Danish artist Asbjørn Skou works with a wide range of media to create artworks that serve as a form of spatial research and communication.
His work investigates the intersections between architecture, culture, power and memory and is often documental, rooted in observation and intricate research.
We invited him for a walk through one of the rapidly developing and increasingly gentrified areas in the south of Copenhagen.
Within the recent past the area has sprouted office buildings, luxury apartments and a massive expansion of the University of Copenhagen.
Written by Erik Duckert
Photos by Martin Kurt Haglund
As we photograph one of the smooth glass buildings in the area
a local resident shouts in passing:
LOCAL: “I fucking hate that building – it has no place here!
I saw some tourists taking photographs of it the other day, told them they could bring it back home with them when they left.”
He strides towards the old red-bricked workers quarters opposite the campus area.
As we move deeper into the constructed landscape
Asbjørn Skou elaborates on his practice.
SKOU: “We move around in this reality compiled of glossy post-post realities of perfect screens and perfect buildings, perfect people, perfect cityscapes – that’s why I think the cracks are so important to focus on.”
S: “I am interested in the science-fictionalized narratives of everyday architectural objects – of the chain-link fence, the landfill, the elevator, the high-way underpass, the multi-story parking lot, the pedestrian tunnel, the neon light and the odd dead angle where two walls don’t quite meet.”
Asbjørn Skou (b. 1984) graduated from the Academy of art in Bremen, Germany 2009. In addition to working in the public space he has also exhibited on museums and galleries in Europe and the United States.
S: “It is about choosing to see the margins of things as a space with a radical potential for openness. One where the anchorage for our understanding of object, architecture and history is potentially shattered, and new explorations in perspective and meanings become possible.“
S: “On different levels my work comments on the architecture and city planning that surround us.
We move into the vast desolate campus area of Copenhagen University’s new Faculty of Human Sciences.
“The only true utopian architecture is the architect’s drawing; the moment the drawing is actualized it is polluted by reality – no longer utopian but factual”
S: “Most of my artworks share a reference point in the construction and dissolution of built environment. From fictionalized archaeology carried out in modern ruins, to rudimentary scale models and collages depicting collapsing spaces – constructed from digitally generated architectural plans.
They suggest a future archaeological ground, constructed from fragments of a psychosphere of infrastructure – one that has been plunged, catastrophically, into a state of geographical and chronological abjection.”
S: “Contemporary culture has put its faith in an ideology of progress: Progress will make things better!
However the whole thing seems driven forth only by our faith in ‘the drive'; what happens when this faith fails to ring true, in the light of for example economic downturn, ecological catastrophes, rising fear of terrorism, crime and global pandemics?
But even more fundamentally: When the only inherent ideological content of the bright n’ shiny future is a promise of further enhancing already existing commodities, it collapses into undefined longing – dissolves and becomes mere nostalgia for a future.”