The Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof is pleased to present Adam Christensen’s first solo exhibition in Germany. The artist grew up in Denmark and now lives in England. In his works he interweaves biographical with theatrical moments as well as dreams with traumas. This results in stirring and humorous performances, films, short stories or textile works which are infused with love, desire, melancholy and loss. Christensen’s works take their starting point in personal experiences, which he expands upon with fictional elements. The characters appearing in the resulting stories range from angst-ridden and sex-obsessed teenagers to film noir antiheroines to great Hollywood divas who play exalted with their own archetypal role attributions. In his videos, performances, and installations, Christensen stages the domestic and the everyday as spectacle, whereby its theatricality is broken by intimate and quiet moments. Christensen’s performances, both large and small, are relentlessly honest and emotionally direct.
The exhibition Küss mich, bevor du gehst presents a selection of video works. Death by Mystery Part I & II (2020) were made during the first lockdown in the artist’s London flat share, in which a hedonistic scenario unfolds. Christensen appears here continuously alternating between being a private person and being his performance alter ego Madame de Dangé Laïm. We watch as he bakes an ex-lover as a calorie-laden cake, only to captivate the audience the next moment as a singing grand dame with an accordion, reading aloud cheerful, erotic, and whimsical stories. With the same frequency as the roles, the settings change between stage moments and banal domesticity. It is not the film editing that determines the transition, but rather Christensen’s movement through the house, with the camera following him. Between staged illusion and decidedly everyday life, between theatricality and reality, the pace of the narrative increases, full of sex, glamour, murder and unexpected twists.
The film Under Hypnose was made in the late summer of 2020 when Christensen traveled to Denmark to visit his mother and sister due to a death in the family, and it operates quite differently. Here the artist steps behind the camera, with which he draws a subjective documentary portrait of the house in which he grew up and all of the stories it holds. The interior shots of the house are accompanied by conversation fragments between him, his mother and sister. Memories of the past continue to unfold: childhood games; the separation of the parents and the custody battle; the mother’s fear of losing her children and of her ex-husband. The film does not tell a stringent family chronicle, but instead traces the always subjective character and the abruptness of suddenly emerging memories. The house takes on contradictory roles; it is a safe retreat and at the same time it evokes painful memories.
The exhibition is complemented by two earlier video works. Large-scale textile works made from patchwork complete the scenery. They show characters and scenes from Christensen’s artistic universe – excerpted and allusive.
The exhibition is kindly supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, and the Royal Danish Embassy, Berlin.