Henrik Olesen. Abandon the Parents | x-rummet

23 May 2014 – 28 September 2014

An abundance of paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, books, words, and sounds fill the x-rummet venue, establishing surprising connections and creating new narratives. The rich and complex accumulation of objects explores and interprets the process of emancipation and independence that may – or may not – happen in the life of an andolescent leaving his or her parents to seek out new values.

The Danish artist Henrik Olesen has invited two long-term collaborators, friends, and gallerists – Daniel Buchholz and Christopher Müller – to join him in curating the exhibition Abandon the Parents in x-rummet. Here, they present an overwhelming collection of paintings, books, photographs, videos, sounds, and drawings created by Ariane Müller, Judith Scott, Lutz Bacher, Jean Genet, Richard Hawkins, Dieter Roth, Zoe Leonard, Lili Elbe, Arthur Köpcke, Kristian Zarthman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Hannah Hoech, Henriette Heise, Gerry Bibby, Albert Mertz and Galerie Krise from Berlin.

See a selection of the works on display

The exhibition presents a collection of approximately 250 objects, together creating new meaning and significance by entering into alternative connections. The exhibition acts as a single, vast collage that offers one possible take on the process of identity-building that we all experience in our lives. Abandon the Parents explores the borderland that all human beings occupy when we leave behind the familiar – our “parents” – to venture out into unknown territory in search of our identity.

© Photo from the exhibition: Judith Scott, Untitled, 2003 and Lukas Duwenhögger, Probleema, 1995, and Henriette Heise, Tv-video, 1997. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

A personal starting point for a universal narrative

The combination of works presented here springs from the three curators’ personal process of exploration – they have selected works, stories, and artists in which they frame a space that contextualizes artistic production and self-organization. Adressing the decisive moments in the construction of an identity. The exhibition presents three interwoven homosexual autobiographies, but it also points to the mechanisms, desires, and intuitions that serve as the building blocks for our identities as human beings.

Many of the artists featured in the exhibition have served as important guiding lights for Olesen’s own artistic endeavours. They are role models and sources of inspiration that have shaped his artistic work and his search for his own identity.

Read more about Henrik Olesen


While the exhibition takes a personal point of departure, the complex collection of artefacts in x-rummet also conveys a universal narrative about the search for and construction of identity that we are all undergoing all the time.

A challenging exhibition

Abandon the Parents rethinks the classical exhibition format and challenges the autonomy of the work of art. In this exhibition all works are of equal value. Regardless of whether they happen to be copies, originals, history paintings, letters, or sound recordings. All works have meaning and significance, and they are all important components in relating the story of self-empowerment, of making a break with the past in a quest of new values.

In this way, Abandon the Parents eschews the museum’s usual art historical perspective, offering up an alternative art history that is formulated from a subjective perspective, based on a homosexual life experience.

Read more about the exhibition and explore the art works in the publication about the exhibition

© Photo from the exhibition: Vincent Fecteau, Untitled, 2006 and Jeanne Mamman, Totem und Tabou, c. 1971 and Richard Hawkins, First Appearance of the Ancestor Spirit, Medicine Man Clarence 'Beace Butcher' Hawkins (1760's). Photo: Anders Sune Berg

New exhibition series in x-rummet

x-rummet is the SMK’s experimental venue for contemporary art. Since 2001 the x-rummet has offered its walls, floor, and ceiling up for e.g. invisible labyrinths, pink castles, huge installations, and interactive video narratives.

Who is featured in x-rummet?

Twice a year, one or more artists are invited to create an exhibition especially for x-rummet. Potential contributors may be Danish artists who have not yet presented a major exhibition in Denmark, or international artists who have not previously been presented on Danish soil.

Exhibitions that challenge

The new exhibition series in x-rummet covers a three-year span, 2013-2016, and explores the museum concept in the 21st century.

The series will investigate the work done by numerous different artists and will expand aspects of classic museum practices: e.g. the act of collecting, ordering, and presenting objects and the ways in which art history is written.

Henrik Olesen’s exhibition Abandon the Parents is the second instalment of the new x-rummet series.

Watch a film about x-rummet