The installation “Human billiards” enters a Danish museum – Art & Culture

James Brooks (AFP)

Copenhagen ●
Tue, October 11, 2022

Art & Culture

What might appear to be a bouncing game of giant billiards is actually a recreation of a playful art installation from the 1970s, on display in a museum on the outskirts of Copenhagen.

Three large bouncy balls dance on a bouncy castle-style white mattress. Visitors young and old run, jump, pass or stumble in an explosion of anarchic energy rarely seen in the hushed halls of museums.

The Arken Museum of Modern Art, about 15 kilometers southwest of central Copenhagen, has faithfully recreated Giant Billiardsan installation first staged in 1970 by the rebellious Austrian architect/artist group Haus-Rucker-Co.

At the time, the group’s three founders believed the times were calling for a sea change – an inflatable oasis, they believed, could help break down existing power hierarchies and create new, utopian urban spaces.

Indeed, among the screams, laughter and gasps, visitors are inadvertently part of a game – they fight against each other or next to each other according to the fall of the giant inflatable balloons.

“Maybe we can give something from the 70s, which was very positive [compared] to the present day,” laughs Gunter Zamp Kelp, 81, one of the three original members of Haus-Rucker-Co, which formed in 1967.

“The intention was to break up the historic heritage character of the museum and bring a bit more life and bring a new type of activity in the style of the museum,” he added.

After its first appearance in Vienna in 1970, Giant Billiards was staged in New York City later that year. But he rarely appeared in the next 50 years. The Arken show is a rare recreation and its first appearance in Scandinavia.

Tories say the work, staged today amid growing social inequality and isolation, couldn’t be more timely.

“I hope you come away thinking that sometimes unconventional solutions are needed. And we need them more than ever,” said Arken curator Jenny Lund.

“It also doesn’t matter if they’re having fun, and we need to have fun, I think, more than ever with everything that we’re up against,” she added.

Visitor Frederik Svanholm, 46, had his own interpretation.

“If you’re just lying down, then you’re safe, aren’t you? As soon as you get up in life, danger comes and knocks you out sometimes. That’s what he tells me,” a- he told AFP.

While some of Arken’s visitors might miss the deep social commentary, many seemed eager to partake in a rebound when the facility opens on October 8.

“I think it’s a good idea to make art that, for example, lets you interact with other people,” said 38-year-old office worker Laura Konrad. “You interact with people you don’t know at all.”

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