Friday 20 January is, as you are no doubt aware, the day of the official inauguration of a certain Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. It was also meant to be the day when Kunsthal Aarhus would open exhibitions featuring two prominent contemporary artists: Thomas Hirschhorn and Cécile B. Evans. At the behest of the two artists, Kunsthal Aarhus now joins the international Art Strike #J20 day, an initiative launched by artists and art historians such as Cindy Sherman, Richard Serra, Barbara Kruger, Lucy Lippard and Hal Foster. Like a range of American galleries and institutions, particularly in the New York area, Kunsthal Aarhus will remain closed on the day of the inauguration of the new president of the USA.
Instead of hosting an opening event for the two exhibitions, “the artists wish to create a moment of intermission that can be used for reflection,” states a press release issued by the venue. “Kunsthal Aarhus will donate the money usually spent on catering opening events to a charity that cares for marginalised groups in society.”
The press release also includes statements from the two artists.
Thomas Hirschhorn: “I will do Art Strike because, as an artist, I know that Art – all Art of all times and all places – crosses borders. That Art – all Art of all times and all places – addresses a non-exclusive audience in all circumstances. That Art – all Art of all times and all places – never builds walls, never establishes borders or imagines separations. Art is inclusive. Art, because it’s Art, is universal. Universality means Justice, Equality, the Other, Truth. I want to remain truthful. I will do Art Strike tomorrow in solidarity with all my artist friends from America and abroad who do Art Strike, with all my art-historian and art-critic friends from America and abroad who do Art Strike, and with all my gallery friends, institutions and art space friends from America and abroad who do Art Strike. I want to signify: You are not alone and I know: I am not alone.”
Cécile B. Evans: “The opening event has been closed in solidarity with those taking action against threats made by the incoming administration in the US and corresponding intimidations within Europe- which I now call home. I’m grateful to Kunsthalle Aarhus for their support in this decision, and their agreement to use the funds and energy that would have been spent celebrating our exhibitions to offer a moment to think about our commitment to meaningful, long term change. What can I do? Where I’m from: American Civil Liberties Union, Families For Freedom. Where I live: The National Council for Civil Liberties, North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), The Centre for Better Health. Recommended in Denmark: Venligboerne, Kvindehuset, Sabaah, SIND. I’ll be thinking with you through this difficult day and am excited for your visit to the new exhibitions from January 21st.”
The exhibitions featuring Hirschhorn and Evans are part of Kunsthal Aarhus’ major initiatives that coincide with this weekend’s grand launch of Aarhus as European Capital of Culture 2017. Now, they will remain inaccessible to audiences until the venue reopens on Saturday, 21 January at 12 noon.