Installations, videos and projects in public space


by Oliver Ressler

Posters for Aarhus Festival of Contemporary Art

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A poster by Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler

Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler realized a new work on racism for “Minority Report: Challenging Intolerance in Contemporary Denmark”. One version of this work has been presented as a 4 x 4 m large banner on the facade of the The Equestrian Hall in Aarhus, Denmark, where a part of the exhibition takes place. During the night of September 24-25, 2004 – one day before the opening of Minority Report – it was taken down and stolen by an unknown person/group. This incident has already been reported to the police and an investigation started.

The second version of this work on racism by Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler has been produced as a poster for display in 90 city light boxes in the city of Aarhus during the week of October 18-24. But the billboard company AFA JCDecaux at this point rejects to present the billboards to the public. They claim that it is not possible to present a work which uses the logo with the 12 stars of the European Union. This is of course only a very week excuse, as these stars cover only a small percentage of the billboard. It is not a copy right violation for sure, but it is a very common artistic strategy to use existing graphic material and realize something new with it. It is obvious that the company and Aarhus Municipality do not want to present the billboards in their city light boxes because of its political content. The curatorial team of Minority Report and the artists are currently negotiating with the billboard company and Aarhus Municipality to get the posters displayed and make them available to a larger audience through that.

The text on the banner and billboard posters read:

The ruling principle of capitalism legitimizes itself by means of two contrary ideologies: on the one hand the universalistic claim of the competitive society and on the other hand racism and sexism. Capitalism’s non-redeemable promise of equality is in need of ideologies of inequality like racism. Racism makes legitimate the existing relations of inequality in capitalism and thereby contributes to its reproduction. Anti-racist practice should therefore always also aim at the demontage of the capitalist system.

The artists state: “It is a shame that the city of Aarhus rejects to make our billboards available to the public in their 90 city lightboxes, although they agreed to do so at an earlier stage. The theft of our banner before the opening of Minority Report and the reaction of Aarhus Municipality to censor our anti-racist art work seem to be linked to the political situation in Denmark. The existing dominant image of the right-wing politics of exclusion in Denmark unfortunately has been confirmed through this action.” (17.10.04)

Posters against racism and EUropean politics could not be censored

Posters designed by artists Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler for Aarhus on the topic of racism are finally installed in 90 light boxes throughout downtown Aarhus. The posters will stay up until October 24, 2004. This was possible, though the billboard company AFA JCDecaux rejected to present the billboards to the public until Friday, October 15, 2004. They claimed that it is not possible to present a work which uses the logo with the 12 stars of the European Union. It was obvious that the company and Aarhus Municipality did not want to present the billboards in their city light boxes because of its political content. After pressure by media like TV Denmark, radio stations and newspapers and an intervention by Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler to destroy three stars of the EU Logo on the poster Aarhus Municipality had to give in. The very weak excuse to censor the work because of a “copy right violation” was undermined by the intervention from the artists.