The exhibition Ghosthouse will transform Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art into a house of horrors. Ghosthouse is simultaneously a traditional exhibition and an immersive performance. Artworks in versatile media are presented: sculptures, textile, fashion, costumes, concerts, performances, video works, installations. All the exhibited artworks pivot aspects of illusion and horror, representing the uncanny in minor offsets that turn the familiar into something disturbing, weird or eerie.
The central performative approach to the exhibition will transform Den Frie into a ghost ride – quite literally. Visitors are placed in giant head-shaped sculptures on wheels by the artist Rikard Thambert (SE) and are pushed through the exhibition following a time-based narrative performance piece by the artist Aske Høier Olsen (DK).
The exhibition reflects Walter Benjamin’s writings on the phenomena of the Phantasmagoria. Phantasmagorias were an early type of ghost rides or immersive theater installations that with flickering lights, magic lanterns and cast shadows were made to scare and delight paying customers. These displays were often found in proximity to markets, commerce and, as described by Benjamin, in the Parisian arcades of the 19th century. To Benjamin the phantasmagoria became a useful metaphor of the illusions and dream imagery capitalism creates in commercial spheres, which envelops commodities and gives them an almost magical attraction.
Even though the horror genre often has been reserved for pop culture and amusement parks, we often find artworks in the history of art exploring similar emotions and imagery. In particular contemporary art after pop art holds examples of artists diving into the motifs and narratives of the fear-inducing entertainment machines of pop culture.
In the entertainment industry’s use of horror, fear and delight are interwoven. It is impossible to know if a squeal is a sign of joy or horror. This addictive mix of fear-induced joy is the reason we are willing to pay good money to be scared witless. This exhibition seeks to explore this double character of the frightening and indeterminable. How these mixed emotions are treated within art. Ghosthouse brings artworks together with an unsettling presence and is further dramatized with tricks from the phantasmagoria: light, smoke and an all-encapsulating narrative performance. The horror aspects of the exhibition stage the illusionary and uncanny aspects of art itself.
Ghosthouse will only run by night from 9 pm to 2 am with prebooked tickets and fixed timeslots.
DIS (US), Wilhelm Freddie (DK), Esben Weile Kjær (DK), Adam Christensen (UK), Rolf Nowotny (DK), Rikard Thambert (SE), Vaquera (US), Dorota Gawęda (PL) & Eglė Kulbokaitė (LT), Vitaly Bezpalov (RU), Wendy Jim (AT), Mette Hammer Juhl (DK) & Rose Angel Edwards (UK), Aske Høier Olsen (DK), Roman Ole (DE).
The exhibition is curated by Anna Weile Kjær.
Graphics by Fritz Schiffers.
Photo by Adam Christensen, Smoke Moon, 2020.
Exhibition trailer by Aske Høier Olsen: https://vimeo.com/460581081