It is a significant monument to the industrialization of the rural, which forms the stage for Nina Beier’s performative exhibition CAT COW, commissioned for Kunsthal Rønnebæksholm’s 1200 sqm barn and curated by Charlotte Sprogøe. Nina Beier creates an organic microcosm in the kunsthalle off-site barn, where eggs, soil, milk, feline animals, smoke and performers are included as living sculptural elements on an equal footing with pre-made objects.
CAT COW unfolds as an organism that lives its own life, which means that visitors can alternately encounter it as a sculptural installation and experience a scale of living presence – from human to molecular. CAT COW is activated during opening hours in changing formations.
This is the first time an artist has been invited to create an exhibition for the barn. The abandoned, architect-designed barn at the former manor house Rønnebæksholm sets the tone for Nina Beier’s exploration of how value is constructed and meaning is created through the elastic motifs and multi-coded objects that move around our world – carrying their own baggage. With its vaulted wooden ceiling, ghostly presence and stamped earth floors, the barn forms a scenic space where the performers are included as living sculptures. Their bodies serve the exhibition as an organism and are thus used as resources on an equal footing with agriculture and animal husbandry. The barn functions for Beier as a kind of massive found object in itself, which here hosts a number of other objects, life forms and processes in a project saturated with references to economics, value formations and state of being in our globalized, capitalist times.
The tension between the living and the dead, the natural and the artificial, the organic and the fossilised goes through CAT COW, which vibrates between one and the other outer position. With vastly different references to the planet’s resources, the artist expands our understanding of how these are manipulated, overproduced, milked, swallowed, polluted, and purified again.
The exhibition is curated by curator and PhD. fellow Charlotte Sprogøe at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts research department, who researches in location-specific exhibitions and the exhibition as both mental state and aesthetic form. This is the second out of three exhibitions curated by Sprogøe as part of this research field. In this project, it is ‘the rural’ that form the backdrop and stage for the off-site commission.
Kunsthal Rønnebæksholm and Billedkunstskolernes Forlag publishes a research-based catalog in connection with CAT COW. The catalogue presents an essay by curator Charlotte Sprogøe and a text work in note-form by Nina Beier in collaboration with writer Nanna Friis, unfolding the exhibition’s elements in dialogue with the artist’s extensive performative and sculptural practices.