Butchering traditions with Kaare Sebastian Golles

Featured in: Issue Nº 6

Category: Interview


All work photos by Terje Östling. For more information and individual titles please check out Kaare Golles’ website here.

Danish artist Kaare Sebastian Golles (b. 1985) works primarily with sculpture. Golles finished Malmö Art academy 2014 and his work explores the borders of culture vs. nature manifested, however, in a clash between classical sculpting – with its strict hierarchy and inherent ties to transcendence – and postmodern fragmentation.

He invited us to experience the marble statues of Danish neoclassicist sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and then juxtaposed the experience with a guided tour in the grotesque environment of an industry wholesale meat department.

By Erik Duckert
Photos by: Martin Kurt Haglund

GOLLES: “I believe in the fragment.”

We move into the narrow halls of Thovaldsen’s Museeum in the center of Copenhagen. Each marble sculpture has its own little room and its own little ray of sunlight.

G: “I am fascinated with the classic Hellenistic sculptures but it is impossible to reach that kind of ideological unity today, everything is so fragmented and interchanging.”

G: “The biggest challenge today is to achieve unity.”

Runs his finger across Thorvaldsen’s award winning Jason with the Golden Fleece.

G: “I have struggled and struggled trying to sculpt a human body in its entirety – every time I have wound up chopping it.

Completely destroying it.

It is like there’s something unnatural in that figure in our time, the fragment has become reality and it seems the wound won’t heal.”

G: “It’s not because I have some perverted urge for the grotesque, but when I try to make something that is classically beautiful it becomes so nauseating that you can’t …

–  I just have to get out the hatchet and chop away at it.”

Golles’ deep voice lingers.

G: “Today we are completely handicapped when it comes to understanding a sculpture by for instance Michelangelo – we’ve lost the vocabulary for that conversation.”

We leave the museum and head for one of the industry wholesalers in the city. Golles worked for four years in a slaughterhouse and the historical development of ‘the slaughter’ as ritual and commercial product is a recurring theme in his practice.

G: “The preparation of the meal is one of the core ritualistic practices that establish the divide between nature and culture.”

G: “I find that the slaughterhouse represents a very one to one scale understanding of reality. I prefer that my work be cut to the bone, scrape away all the other layers, and I really think the slaughterhouse shows that approach well: the brutality but also the beauty of the slaughtered animals.”

G: “The ancient sacrificial structure is thriving in todays society. It has just shifted from a grandiose ritualistic practice to an everyday ritual, which is particularly evident through the processed consumption we see in the food industry.”

Leaving the chilled room of steel, plastic and meat Golles emphasizes:

G: “Sculpture has always been connected to death and demise, since the first stones raised on the graves of the deceased.”