Spaced Out?

Spaced Out?

The Danish artist Jakob Kolding grew up in Albertslund, a suburb on the outskirts of Copenhagen. His memories of childhood in a rigorously planned suburbia are more positive than one might think since "there were many playgrounds and football fields". Now, as an adult he takes a critical view of the monotonous functionalism of the "La Villettes" of this world and has made it a theme of his artistic work. It revolves around urban and suburban life and its form, around the discrepancies between a priori humanistic and philanthropic and their loss when they take the form of modernist towns. Kolding observes the effects that housing blocks and dormitory ghettos have, particularly on the lives of young people who live there. And he observes how creatively and imaginatively the hip-hop generation encounters architectonic authorities, how the federation of skaters of the world captures free spaces and makes the concrete melt with benign individual anarchy.

Kolding's social topographies of public space are played out in large-format collages which bring together text and images from such diverse fields as architecture, art, politics, music, comics and sport. Their form is reminiscent of the agitprop of the Russian constructivists, the montage technique of the Dadaists and record covers of the Sex Pistols. Kolding, a master of dynamic arrangements, samples the phenomena of leisure culture, social power relationships and the clash of ways of life into a psycho-geography of places which are scrambled on the computer and then rearranged. Flanked by the zones of politics, advertising and economics, Kolding's collages cut across the strict pattern of planning and control: the artist at the mixing desk of urban representation.

Additive juxtaposition is a basic principle of "Spaced Out?" From one billboard to the next Kolding fills out a hypermodern urban quarter, or empties it in a reversed image. Luxury apartments are planned, CAD programs simulate the design and urbanistic location of the new housing block. Even if construction has not been started, cameras monitor the expensive site, ball games are forbidden and the spraying of graffiti in any case. Security guards watch over executives on mobile phones and the Vuitton handbag of an elegant lady. The many notices of what is forbidden point to the latent fear of public space becoming appropriated by youngsters and similar "subcultures". Exclusion and suppression mechanisms are the preconditions for successful gentrification of urban space, which for Kolding is also always a social space. "Spaced Out?" poses the question of who the city belongs to, and the answer is clear.

Serial processes and arrangements which supplement each other into a whole are characteristic of artistic directions such as pop, minimal and conceptual art. Kolding, a well-versed connoisseur of electronic music, is interested in the analogies between the processes of art and the regular, hardly varied acoustic units of current sound landscapes. His procedure is similarly methodical, orderly and systematic. However, what is absolutely modern and of its time about his strategy is the fact that Kolding takes the situations deadly seriously for so long until their structure lies bare. What then follows is the demand for a remix.