Hesselholdt & Mejlvang Studio Visit

Hesselholdt & Mejlvang is the working-name of an artist duo that is based in Denmark, which was established in 1999 during Sofie Hesselholdt (1974) and Vibeke Mejlvang’s (1976) years of studying. They both graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. The inherent condition of being two artists working together is almost symptomatic of the character of their work. Different points of view, opinions and capacities constitute productive assets and leave an evident trait, inasmuch as their work is continually preconditioned with a duality, opposing positions or components that give rise to widespread connotations.

About the artist group

Hesselholdt & Mejlvang work primarily in the field of objects and installations, where readymades are often incorporated. Site-specificity also often plays a role, whether manifested inside an art institution, in the public space or in a venue like a college building, an embassy or a remote forest. Textiles, articles of furniture, flags, stuffed animals, colors as monochromes and ceramics are some favorite elements that keep re-occurring in Hesselholdt & Mejlvang’s art.

Their practice could be described as tricky rebuses: puzzling and engaging, but never readable as singular statements. Their works are mostly built of several identifiable objects or readymades, seemingly unrelated, creating scenographic installations where each element adds a perspective, note or comment to the theme in question. The carefully chosen components foster an immediate identification, while the odd combinations reflect an investigative quest to explore the many facets of a given subject matter. The single objects might be easy to recognize, but how do an alligator, a lamp and a carpet come together? And how about a doormat, chains, sugar cubes, miniature boats and a flower wreath – all held in one beetroot hue? Hesselholdt & Mejlvang’s works require pensiveness and the ability to let associations flow, but also the capacity to conform all the aspects, in order to avoid losing focus.

In spite of the recognizable elements, Hesselholdt & Mejlvang’s works embody a disruptive character – their riddles do not lend themselves to being solved. There is no resulting answer to be found; the art works are carrying on an internal dialogue of their own. And the beholder is thereby very much invited to take part in the debate. National identity, Eurocentrism, and the creation of a collective We are the focal themes in Hesselholdt & Mejlvang’s works. Often through stereotypes or clichés, they are questioning how social and political structures are being established and reproduced in society. Symbols and pentagrams, but also everyday objects, like tables, chairs, balloons and articles of clothing, are being paraphrased: this infuses a humorous aspect into their devoted conversational kick-offs. The humor is, however, neither a means to amusement nor a mitigation, but rather an agent for exposing dilemmas, irony and hypocrisy concerning current conditions that we have become immune or overexposed to.

Hesselholdt & Mejlvang have exhibited widely in institutions, galleries and public spaces in Denmark and abroad. Most recently, they have presented solo exhibitions at Turku Art Museum, Finland; KUNSTEN-Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark; Kunsthal NORD, Denmark; Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Denmark; Uppsala Art Museum, Sweden; SKMU-Sørlandets Art Museum, Norway; Oslo Kunstforening, Norway; and Platform Arts, Northern Ireland.

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