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Kristina Johnson, Director
Jehra Patrick, Founder

Presented by workroom, a Waiting Room project
March 3 – 25, 2017

Public Reception
Friday, March 3
7 – 10 pm featuring a curator's talk at 8pm

Curated by Iben Bach Elmstrøm, showing works by Annesofie Sandal (Copenhagen, DK), Spencer Stucky and Lucas Briffa (Chicago, IL), artists duo Hesselholdt and Mejlvang (Copenhagen, DK), Ana Hansa-Ogren (Milwaukee, WI) and Tia-Simone Gardner (Minneapolis, MN).

The Emperor is Naked borrows its title from a fairytale by poet Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, sight becomes insight, which in turn challenges our perception and prompts action. The tale is about the courage to test authorities and speak truth publicly, but its plot and essence also activate concerns of pretentiousness, social hypocrisy, and how entrenched norms can flavor publics.

Curated by Iben Bach Elstrøm, the exhibition aims to artistically and aesthetically reflect upon the forms and perceptions surrounding contemporary cultural subjectivities and their dysfunctions. The contradictions and complexities of current identity politics are often concealed and ambiguous at the core of a Western notion of politics, freedom, and identity. The fear of a loss of cultural meaning, or belonging, is amplified when populations become perceived as masses, which stimulates new levels of protection and preservation of cultural identity and legacy.

The exhibition is imagined as a conversation between two continents divided by the Atlantic Ocean - Europe and the United States - and between Danish artists and Midwestern American artists. National and social discourse differs between continents and cultures, but the recognition of the subjectivity of ethnic origins correlates across identities, geopolitical constructions and – time and space.

Artist Annesofie Sandal raises question on class, ethnicity, and our global society through her sculptural practice with discarded materials. Her investigation into homogeneous objects from ‘anywhere’ and ‘everywhere’ pushes our value systems out of sync and into the ambiguity between reading and reality.

For their first collaborative project "Acts 12: 6-9", Spencer Stucky and Lucas Briffa select and produce objects and documents surrounding issues of authority and politics. In their practice they research systems of operational power and police aesthetic, protection systems from civil conflicts, and the ambiguities apparent in a population spin out of control.

Hesselholdt & Mejlvang create different kinds of scenographic constellations, characterized by aesthetic and political acuity. The artist duo works with national self-understanding and the stereotypically representations of racial classifications and their translation into hidden layers of everyday society.

Ana Hansa-Ogren examines ways in which perception and subjectivity have political and social effect. She creates objects and immersive environments, which seduce sensorially, while refusing a quick decoding.

By establishing spaces that require a negotiation of meaning, being self-aware rather than passive, Hansa-Ogren draws attention to the role of the audience in the day-to-day act of producing and performing their own environment, experience, and identities.

Tia-Simone Gardner is interested in boundaries, both geological, and also pedagogical - what we can teach ourselves.

Iben Bach Elmstrøm is an independent curator, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Iben Bach Elmstrøm working with a range of contemporary art and curatorial projects, such as those concerned with the interplay between aesthetic dimensions, conceptual potentials and political imaginaries and questioning. Iben Bach Elmstrøm is also the director of SixtyEight Art Institute, an artistic and curatorial research organization looking to uncover, develop and further exchanges between artists and curators.

Presented by Waiting Room.

The Emperor has No Clothes installation photographs, 2016, The Ski Club, Milwaukee.
Photo: Iben Bach Elmstrøm
Artist photos courtesy of: Ana Hansa-Ogren, Annesofie Sandal