The First Year
Stalke Galleri was born in the autumn of 1987. Ever since then, we have held over 300 hundred different exhibitions. Stalke is characterized by four different realms of activity today: Stalke Galleri, Stalke Out Of Space, Stalke Collection.
A small retrospective glance at Stalke:
In 1986, Joachim Rothenborg had an exhibition in Galleri Jedig, which during the period 1982-87 had an exhibition address in Admiralgade in Copenhagen. At this time, Joachim Rothenborg attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City, which provided the occasion for the exhibition: ”New York in Copenhagen”. Here we presented works by young New York artists.
Subsequently, Joachim Rothenborg and I (Sam Jedig) came to a agreement that the time was right for creating an entirely new kind of gallery project. At that time, Copenhagen housed only a handful of fine galleries and in short order, we agreed on creating a gallery space where the chief emphasis would be laid on getting Danish art more internationally known while, at the same time, foreign artists would be invited to Denmark.
The Gallery had to have a name, of couse. And it was named ”Stalke”, taking its name from Tarkovsky’s film ”Stalker” (1980). The title character of the film, Stalker, is the wandering man who symbolizes the free-space between two worlds.
The first exhibitions program was announced, and some of the artists who became connected with Stalke were Torben Ebbesen, Thorbjørn Lausten, Thomas Bang, Mogens Møller, Margrete Sørensen, Dorthe Dahlin. Contemporaneously, coming here from New York, Stalke introduced artists such as William Anastasi, Lawrence Weiner and Michael Goldberg, who thereby established their contact with the Danish art public.
The year following his participation at the Venice Biennial, Jean Francois Octave, from Belgium, became one of the European artists with whom we also began to work with.
Et the close of the eighties, conceptual Art and Minimal Art flourished once again on the art scene and Stalke Focused its strengths on these very tendencies.
The introduction of these idioms in Denmark was linked up with a narrow circle of Danish artists who could find an overall common denominator in Stalke Gallery. All this taken together played a major part in providing the gallery with its special profile.
At Stalke, we became aware of the lack of visibility of Danish art abroad and decided to lead off by taking part at the international art fairs throughout Europe. For example, we can mention: Art Cologne, Art Frankfurt, Hamburg Kunstforum which at that time were some of the leadings art fairs in Europe, and Stalke was the first Gallery in Denmark that took this step on this art fair.
Among several important exhibitions during the first few years, we had the pleasure to open a project by Lawrence Weiner in collaboration with Albert Mertz, followed up by exhibitions by Torben Ebbesen, Thomas Bang, Thorbjørn Lausten, Margrete Sørensen, Alpo Jakola, William Anastasi and Dove Bradshaw.
Due to the upswing and the considerable of attention that Stalke gathered, it was resolved to move to larger and better premises at Vesterbrogade 15.
After four months of overhauling 600 square meters of gallery space, it seemed evident to us that one of the most interesting gallery projects for many years was ready to take off.
Uffe Egekvist and Lone Thomsen began to help actively with many new challenges in the gallery. The opening exhibition at Vesterbrogade was the large exhibition ”MIYÜAN” by Dorte Dahlin.
One of Stalke Gallery´s largest projects that year was Concept Art. It was precisely the close of the eighties that the neo-expressionistic painting was losing its status as ”new wave”, or rather losing its grip on the public, so the time was right for introducing the exhibition Concept Art, which emerged in close cooperation with the German Gallery Brigitte March in Stuttgart.
All in all, eight of the world’s leading conceptual artists participated, and this provided an extraordinarily fine chance to see some of the artists who set the agenda for the sixties and the seventies in international conceptual art. The participating artists were Marcel Broodthaers, Joseph Kosuth, Les Levine, William Anastasi, Lawrence Weiner, On Kawara, Yokuta Matsuzawa and Vincenzo Agnetti. In connection with the exhibition, a huge catalogue was was produced, where Evelyn Weiss from the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and Jan Foncé from Mucha Museum in Antwerp wrote the texts.
In 1988, Joachim Rothenborg chose to pursue other paths. At that time, the gallery was already well-established, and soon Stalke also began to set its focus on the somewhat younger generation.
This took its mark in 1988 / 89, where we exhibited Eva Koch, Ian Schjals followed up by the greater part of the artists from the BAGHUSET Gallery, which had once been located in a backyard building in Copenhagen. From this group, Stalke hosted Lars Bent Petersen, Susan Hinum, Erik Steffensen, Peter Holst Henckel and others, and they were the new generation under strong influence of Albert Mertz from The Royal Academy in Copenhagen. Stalke’s idea behind the exhibition was to allow the experimenting underground artists to test out their strengths in relation to the more established art world.
Thus, Stalke Gallery also became a gathering point for the new generation of artists where the stress was placed upon the neo-conceptual and where questions concerning art’s functions and means were posed, frequently in a minimalist idiom.
In the same period, 1989-90, Stalke also held larger exhibitions with artists who had partially been connected with the 80’s generation. In this connection, what especially comes to mind are exhibitions with Henrik B. Andersen, Per Bak Jensen and Nina Sten-Knudsen. Meanwhile, we took part at the Hamburg Kunstforum with a considerable degree of success. There we had the pleasure of presenting a solo-project with Lawrence Weiner.
In 1990, the Gallery was expanded with Stalke Out Of Space. Outside the traditional frames of the gallery, we could, in a somewhat different and more consistent fashion, accommodate art’s new situation.
With Stalke Out Of Space, we took into account art´s craving for untraditional exhibitions frames, as well as for innovative promotion. Several galleries around the world had realized during these years that the ”exhibition´s-space” and thus the form would have to be altered in order to keep pace with the art works´multifaceted expressions. One example of these galleries was Gallery Daniel Buchholz in Cologne.
During the winter of 1990, Stalke presented the exhibition “Tilbageblik” (Retrospection), an exhibition which was intendend to mark an entrance to the Stalke Out Of Space notion. With genuine carpet, prismatic chandeliers, mahogany writing desk and old lamps, the exhibition space was transformed into one large installation. The works were hung in the same spirit as the old salon hanging, with the artists´ work blended among one other, all the way from floor to ceiling.
On of the important project in the period 1991-93 was Paradise Europe which came into being through a collaboration with Biz Art.
Paradise Europe was a project that involved several international galleries from New York, Rome and Cologne. Stalke took part with Olafur Eliasson, Lars Bent Petersen Michael Elmgreen and Henrik Olesen.
Olafur Eliasson was very close to Stalke from the beginning with a lot of energy and ideas in this period, and he was also invited into another project in cooporation with BAGHUSET at Stockholm Art Fair in cooperation with Stalke Out of Space in March 1991. Here the Baghuset artists presented a provocative installation where the art fair also became an integral part of the artistic practice. The following artists from BAGHUSET took part: Jes Brinch, Peter Holst Henckel, Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen, Peter Neuchs, Peter Rössell and Joachim Koester. Moreover, Michael Elmgreen, Henrik Olesen, Eva Larsson, Christine Melchiors and Olafur Eliasson.
The project also became an important signal for many of Stalke´s activities thereafter.
Henceforth, the Stalke showroom settled down into a smaller premise, while Stalke Out Of Space expanded outwardly.
This was a very inspiring period, where a creative prosperity could be sensed among the younger generation of artists. Stalke, thereby, had the pleasure of being able to place itself once again in the middle of the art debate.
Among other Stalke Out Of Space projects dating from this period, 17: 00 CET ought to be mentioned (Curator Olafur Eliasson). This event featured works by Lars Bent Petersen, Anne Kristin Lislegaard, Elmgreen/Olesen, Joachim Koester, Christine Melchiors and Olafur Eliasson himself.
At Art Cologne, we presented William Anastasi and Torben Ebbesen.
Antoher project which was set into mention took place at Gammel DOK in Copenhagen, This was a project by Chuck Collings, from the United States.
At Stalke Showroom, we exhibited, among others, Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen, Dove Bradshaw and William Anastasi, the latter with his very insistent and original project: I OWN WAR.
During the period 1994-95, there was again a need for expanding Stalkes´s permanent gallery space and this was satisfied with the occupation of new premises located just across the street at Vesterbrogade, measuring a total of 500 square meters.
After tree months of hard work with restoring the premises, the new underground space was ready. In February 1994, all of Stalke´s activities were gathered together under one roof.
Soon thereafter, Olafur Eliasson Eliasson, Lars Bent Petersen, Jes Brinch and Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen had their first solo exhibition in the new premises.
After following the course of Stalke’s evolution as well as visual art in general over a long period of time, Kim Bendixen resolved to invest his energy in the gallery and hereafter, exhibitions were planed with, among others, Nils Erik Gjerdevik, Hans Peterson, Frans Jacobi, Torben Ebbesen, William Anastasi, Lars Mathisen, just to mention few.
In January 1996, the Stalke exhibition ”Coming Up” came up. Once again, an exhibition that provided an interesting ”break” in an otherwise more far-reaching sequence of exhibitions. Each member of a chosen group from the already established 90´s generation whom Stalke was exhibiting – or had previously exhibited – was invited to select one younger artist of the same age. Not with the intention of defining the impossible, but more for the purpose of showing the public where visual art might possibly be heading in the nearest future. In this exhibition, Tal R, Nikolaj Recke, Claus Andersen, Anika Ström, Niels Bonde, Simone Aaberg Kern were invited.
At the same time, Copenhagen was now more active than ever with a lot of new alternative projectspaces and many new galleries growing up in Copenhagen, e.g. Nikolaj Walner and many of the more established galleries. These galleries took a new structure to protect themselves against future. And they realized that the 80s were definitively gone.
In 1996, William Anastasi, with whom Stalke had collaborated from the very beginning, presented his largest exhibition in Europe to date. This took place in collaboration with Anders Tornberg in Sweden and Stalke Galleri. At the exhibition, we showed works from the period 1964-1996.
In 1996, Stalke, together with Galleri Specta, participated in Art Cologne, providing Peter Rössell´s largest solo presentation outside Denmark until then. During the same year, yet another ”younger” project was realized, this time with selected artists from Galleri NEU in Berlin.
In 1997, Stalke visited Stockholm and took part in the year’s Art Fair with Nils Erik Gjerdevik.
The next international event in 1997 brought Stalke to Art Forum Berlin, in collaboration with Frans Jacobi and Nils Erik Gjerdevik.
Copenhagen became one of the most important art centers in Europe. Olafur Eliasson had already moved to Berlin, and now on, every art magazine around the world was now looking up to the North.
During this period, Stalke held over 50 different shows in the young program, while still providing room for exhibitions connected to the old gallery program.
Frans Jacobi, Olafur Eliasson, Kaj Nyborg, Eske Kath, Nikolaj Recke, Nils Erik Gjerdevik, Klaus Thejl, Hans Peterson, Kristian Hornsleth and many others took part in this energy through Stalke Galleri and Stalke Out Of Space and soon all became well-established.
Duirng the same period, Stalke Gallery also introduced new artists from abroad, for instance William Anthony, Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Gunnar Örn, Christoph Dreager, Michael Coughlan, and Susan Walder – just to mention a few.
A new project was born in 2002: the introduction of a new gallery, Galleri Kirke Sonnerup, a different kind of exhibition space. The gallery is located in the small village of Kirke Sonnerup, in an area of natural beauty between the two towns Holbæk and Roskilde in the central part of Zealand.
The first exhibition was a large, retrospective exhibition (1987-2002). Later, we showed Olafur Eliasson, William Anthony, Albert Mertz, and Anne Bennike.
After many good years as a co-owner of Stalke Gallery, Kim Bendixen decided to open his own gallery space. Consequently, Stalke Gallery and the entire administration are now run from the Kirke Sonnerup premises and is based on two exhibition programs.
As a powerful supplement to the Galleri, we have introduced the Stalke Collection. A part of this collection will be exhibited from time to time. Stalke Collection consists of works from the 60s to the present and represents almost every artist there has exhibited in Stalke from the very beginning.
Stalke Edition is a large print collection of graphic works by many of the exhibited artists. We have produced works by William Anastasi, Dove Bradshaw, Olafur Eliasson, Nikolaj Recke just to mention few.
Our goal today is that Stalke Galleri shall form an interesting alternative to already existing art institutions and be an active participant on Denmark´s art scene - a free zone.
GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER; GUYS
10 years in Stalke Gallery
Olafur Eliasson(OE): Is it rolling ?
Frans Jacobi (FJ): Yeah
OE: In ´83, I was down at Sam, for the first time. It was then that he had Galleri Jedig, before Stalke opened. I had brought some drawings along, with ornaments, and I belive he was the first gallerist who actually looked at my works. Nothing really happened, but I got to know him.
FJ: About my first contact with Sam and Stalke, I can only remember that in ´84-85, there was a Gallery in Nørregade called Subset. It ran for a little while and then it vanished. Sam took over the premises and made the first Stalke (Stalke Project – editors,s note) down there in this cellar. It was one of the first places where anyone tried to show something other than the neo-expressionist painting that was otherwise all over the place.
OE: When I met Sam, I guess I was busy – mainly – with the neoexpressionist painting myself. When Stalke project opened in Nørregade I had stopped being interested in art. I was doing something else. I was dancing Break Dance.
OE: But I had still kept in touch somehow with Sam, so when he moved to Vesterbrogade in ´88, I started to work for him. For example, I took part in the overhauling of the premises. It was about that time that I started at the Academy, and I wanted to know just what a gallery was. I really don’t know how much I learned.
FJ: At a certain time, I showed Sam my drawings. And he bought some of them. There was a completely different kind of enthusiasm for my things than I was used to running into and this did make an impression on me. Later on, he had several of my things on consignment, among these being my concrete television. When I was going to pick it up, because I had to utilize it in another context, the Gallery´s premises had become converted into a Video shop. The further down into the cellar you went, the more pornographic flicks there were. In the very last of the cellar´s rooms, the walls were covered with hard-core video cassettes. And there he had placed my televisions up in the middle... it looked pretty wild!
Stalke Out Of Space
OE: In the beginning of the 90´s when Sam began to define ”Stalke Out Of Space”,
I was living in USA. Specifically, in New York. For a short time, I worked at a gallery and what occurred to me was what a huge difference there was between galleries. The things that Sam had going with ”Stalke Out Of Space” was totally fluid thing – it had a totally fluid structure – and anyway, it wasn´t a gallery at all in the conventional sense. I wasn´t sure what I really thought about this; sometimes it was just crap, at other times, I was impressed.
FJ: When the first Stalke opened up, there was an attempt to go about things in a very strategic way, but I thought that the gallery became more interesting when Sam found other ways to run it – with project out of town, etc., and only with an office.
OE: yeah, he got there early. The project was very personal for him, since he wanted to break the things down. The wish was not theoretically defined; he didn´t want to break down an institutional system. No, the wish was personal. He wanted to work with the gallery structure in an alternative way.
FJ: During that period, Sam talked a lot about his personal development in connection with the gallery. The gallery was more a personal than a business enterprise.
OE: He made a couple of projects, for instance by renting a space. And every now and then, this actually worked out quite well. He also made an exhibition down in the old premise in Nørregade: It was called 17:00 CET, withLars Bent Petersen, Ann Kristin Lislegaard, Joachim Koester, Michael Elmgreen, Henrik Olesen, Christine Melchiors and myself.
FJ: That´s interesting, because in Copenhagen, there’s been a long tradition that artists themselves create their own projects here and there. Sam was the first gallerist who experimented in the same way.
OE: At about that time, I moved to Germany, and I was very critical of the gallery. It was interesting that the gallery structure was so fluid, but he didn´t take it anywhere. Then in Cologne, I could see that galleries in general went through a decline after the eighties, both an existential and economic decline. They began to experiment, which Sam had been doing for a long time. For instance, Daniel Buchholz closed down the gallery and opened up some other small project-spaces around town. It was then that it occurred to me that Sam had gotten hold of something that was right on.
Domestic / Foreign
FJ: As an artist who is working with the gallery, you can run up against a conflict. Partly because you want a gallery that occupies itself in a concentrated way with your works and partly because even though it is interesting with a creative gallery like Stalke, the creative does certainly dampen the traditional working of a gallery.
OE: It´s for sure that Sam didn´t want to represent the artists in the classical way. And that´s probably the reason why he has been able to survive for such la ong time and in such a fine style; he hasn´t had to bear the responsibility of keeping people alive. As it functions now, this is the first time that they have been able to combine working closely together with the artist while simultaneously maintaining a personal approach.
FJ: Yeah, a free-scope, for doing other things on the side. Of course, it also has to do with time and energy. Now that Kim has come into it, it means that there is much more...
Taxi Driver: Are you going to the domestic or the foreign?
At a certain time, I was talking to a German gallerist. He had had a gallery for a number of years, a gallery that he had been running very strategically, very shrewdly, and with great deal of success. He said that he wanted to start doing what he really wanted to do most: he would exhibit that which he thought was funny and which interested him personally. I told him that I knew somebody, namely Sam, who had been doing that ever since he started out – non-programmatically (that´s also probably the gallery has never made any kind of international breakthrough). For better or worse, Sam has been exhibiting what he thought was interesting. He has been basically indifferent to reception of it, and at the same time he has acquired an overview. This inspires credibility.
FJ: Where were we ?
OE: It´s very interesting to see how Stalke fill out a place in Copenhagen with the artists that the gallery represents.
FJ: At the end of the eighties, Stalke was centrally situated, and after that it moved off to the sidelines. Now different circumstances have endowed it with a central position once again. This of course, is because of the gallery, but it also has to do with random current on the scene, where the energy gets moved around a little bit.
OE: I think this has to do with how a gallery fulfils a function within a given art-system.
FJ: It begins to be important for the artist to have a gallery in Copenhagen. For me, by way of example, it hasn´t been necessary before, since I was arranging things myself. In Berlin, where I also work now, it´s quite practical to have a gallery for taking care of arranging things for you. In a system like Germany, if you have a gallery, everything becomes easier. The same thing is about to happen in Copenhagen, It´s hip to have a gallery, especially because the attention focused on our generation, both from the Danish institutions and from abroad, has increased. How the gallery operates now is becoming crucial to us –whether it fulfils the function for which we need it. Previously, it wasn´t necessary to have a gallery that worked for you.
OE: No, and it wasn´t so long ago that the galleries were something autonomous that ran along another track than that of the artist. Now it seems to be more integrated. I hope that Stalke can keep on progressing in the direction; that is, representing the artist as well as making ordinary gallery work and simultaneously keeping a visionary platform.
FJ: It´s a balancing act. The gallery is going through a phase now where something new is about to happen. For some of the artists, things have really started to move, and I hope that the gallery goes into this situation and can live up to it. At the same time, it’s also important to sustain the creativity. It´s just fine that you can come with a peculiar project and there´s always an openess towards it. Most of the galleries run things much more rigidly.
OE: It´s OK, to run a gallery with a program that´s not completely homogenous. It´s not necessary that all the artists work out from the same ideas.
FJ: That has been a plus with Stalke, in contradiction to Galleri Nikolai Wallner, where the artist represent one specific generation. Stalke has several generations as well as several attitudes involved, and this offers a certain freedom.
OE: In theory, a ”program gallery” must involve that the exhibition you are making will be read in relation to the program. I think that one has to create a balance where he takes part in creating a language rather than taking part in unravelling a language.
FJ: Of course, there’s also the danger of landing in the opposite ditch, where everything becomes too loose. I do feel that you can criticize Stalke for having swung widely to the east and to the west at different periods. It’s really best when there’s a line.
List of shortcommings
OE: I think things are going to go well for Stalke. Not so much because of what is structural in the gallery, but more because of the personal commitment that both Kim and Sam have.
Taxi Driver: Where are we going?
OE: We’re going to Kongens Nytorv.
FJ: At the moment, there´s a nice feeling down there, of surplus, it looks good.
FJ: that was actually extremely positive.
OE: What can we say in conclusion?
FJ: Now, you’ll just have to get your act together, guys.
OE: Yes, I really think they should buy a new fax. It never works. Haven’t you noticed that?
FJ: Yes, and some prettier stationery.
OE: Yeah, for sure.
FJ: And then they might change the toner in the copy machine sometime.
OE: Should we make up a list of all the shortcomings? Well, they’ll also have to listen to the answering machine every day, though I do belive they finally are doing that.. by now. We’re going to Laksegade. Straight, please. It crosses Bremerholm.
FJ: And then they’ll have to learn that there´s got to be enough beer at the openings. It just doesn’t work if they run dry halfway through.
OE: That’s pretty funny. There are never many people showing up at my openings. There’s difference between us, Frans.
FJ: It may well just be that my friends are drinking too much.
OE: And then, to the left here. It´s because there are many more people showing up at your openings.
FJ: For the last few openings, there have actually been a lot.
OE: Yeah, and then to the right here, then we´re there right away.
Olafur Eliasson and Frans Jacobi