The personal experience is difficult to contradict

My works from the last four years all evolve around nationality and how identity is constituted. This interest comes mainly out of personal experiences, though I am of course aware of the relevance which the question has gained during the past few years of globalisation, migration and not least the growing xenophobic tendencies in larger parts of Europe. But even so, it is important for me to stress my works did not emerge from a wish to comment on the importance of nationality in modern society, but rather because I was puzzled by things on a private level and subsequently saw a possibility to express something of common relevance based on these private experiences.

I also mention this with reference to the reactions of many contemporary artists to the right-wing tendencies of European governments. I find the apparent political commitment sympathetic, but the positions from which people react tend to be very rigid. In my view this leads to a highly polarized discussion, making it the more difficult for the individual to express feelings of uncertainty or doubt when dealing with something as complex as national identity and identity in general. I myself have a hard time identifying with the positions represented in such debates, and it is partly this feeling of having the ‘wrong’ opinion and finding it difficult to say it aloud which motivated me to do many of my works. I see the subjective approach as a way of expressing ‘wrong’ feelings, since the personal experience – as opposed to the clearly articulated opinion – is difficult to contradict. It takes place regardless of what your opinions might otherwise be.

The work ”Ama insan nasil kendi olur?” presents thoughts about belonging in a community. Berlin has long been celebrated for its alternative scene and seemingly open atmosphere, by the Berliners as well as people outside of the city. And going to Istanbul to exhibit with other Berlin-based artists is for me a perfect chance to look at the idea of the ’open community’ which Berlin has come to symbolize. With this I hope to be able to say something important about the community, in Berlin as well as anywhere else, and the way the individual understands him- or herself within it.



Lise Harlev
Born1973 in Odense, Denmark
Lives and works in Berlin


2000 – 2002 School of Art Theory, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
1999 – 2000 Staedelschule, Frankfurt am Main
1995 – 2002 School of Visual Arts, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
1994 – 1995 The Funen Art Academy, Odense

Selected solo exhibitions

Something no one else has, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm
I am here and you are there, Overgaden - Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen

Could you imagine living in the same place forever?, Kunstbuero, Vienna
Har du nogensinde løjet om hvor du kom fra?, Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

Det kan såre éns stolthed, Udstillingsstedet Rhizom, Aarhus
Jeg bruger grammatik efter fornemmelsen, Galleri Søren Houmann, Copenhagen

Selected group exhibitions

Momentum 2004, Moss
Monument, Copenhagen
D.A.E. – Donostiako Arte Ekinbideak, San Sebastian
Schizorama, National Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow
But this is more like us! Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul

Another European, Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam
Southbound – Case Study of an Imaginary Community in Berlin, Leipziger Strasse 54, Berlin
Yours Truly, Nils Stærk Contemporary Art, Copenhagen
Young Art: Transcultural, Overbeck-Gesellschaft, Luebeck

Telling Stories, Borromini Arte Contemporanea, Ozzano Monf.
Total Überzogen, Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg
Fundamentalisms of the New Order, Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall, Copenhagen
BABEL 2002, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul
Grünfläche betreten verboten, Galerie Kamm, Berlin
Manifesta 4 – European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Frankfurt am Main
BIG Torino 2002, Turin
Get out! An exhibition on the subject of going away, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok

Danskheder, Galleri Christian Dam, Copenhagen
T-H-I-N-K, i-n-k, Copenhagen
Efterårsudstillingen, Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall, Copenhagen
Camp Lejre, Lejre
Michael Beutler/Lise Harlev, Wohnung Wolff/Draschan, Vienna
TAKE OFF 20:01, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus

4 artists - 4 spaces, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin
Ambassaden, Kørners Kontor, Copenhagen
Festival Junger Talente, Messe Offenbach, Offenbach am Main
DYNAMO.EINTRACHT, Frankfurt am Main/Dresden
UKS, Oslo