Blind Date July 7 – September 17 CCA Andratx

Interview with curators Tania and Thomas Asbæk

From July 7 – September 17, 2017, works by two of the most talented, international young Danish artists, Troels Sandegård and Absalon Kirkeby, will be shown together in the exhibition ‘Blind Date’ at the CCA Andratx, a 4.000 m2 centre for contemporary art in Mallorca. The exhibition, organized specifically for the CCA by the curators Tania and Thomas Asbæk, is conceived as an old-fashion blind date between both artists and will explore the common references and meetings between their works and realities. We had a talk with Tania and Thomas Asbæk about the concept of the exhibition and the creative process from the very first ‘blind date’ to the development of an artistic relationship that evolves around the state of presence.

Absalon Kirkeby, Untitled, 115x170,5 cm, inkjet print.

The title of the exhibition, ‘Blind Date’, brings with it many associations to the concept of blind dating. As a curator, you often play the role as a ‘matchmaker’ between different artists and their works. What were your initial thoughts on a rendezvous between Troels Sandegård and Absalon Kirkeby?
To be honest, the whole idea was a spin off of a current exhibition at the Centro Cultural Andratx featuring the CoBrA artist Carl-Henning Pedersen and HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark. Carl-Henning is showing some of his most important paintings and The Prince is showing his ‘secret’ sculptures. Even though the two artistic expressions were created many years apart, and by two people with very different backgrounds, there is some sort of common reference in their work. In addition, it’s obvious that they share a love of art as something very intuitive and expressive; something simple, but in a good way. This is an exhibition that really works on many levels.

We wanted to bring that whole “sculpture/painting” format up-to-date. What would happen in a match-up with two very contemporary artists if you asked them to “copy” such a simple set-up. The reason we invited Troels and Absalon was obvious, at least for us. We knew the intelligent and aesthetical qualities of their work (the aesthetical dimension was very important since the ‘reference’ exhibition was so simple and beautiful), and we knew they were both serious and hardworking young artists. In addition, they have the talent and self-confidence to take up such a strange challenge in such a huge space.

Troels Sandegård, INSPIRATIONS 60 minutes #5, brass, 79,4 x 79,4 x 79,4 cm.

How did your interaction with the artists evolve from your first encounter with their work to the realization of the exhibition?
We knew both of them quite well. Troels has become a great friend, and Absalon has been a “part of the family” for many years, since he has been a good friend of Pilou, the youngest brother of Thomas, for many years. Therefore, we had a very clear idea of what they were like on a personal level. Fortunately, their exceptional personalities did not change even though our relationship now turned into something “more professional”. They are both great guys, and always have been. Naturally, we had no reservations regarding their artistic capacity and qualities.

‘Blind Date’ brings two Danish artists together with two seemingly different approaches to art. How would you define the togetherness between Troels Sandegård and Absalon Kirkeby?
Actually, they have a very similar approach to art. They are both very ‘present’ in the process. Troels has a very literal presence in his work since it’s all about processing and measuring and featuring his physical impact on his surroundings. Absalon’s work reflects how the world has had an impact on him, in a more psychological way, but it´s all about being present. They are both extremely honest and sincere people.

Absalon Kirkeby, Ørn/Flash, 115x170,5 cm, inkjet print.
Troels Sandegård, INSPIRATIONS 60 minutes #5, brass, 79,4 x 79,4 x 79,4 cm.

Seen in the light of the dating terminology, this ‘blind date’ evolves into a relationship during the exhibition period. The artworks meet every single day, correspond with one another and get to know each other on a deeper level. How has the relationship between Troels Sandegård’s and Absalon Kirkeby’s artistic practices evolved since the very first meeting?
We don’t think they have changed as artists during this period. They have kept to their ‘original’ concept. Maybe we as audience will experience a new artistic dimension in the space “in between” the sculptures and wall pieces. Something new will appear in this clash/meeting in situ. However, artistically it’s not about the two artists merging into one. Naturally a process as this one will have an influence on both of them as persons, and as mentioned, they are both very personal in their work, so maybe this exhibition will be reflected artistically in their future work, respectively.

Did you have a reference point from other exhibitions or was this a new curatorial approach for you?
This one is easy, and we refer directly to question one.

In contrast to Troels Sandegård and Absalon Kirkeby, the two of you are partners both privately and businesswise. How do you think this has influenced your curatorial collaboration?
The fact that we are ‘together’ in every aspect of life gives us a chance to think things through and elaborate on thoughts and ideas on different levels. As business partners, romantic partners, lovers, parents and on. However, it is dangerous if the two of us become one. Especially when we are in the ‘art business’. There is not much forward movement in exclusively agreeing. It’s practical, but it will not create many new thoughts. So fortunately, we disagree a lot. We are two very different people, but we have that practical dimension to our relationship too. This is crazy, but we need to work it out.

CCA Andratx as seen from the Tramuntana Mountains in Mallorca.

Located on the southern side of the Tramuntana Mountains in Mallorca, CCA Andratx has a unique location that stands out from the traditional experience of an exhibition space, not least a blind date. How did you take the surroundings into consideration when curating the exhibition?
When you isolate people, they either kill each other or take things to a new level. We are looking very much forward to seeing what will happen in the shadow of the Tramuntana Mountains in this case. Troels and Absalon are currently living in the residency in the CCA Andratx, and the last thing we heard was that they were both very much alive.

In recent years, technological development has drastically changed the ways in which we communicate. You can easily experience new artists and set up ‘blind dates’ between artists from all over the world. Has this had a direct effect on your curatorial practice, for instance in terms of getting to know new artists?
This event is in contrast to the way many people meet casually and randomly today. This is a deliberate, old-fashioned setup. We knew both of the artists and thought they would fit as a couple in order to solve this specific task of ‘recreating’ an exhibition. We hope we were able to consider several more (personal and important) parameters than Tinder is capable of doing, at least for now. However, it is a very interesting question. Perhaps it would be interesting to make an exhibition made up by matching artists by digital profiles. Leave out the man in the middle. Actually we should keep it all online, it would save the galleries a lot of rent money too. Maybe Artland is up for the challenge?

Installation view from the current exhibition at the CCA Andratx, 'RENCONTRE FABULEUSE', feat. HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark and the CoBrA artist Carl-Henning Pedersen, which served as inspiration for Tania and Thomas Asbæk when curating the exhibition 'Blind Date'.

Do you experience a difference in the work progress when the artists you invite to participate in a show do not know each other beforehand, as is the case in ‘Blind Date’?
We don’t really know. Maybe there is a more determinate willingness to make things work out when given the challenge of a blind date. It was obvious that both Absalon and Troels worked very hard on this ‘relationship’ right from the beginning. There was this: “We need to make this work without losing ourselves in the process.” A sort of ‘love without compromise’ attitude. It was quite beautiful to witness.

If successful, a blind date results in a reunion between the two parties. Can you imagine another exhibition featuring both Troels Sandegård and Absalon Kirkeby in the future?
We can imagine almost anything, but this one is not for us to answer.

Patio at CCA Andratx.

About CCA Andratx
CCA Andratx was founded by Jacob and Patricia Asbæk the in 2001. The 4.000 m2 building has a minimal but traditional style, which is perfectly integrated in the breath-taking, natural scenery of its surroundings. CCA is one of the largest centres of Contemporary Art in the Balearic Islands as well as in the rest of Europe.

An artist-in-residence program is open to national and international artists, where four studios are available to artists for a period of four weeks. Over 500 artists from 20 different countries have already benefited from this program.

Meet the Artists – Open Studios
Spending the summer in Mallorca? Don’t miss the chance to meet the artists who are living and working in the CCA Studios during July 2017. More info here.

Calle Estanyera 2
07150 Andratx

Tel: (+34) 971 137 770
Email: [email protected]

The exhibition is supported by The Danish Arts Foundation.