Benny Dröscher: A Fairy-told-tale
The flora is all over the walls,
the floor and the ceiling in Benny Dröscher's
forest atmosphere work. We are invited to step into a world in which
everything at first glance seems both recognisable and pretty: fir trees; small,
delicate butterflies; a small pond with water lilies; a mossgrown forest
floor. But the real objects have been turned upside down, and the
enchanting quality about the work is also ambigious. Benny Dröscher knowingly
evokes this ambiguity, as evidenced in one of the sculptures of the
installation: -And Fairies Still Dance There. "Fairies", with its dual
references to elfs and gay men, have, in both senses of the word, left their
mark after their visit under the fir trees: a fairy ring of pale blue fungi, and
a pair of Calvin Klein underpants.
The magical universe is merely
a piece of installation scenery, and Benny
Dröscher does not attempt to hide this: on the contrary, this is by no means
a perfectly crafted scene arrangement, meant to create a perfect illusion
about reality. If anything, it is rather poorly and primitively executed.
The idyllic forest floor, for instance, turns out to be made of an old
carpet. Dröscher investigates how much or more precisely: how little it
takes for us to accept this universe the way it is presented to us. He
complies with our wish for the magical tale. But at the same time his work
addresses the problem of art's very ability to communicate. It is as if he
is raising the question of whether or not art is able to seduce. Is it
legitimate in the first place to employ such a trite move as the art of
seduction? Is seduction a prerequisite in order to catch the spectator's attention?
In so doing, Dröscher raises
questions concerning the conceptual approach to
art which mainly addresses the spectator through his or her intellect. Like
the Romantic artists of the 19th century, Dröscher's art appeals to our
emotions and intuition, but only as a way of ultimately appealing to our
intellect. The nature which we see in A Fairy-told-tale is not the nature of
19th century Romantic painting: the mystical, grand and powerful nature
which enables us to achieve some insight into the sublime. It is rather
nature as something comical, kitsch and harmless. Dröscher is hinting at the
paradox to be found in the fact that even though we romantically hold on to
the vision of nature as a place with mythical and Dionysian powers, we
typically only encounter it in different and more controlled ways, such as
during a picnic.
The artist points to the problematic
relationship between high culture and
popular culture, not only in his use of figures from folktales such as the
fairy and by making art's seductive potential a theme in his art, but
also in his use of "ugly" and kitsch materials. The sculptures of the
installation thus also position themselves in relation to another
predominant trend of the 20th century: the abstract, formal sculpture. He
does not make ironic references to the sculpture; what he wants is more to
challenge conventional notions of which materials are suitable for a
sculpture and how it should appear.
Dröscher does not just
attempt to challenge formal conventions. The pretty
and sentimental quality that there is to his installations may appear
provocative to, in particular perhaps, the male spectator. Where are the
masculine qualities such as the straight lines, the pure, raw materials and
the aggressiveness? Dröscher's works do not comply with the usual masculine
ideals. But is there such a thing as a masculine aesthetic practice in the
first place? Or to put the question differently: is the use of glitter,
butterflies and flowers in itself and of itself feminine? Dröscher
challenges the stereotyped notions of the sexes which still remain so firmly
rooted. He consciously crosses the imaginary borders of what constitutes
acceptable behaviour in male/masculine art.
Apart from meaning a magical
narrative, "fairy tale" may also mean "a tall
story"; and the second part of the title with its "told-tale" is somehow an
adaptation of "the tell-tale", someone gossipy or downright revealing and
treacherous. Who is this treacherous gossipmonger going around telling tall
stories? Benny Dröscher's works are both merry and fantastic; but underneath
the enchanted and ambigious surface lies a critical investigation of the
conceptions of art, nature and sexual conventions.
Peder Skrams Gade 13 . DK-1054 Copenhagen K . Tel. +45 3313 0123 . Fax +45 3313 3203 . e-mail: email@example.com
Lives and works in Copenhagen
1992 - 96 The Jutland Academy of Art
Selected solo exhibitions:
2001 "A Fairy-told-tale", Galleri Specta, Copenhagen
2000 "Two Treohh", The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition Space, Cph. (with Trine Boesen)
1999 "As If ......", Overgaden, The Ministry of Cultural Affairs Exhibition House for Contemp.Art.
1997 " Mind You", Kunstnernes Hus, Århus.
1996 "Boy Story", Gallery Høgsberg, Århus.
1996 "Other Peoples Secret", Rum 46, Århus.
Selected group exhibit õions:
2002: "The Harder They
Come", Sparwasser, Berlin, Germany
"The Half", galleri Specta, - Randers Kunstmuseum, Denmark
2001 : "up Till 2002" Galleri Møller Witt, Århus, Denmark
"New Aquisitions", Kobberstiksamlingen, The Danish National Gallery , Copenhagen , Denmark
Artissima, (Galleri Specta), Torino, Italy
"Masculinities" - Representation of Men in Contemporary Art, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center, Cph.*
"Danish", Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden
The Charlottenborg Fall Exhibition, Copenhagen
"Love", Otto on Tour, Århus, Denmark
"Take Off 20:01" , Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark *
2000 "Brief Encounter", Opera Paese, Rome, Italy *
"New Aquisitions", Arken - Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
1999 "Up Till 2000", Galleri Møller Witt, Århus
art forum berlin (Galleri Specta)
"LSD - Landgreen, Scherfig, Dröscher", Galleri Specta, Copenhagen *
1998 Gallery Specta,Copenhagen.
¦1996 "From All of You.....", Rum 46, Århus.
1995 Gallery Vartai, Vilnius, Lithuania.
The 7th International Plein-Air, Vilnius, Lithuania.
The Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, Copenhagen.
1994 The Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, Copenhagen.
1993 "Melting-time", Overgaden, Copenhagen. (Guest at Kirsten Justesens)
"The Danish Egyptian Week for Planning, Architecture and Sculpture", Cairo, Egypt.
1992 "Obelisk - Variations on a Skeleton Structure", Århus Festuge, Århus. *
Public Collections: Malmö
Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden
Arken- Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danish National Gallery, Kobberstiksamlingen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Prizes: Statens Kunstfond (Danish Endowment for Visual Art),
The City of Århus, 1991
Grants: Statens Kunstfond (Danish
Endowment for Visual Art), 2-years Working Grant, 2000 - 2002
Support from The Academy Council's Grant for Younger Artists Exhibition-activities.
Related work: Censor at The
Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, 1997 - 98
Visual Art Adviser and Consulent for The Architects Schmidt, Hammer og Lassen, 1996 -
Visual Art Consulent for The Cultural Capital of Europe96, ArtGenda 96 (responsible for the exhibition at Øksnehallen)