x-rummet is the SMK's experimental venue for contemporary art.
Since 2001 the x-rummet venue has lent its walls, floor, and ceiling to e.g. invisible labyrinths, pink castles, huge installation pieces, and interactive video narratives.
Who is featured in x-rummet?
Twice a year the SMK invites young Danish artists who have not yet staged major exhibitions in Denmark – or international artists whose work has not yet been presented on Danish soil – to create an exhibition specifically for the x-rummet venue.
A three-year exhibition series
Haim Steinbach’s exhibition The Window was the first in a new series of exhibitions at x-rummet that explored the museum concept in the 21st century. They address the raison d’etre, function, and impact of the museum institution.
Haim Steinbach’s exhibition was named after the window in x-rummet. A large, narrow aperture located in the corner of the room, this window marks a break with our habitual expectations of windows, meaning that the view beyond – the section of reality framed by the window – is experienced in a different way.
Haim Steinbach. The Window | x-rummet
15 November 2013 – 23 February 2014
What are quirky salt and pepper shakers doing next to some of the main masterpieces of art history? Haim Steinbach is deeply interested in objects and how they are displayed. In this exhibition he challenged our perception of the art museum as an institution by showing important works of art side by side with small everyday objects.
In his works Haim Steinbach arranges objects from all sorts of contexts on shelves and walls and in display units. In fact we all collect things and place them next to each other – on a windowsill, the kitchen worktop, or a bathroom shelf. On a previous occasion Steinbach has explained that he regards the act of collecting and displaying things as a fundamental human practice:
"With my work, the bottom line is that any time you set an object next to another object you´re involved in a communicative, social activity."
Download the publication about the exhibition as PDF (Danish and English version)
Art seen in a new context
Haim Steinbach includes works of art from different eras and genres in his exhibition, presenting them in a way that is completely different from the usual approach taken by museums, which typically display art in accordance with chronological, thematic, or monographic principles. By making a break with those principles Steinbach creates a whole new context:
"The museum is about classification and the building is an architectural institution. It is a public space, a framework for thinking and seeing. A framework may be useful to structure thinking, and it can also be restrictive. The idea is to design a shift in the framework in terms of the display, its structure and materials."
A painting full of meaning
One of the central objects in the exhibition is Henri Matisse’s painting Interior with a Violin from 1918. Steinbach says about this painting:
"It is a fantastic painting from our own time; it is about inside and outside, object and sound. I have a very close personal relationship with this painting: it shows a room in the south of France on the Mediterranean sea. I once lived in a similar room, back when I was a child in Israel; the window had the exact same shutters, and the painting perfectly captures the Mediterranean light!"
Steinbach’s personal relationship with Matisse’s painting is just one of the many meanings that this artwork carries with it. The painting – like the other artworks belonging to the museum – has hung on the walls of private homes, been publicly exhibited, and put into storage before ultimately becoming part of the collection at the SMK where this art has, in turn, been perceived and interpreted in many different ways over time.
See the other works from the museum’s collection featured in the exhibition
In addition to paintings, sculptures, and a video installation from the SMK’s own collections Steinbach also included four of his own works – all of them based on existing objects, texts, and materials – as well as salt and pepper shakers collected from amongst the museum staff.
Salt shakers as museum exhibits
By juxtaposing important works of art with everyday objects and domestic bric-a-brac Steinbach shows how all these things are in fact “just” objects that exist in the world.
Because these salt and pepper shakers are usually part of what Steinbach calls "the domestic reality" of people associated with the museum they effectively link up the private sphere with the professional sphere of the workplace. The salt and pepper shakers are in daily use, used as decorative element, have been bought on trips abroad, received as gifts, or been part of their childhood homes. In this sense they, like Henri Matisse’s masterpiece, always carry meanings from former contexts with them.
New exhibition series at x-rummet
Haim Steinbach was the perfect choice for opening the new exhibition series at x-rummet. In the series a range of artists will explore and expand aspects of classic museum practices, e.g. the ways in which objects are collected, arranged, and displayed and how art history is written.
When Steinbach selected works from the museum’s collections, presented and juxtaposed them in ways that no museum professional or art historian would ever do, he pointed to the potential other meanings that all artworks hold within; potential that can be unleashed through new constellations and presentations. As he puts it:
"I like to say that I aim to interfere with the order of things. My goal is to find other ways of ordering things."
Haim Steinbach in brief
Haim Steinbach was born in Israel in 1944. In 1957 Haim Steinbach, together with his family, immigrated to New York, where he completed his art education and continues to live and work today. From the late 1970s onwards he has been a key exponent of art based on existing objects.
Steinbach had his debut in 1969 and has exhibited his work at a range of major exhibition venues across the world from the 1980s onwards. In 1991 he contributed to the Venice Biennial, and in 2000 he had a major solo show at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. A comprehensive retrospective of his work was shown at the CCS Bard Hessel Museum in the state of New York in 2013. In 2014 he will be featured at Kunsthalle Zürich.
Steinbach is represented by the galleries Lia Rumma in Milan, Tanya Bonakdar in New York, Dvir Gallery in Tel Aviv, Laurent Godin in Paris, and White Cube in London.