© Henrik Olesen, How do I make myself a body (7), 2007.

About Henrik Olesen

Henrik Olesen creates works and exhibitions that challenge power structures and history writing. He focuses particular attention on how homosexuality is perceived, presented, and discriminated against.

The Danish artist Henrik Olesen was born in 1967 Esbjerg and now lives and works in Berlin. Throughout his career he has worked with a nuanced perception of identity politics as viewed from a gay man’s perspective.

In his works Olesen questions a range of power relations and how our common history is written. He has a particular interest in examining how homosexuality is represented. In subtle, subdued, frequently poetic ways he formulates a critique against oppressive, discriminating limitations on free individual expression.

In his work Olesen often incorporates documentary materials, factual references to legislation on homosexuality, and photographs of paintings from art history. His archival, documenting practice and fascination with how identity is constructed was also evident in his exhibition for x-rummet.

Read about the exhibition Abandon the Parents


Henrik Olesen is a graduate from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany. He has exhibited his work at e.g. MoMa, Malmö Konsthall, and Kunstmuseum Basel and SMK.

© Henrik Olesen, How do I make myself a body (7), 2007.

© Henrik Olesen, How do I make myself a body (7), 2007.

Olesen in the SMK collections

Olesen’s work is also featured in the SMK’s permanent display of Danish and International Art after 1900. Here you can get close to the work entitled How do I make myself a body? (7). The work is typical of Olesen’s artistic endeavours insofar as it focuses on the construction of identity, politics, and history writing.

The work consists of a series of treated and modified prints that relate the story of the groundbreaking mathematician Alan Turing. Turing devised the binary system, thereby creating the basis for the evolution of computer science. However, this otherwise highly estimated mathematician met a tragic end. In 1952 he was arrested for having engaged in a homosexual relationship and was forced to undergo oestrogen treatment in order to avoid prison. In 1954 he was found dead after having eaten an apple poisoned with cyanide.