Exhibitions

Esben Weile Kjær
POWER PLAY


28. August - 14. October 2020

Book a free ticket to a performance in the exhibition here.

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play

28 August - 14 October 2020

In the exhibition Power Play, which can be experienced beginning end of August at GL STRAND, Esben Weile Kjær investigates the night club, its aesthetic, hierarchy, and authorities. The project is part of his examination of youth culture’s expressions and relationship to the overall culture industry. In a fascinating exploration of the connection between fine arts and pop culture, the nightclub forms the basis of a total installation of performance, video, sculpture, light, and sound.

Stage elements are transformed in to dramatic sculptural constructions with light and sound. Fresh and fading flowers are bound together as a funeral wreath over familiar symbols. A video installation with women caught in the mouth of an inflatable shark, an old-fashioned pillory, uniforms and spotlights – these are just some of the things you can experience as part of Esben Weile Kjær’s art installation Power Play at GL STRAND.

The exhibition includes brand new works from the young Danish artist, who despite his age has already distinguished himself as one of performance art’s major talents. Throughout the exhibition period there will be live performances by the artist and his co-performers.

Power Play is both an aesthetic, artistic examination of club culture and a broader cultural exploration of that framework, looking at the authority as well as the freedom the club creates for those who are part of its community. The nightclub is both a cultural and socioeconomic phenomenon, and in Esben Weile Kjær’s interpretation these two sides are joined together in a festive but thought-provoking staging of the experience economy that is increasingly taking over both the fine arts and popular culture.

At the centre of the exhibition stands the video work Industries of Freedom, which was created in cooperation with Freja Sofie Kirk. Here we follow the dancers in their work at the world’s largest nightclub – Privilege. The dancers get ready, are hoisted up on a crane, and are then carried out across the beach in the mouth of an inflatable shark, or they hover below the ceiling. We experience how their bodies transform into scenographic objects that melt together with the rest of the stage construction. Through the club’s architecture and design, the video work examines the location’s generation of finance and images. Industries of Freedom will premiere as part of this exhibition.

The tone of the nightclub is overwhelming. Historical objects and S&M items like the pillory appear as sculptural objects. Weile Kjær doesn’t just perform the relationship between experience culture and youth culture, but stands in direct relation to them himself, with his examination of themes like symbol exchange, identity creation, and entertainment.

A small collection of exhibition-related merchandise has been created, such as T-shirts inspired by the animated superhero Freakazoid!, while the publicity images have been taken by fashion photographer Philip Messman. This makes the exhibition a part of the pop culture it examines.

“Esben Weile Kjær has, through the past five years, stood out as an innovative and ambitious artist on both a national and international level. His art is experimental but at the same time inclusive,” says Anne Kielgast, head curator at GL STRAND.


The exhibition Power Play by Esben Weile Kjær can be experienced at GL STRAND. The exhibition is presented as part of a special partnership with Copenhagen Contemporary, as the first part of a two-part project that will develop over time and place. The second part, HARDCORE FREEDOM, will take place at Copenhagen Contemporary in the fall. Both exhibitions are built up around a substantial staging in which the performative approach and activities challanges the relationship between the institution and the nightclub, and the performer and the observer.

A special thanks to: Det kongelige Teater, Bering Blomster, Soundboks, Statens Kunstfond, Dansk Tennis Fond og Københavns Kommune.  

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman

LUK   X

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman

LUK   X

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman

LUK   X

Esben Weile Kjær: Power Play, Photo: Phillip Messman