Kjed Kjeldsen is curator at the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art and the driving force behind the Living Exhibition
The question of how people live in the city or in nature is a constant recurring theme in Arne Quinze's work. Kjeld Kjeldsen, curator at the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art, is fascinated by the way he tries to answer this question. For the Living exposition, an exhibition focusing on the theme of housing in all of its aspects, the artist built My Home My House My Stilthouse.
AQ: With My Home My House My Stilthouse I investigate what "home" really means and I try to find my own position in it. As a child you build your first house by crawling under the table and covering it up with a blanket. In this way you get access to your first very own universe nobody is allowed to enter. In the next phase you grow up and you suddenly don't want to walk around naked anymore. This is another boundary people impose on themselves. They put on clothes in order to stop feeling vulnerable. In the following phase you actually build a real house, you put up walls around you. It's fascinating to see how buildings and cities are formed and how the planning of these is subject to an evolution throughout time as well as to an evolution between different cultures. Not only do people put up walls around them for protection, but they also want to create a certain distance between themselves and others. When laying out a garden, the first thing people do is putting up a fence around it in order to mark it off. That's why I overemphasize the scale of the fences forming part of the installation than they would be in real life. As soon as people possess something the term "mine" becomes extremely important in marking the ownership of their commodities. My Home, My Garden… The letters I write on my installation form a substantial part in underlining this principle, in one single sentence I scream out what's mine and what's not yours.
I got acquainted with your work for the first time via magazines under the form of Uchronia, a sculpture you made for the Burning Man festival (a yearly festival organized in the Nevada desert, USA). Shortly after that I visited you in Rouen during the construction of Camille. Then it became clear to me that you also put big installations in an urban context, a concept that perfectly harmonizes with the Living exposition. It is an exposition dealing with themes such as housing, accommodation and creating a home with crossovers between art, architecture and anthropology. Suddenly My Home My House My Stilthouse turned out to be a metaphor for everything that the exposition comprises, it is art, it is architecture, it asks questions and makes us think about how we live and organize housing. And so the discussion about what to do in the future starts. We return to the base, young architects investigate other ways to build than say ten years ago.
AQ: Exactly this development made me start constructing Stilthouses. In a certain sense they reflect the human existence possessing long legs being very fragile but they survive every situation and adjust to the circumstances and surroundings they are exposed to. Orange-red beams are integrated in the construction on purpose giving the sculptures even more human features. The primitive finishing work is intentionally as I expect to incite people to start dreaming about their lives themselves.
That is another focus point of this exposition, the dream you can have about living. Although this colour heavily contrasts with the green surroundings, it harmonizes with it at the same time. A dialogue originates between nature and sculpture.
AQ: Normally you're not allowed to touch the art in museums, but in this case you're supposed to walk through the various parts of the installation and touch it: you have to feel it. This small Secret Garden, and actually the entire installation, forms part of My Safe Garden, my secure space I create for myself. I got inspiration for My Safe Garden when I was asked to paint a series for an exposition as an ode to impressionism. When I was young and I laid my eyes upon the paintings of Claude Monet he made in his garden in Giverny, I was already excited back then and felt as if I was blown away into another universe. The more that I worked on this series, the more I lost myself in my thoughts and that is how I discovered my inner garden. Each and every one of us has a suchlike secret garden, even though it most often exists inside the head. This forms part of my soul and my fantasy, thoughts that others don't get hold of or can't take part in. That's why I place my garden in reality on a platform: nobody can enter.