Henrik Olesen. Abandon the Parents | x-rummet

23 May 2014 – 28 September 2014

An abundance of paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, books, words, and sounds filled the x-rummet venue, established surprising connections and created new narratives. The rich and complex accumulation of objects explored and interpreted 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 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 presented 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 there where on display

The exhibition presented a collection of approximately 250 objects, which together created new meaning and significance by entering into alternative connections. The exhibition acted as a single, vast collage that offered one possible take on the process of identity-building that we all experience in our lives. Abandon the Parents explored 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 in the exhibition arose from the three curators’ personal process of exploration – they had selected works, stories, and artists in which they framed a space that contextualized artistic production and self-organization. Adressing the decisive moments in the construction of an identity. The exhibition presented three interwoven homosexual autobiographies, but it also pointed 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 took a personal point of departure, the complex collection of artefacts in x-rummet also conveyed 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 rethought the classical exhibition format and challenged the autonomy of the work of art. In this exhibition all works were of equal value. Regardless of whether they happen to be copies, originals, history paintings, letters, or sound recordings. All works had meaning and significance, and they were 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 eschewed the museum’s usual art historical perspective, and offered an alternative art history that was formulated from a subjective perspective, based on a homosexual life experience.

© 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 was the second instalment of the new x-rummet series.

Watch a film about x-rummet