Copenhagen 1958-66 Galerie Koepcke
- In Copenhagen Galerie Køpcke was a dynamic and now legendary meeting point for a vast number of experimental artists from allover Europe. The gallery was established in October 1958 and closed in March 1963. During this short span of time the gallery had 3 different addresses in Copenhagen. At first it was located in a former herring smokehouse, Læderstræde 17, then it moved to Lille Kirkestræde 1 and finally settled down in a corner of Knud Pedersen's Art Library in Nikolai Church.
- The story of Arthur "Addi" Køpcke born in Hamburg in 1928, marrying the Dane Aase ‘Tut' and moving to Copenhagen, is well known. They opened the gallery in order to guarantee Køpcke bis Danish residence permit.
Addi and Tut Køpcke created a space for Danish and European avant-garde, rooted in Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism.The presentation of - among others - Les Nouveau Réalistes, Gruppe Zero, and - in 1962 - Fluxus accentuated a deliberate rejection of the art scene of the period.
Køpcke became a friend of the Danish artist, Gunnar Aagaard Andersen, who had a central position in the Danish avant-garde art and was well acquainted with the European scene. Gunnar Aagaard Andersen was a co- founder of Groupe Espace (Action Directe - art as social space) in Paris and Biot 1951.
His orientation was radical and experimental and included works in which the spectator could interfere with and change the work of art itself. The gallery offered an opportunity for philosophical, poetical and anarchistic activities. With a liberating hilarity it also offered new challenges for Art & Life.
- It bas been reported that much was said, but the general attitude was that none of it was a monologue. On the contrary, exchanges took place constantly. The focus was on the ordinary and not the exotic, the event and not the pose, the process and not the artifact.
To rearrange reality and increase attention. To operate in a world consisting of ordinary or found objects, simple matters and daily practise. Simultaneously the art market and institutions were rejected and a new outlook and aesthetics were established.
Major events in the gallery during 1960-61 include: Walk Inside the Painting, an environment by Køpcke, Albert Mertz, Lora and Megert; Poi-poi by Robert Filliou; Stupidogrammer by Diter Rot; Attention, oeuvre d'art, a grocery store by Daniel Spoerri; Niki de Saint-Phalle, who added color to an assemblage made of found objects by shooting with rifles on plastic bags bidden in the assemblage, so they exploded, and the paint splashed out; a show by Piero Manzoni presenting his Merda d'artista, eggs with the artist's fingerprints on them, and balloons blown up with the artist's breath, then contained inside, etc.
- Other activities
The International Situationiste manifested itself in Copenhagen primarily through the theoretical works by Asger Jorn (Skandinavisk Institut for Sammenlignende Vandalisme) but also through the works by bis brother Jørgen Nash and Hardy Strid, Jens Jørgen Thorsen a.o. Happenings/Actions called Co-ritus were performed, in which everybody was invited to liberate Art & Life.
A 'contre salon' art school was established to protest against the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. This alternative art school - later called EKS-skolen - was initiated by Paul Gernes, Troels Andersen a.o. The group around the school worked with collages, assemblages and collective manifestations - influenced by Nouveau Réalisme and Pop Art, and later on by Joseph Beuys, with whom they collaborated from the mid-Sixties.
They issued a number of magazines, produced happenings, actions, experimental films (AB Cinema) etc. The work of the group differed from most Fluxus works by a much stronger orientation towards visual art (tableau, mythical and symbolic representations). Major members of the group were: Lene Adler Petersen, Bjørn Nørgaard, Per Kirkeby, Peter Louis-Jensen, Paul Gernes, John Davidsen and the composer Renning Christiansen.
A young composer's organization, called DUT, was well integrated into the avant-garde scene during the first years of the Sixties. The organization had close ties to Darmstadt Internationale and frequently presented works by Stockhausen, Cage, Berio, Ligety a.o. in Copenhagen. The most important members of the group were Ib Nørholm, Per Nørgård, Pelle Gudmundsen- Rolmgreen, Jørgen Plaetner. Eric Andersen had his earliest works performed by DUT in 1961. Two important international events had a decisive impact on Copenhagen as well as other European cities. In Amsterdam the ‘Bewogen Beweging' exhibition was organized by the Stedelijk Museum. A part of the exhibition travelled to the Louisiana museum north of Copenhagen in September 1961. During the exhibition DUT organized a concert with Nam June Paik. He performed his Hommage à John Cage, which consisted of works by La Monte Young, Ichiyanagi, George Maciunas, Dick Higgins, Paik and others.
Later on in London, Gallery One organized ‘Festival of Misfits' with Køpcke, Metzger, Filliou, Patterson, Page, Spoerri, Vautier and Williams.
In November 1962 ‘Fluxus Fluxorum', a festival over 6 evenings, took place in Copenhagen. Emmett Williams, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, Ben Patterson, George Maciunas, Wolf Vostell came from the ‘Fluxus Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik' in Wiesbaden, September 1962.
The ‘Fluxus Fluxorum' in Copenhagen was organized by DUT in cooperation with Galerie Køpcke and Knud Pedersen's Art Library and took place in the Art Library in Nikolai Church and the theatre, Alle-Scenen. The festival became an incredible scandal/success. A huge crowd attended every evening, but most of music-oriented audience had expected something quite different than the philosophical, Zen influenced, daily life events, including the spectators themselves, that was presented to them.
Danish National Television covered the first evening, but decided to cancel all transmissions after the obvious scandal. The laughter is still faintly audible in the old church.
'Fluxus Fluxorum' came to an end and went to Paris, but connections and friendship had been assured. What happened in the following years would not have been possible without the stimulus of the festival. This situation wasn't special for Copenhagen but applied to most cities where the festival struck as lightning during 1962-64. After the festival Eric Andersen and Arthur Køpcke - represented at the present exhibition [= 'Ubi Fluxus ibi motus', CS] - began a cooperation on intermedia performances. These events took place in concert halls, in theatres, at exhibitions, in streets and in radio programs, film and videos etc., sometimes including Henning Christiansen (who later worked closely with Beuys), Knud Pedersen, Jørgen Plaetner a.o.
The following artists were invited for these performances: Emmett Williams, Tomas Schmit, Wolf Vostell, Joseph Beuys, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Bengt af Klintberg, Jed Curtis and Terry Riley.
The intermedia performances presented works that could not be confined. What happened just seemed to happen quite ordinarily with no significance or importance. All that occurred might as well have been something quite different. Statements and actions that were never meant to be conclusive, although presented within the frame- work of art. It is stated in a catalogue from the Sixties: "When Arthur Køpcke invites Eric Andersen, it is not a painter who invites a composer". At that time ‘intermedia' was not yet a usual term, and what the above sentence implies is that 'something else' was happening.
Arthur Køpcke's background was painting and Eric Andersen's music, but their works up to 1962 display many similarities in approach. This explains the collaboration in which they could participate as assistents to each other.
- Marianne Bech
Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde
- BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCE
Marianne Bech, 'Fluxus Intermedia, Copenhagen 1958-66 Galerie Køpcke', in: Ubi Fluxus ibi motus 1990-1962 / a cura di Achille Bonito Oliva (Fondazione Mudima/Mazzotta : Milano, 1990) 292-293. Reprinted with permission from Marianne Bech and Fondazione Mudima.