminiscent of the euphoria linked to money transactions: the untrammelled free market can be intoxicating and the global economy is continually formed by this proliferating power.

 

Context

The question of growth is closely linked to working life and the role played by individuals to keep the wheels turning and contribute to society.

Working life is generally defined by general social development, the policies of individual countries, and global development. Growth curves, unemployment statistics, and earnings performance affect the lives of every single person. Many people talk about the experience of running ever faster in a treadmill – running amok like the growth curves in the big banks, resulting in staggering effects.

 

The Working Life, 2013

Filmed on RED, PAL, 16:9, 1920x1080 pixels, 16-bit 48.000kHz. Stereo sound. 

Duration: 9 min., 50 sec.

 

Script: Nikolaj Heltoft & SUPERFLEX
Hypnotist: Tommy Rosenkilde
Director: Caroline Sascha Cogez
Cinematographer: Magnus Jønck
Camera Assistant: Ivan Molina Carmona
Grip: Christian Broe Brøndum
DIT: Rasmus Jørgensen
Sound: Morten Bak Jensen
Sound Design/Composer: Mads Heldtberg
Editor: Copenhagen Brains

 

About the work

In the work The Working Life from 2013 by Superflex, the working situation is analysed from a therapeutic perspective. The video reproduces a session with a hypnotist, speaking directly to the camera in a hypnotic voice, taking you on a fantasy journey into an attractive office and back into freedom. A journey that starts with great expectations of becoming part of working life, but ends in both joy and relief at escaping from the inhumane office environment. Superflex’s work questions how and whether we can find happiness in working at an office. The hypnotist finishes the seance by snapping his fingers when the door opens to the outside world with a new sense of breaking free.

 

Context

The dream of having a job is not new. Since the industrialisation, unemployment has been closely monitored. Many aspire to the perfect job, dreaming of self-realisation and promotion. We want to perform and be recognised in our jobs. The Danish welfare state has come a long way in the effort to develop good general working conditions – often referred to as favourable compared to abroad. The Danish labour market is characterised by a long-standing tradition of determining pay and working conditions via collective bargaining. However, according to the sociologists Rasmus Willig and Anders Ejrnæs, we now put up with more than we did earlier. Many people experience stress and anxiety about not being able to meet the rising demands and the fear of losing one’s job has increased as the need for social security is great. In his book Kritikkens U-vending (A U-Turn of Criticism) (2013), Rasmus Willig describes how criticism has changed to become a personal problem. Now, it has the character of self-criticism and the former labour movement’s criticism concerning working life directed at employers implodes by being returned to the sender, the individual person.