One year has gone by since Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the first COVID-19 lockdown of Denmark. The anniversary is marked by a new outdoor exhibition jointly arranged by SMK
, Coop, Danish Red Cross and Hjaltelin Stahl. Here, three leading artists present three entirely new works of art created as a response to the pandemic.
A giant laptop. A sentence spelled out in recycled bricks. And a video collage featuring hands, elbow bumps and socially distanced meetings.
In a new outdoor exhibition, the three artists Benedikte Bjerre, Kaspar Bonnén and Sonja Lillebæk Christensen each offer their take on an artistic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition opens one year after Denmarks first lockdown due to the coronavirus and the works are displayed in the museum garden in front of SMK National Gallery of Denmark, where all interested parties are free to drop by any time.
Throughout history, epidemics have ravaged societies and changed lives. Often, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists have created artistic testimonies that have helped us to understand, many years later, how these times of crisis affected the people who lived through them. We hope that the works featured in this exhibition, created by three prominent contemporary artists, will serve a similar function, offering lenses through which to view and understand this year of coronavirus; time when solidarity and isolation became two sides of the same coin, says Mikkel Bogh, director of SMK.
Created as part of the project Touched, the three works of art are intended to remind us of how we have reached out to each other during difficult times, giving a helping hand where we could, and to reflect how our everyday lives have been fundamentally different this past year. The project was created as a partnership between Danish Red Cross, Coop, Hjaltelin Stahl Part of Accenture Interactive and SMK.
The past twelve months have been all about very concrete, hands-on challenges for us at Coop: our employees have worked hard to ensure the supply of food and everyday articles for the people of Denmark and to maintain a safe environment for customers. That is why it gives us great pleasure to also be able to contribute to these artistic interpretations of the pandemic, says Lasse Bolander, Chairman of the Board at Coop.
Helping hands to the most vulnerable
Last year, the project Touched gave everyone the opportunity to upload a picture of their hand and share their thoughts about the corona pandemic on the website berørt.dk. For each hand uploaded, Coop donated DKK 5 to the Red Cross, all proceeds going directly towards helping those most vulnerable and most affected by the pandemic in Denmark and abroad.
COVID-19 made us particularly busy in Red Cross in the past year, with many people in need of our aid. Coops contribution to the Touched project has helped us support vulnerable people where they need it for example by helping us build the aid network PARAT, which many thousands of Danes signed up for in just a few weeks. Through this network, vulnerable people who find themselves isolated can get help with practical tasks such as grocery shopping, says Anders Ladekarl, Secretary General of the Danish Red Cross.
The uploaded images of hands and accompanying thoughts on the pandemic were subsequently passed on to the three artists, who each drew inspiration from this content prior to creating their own COVID-19-themed art.
The three works of art now being presented are the culmination of a project that is very close to my heart. They will stand as physical monuments where friends and families can come together and remember all that we went through during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this project, we want to show that even though you need to keep your distance, on an emotional level you can still be close to those you miss, says Adam Kerj, Chief Creative Officer at Hjaltelin Stahl Part of Accenture Interactive.