Sophia Kalkau Interview: Bubbles of Humour

Sophia Kalkau Interview: Bubbles of Humour

Kalkau uses herself as well as her – often “egg-shaped” – sculptures in her photographs: “I think my objects take on a different life when they are in my photographs.” She applies different techniques while developing film, one of them being solarization, which she also uses to revive old pictures with an added layer: “It creates a strange, obscure and dream-like state in the photos.

When she creates art in public spaces or buildings, such as churches, Kalkau feels that it has to be “as simple as possible so you understand why it’s placed there. And on the other hand, I’d like it to have an element of surprise.” In continuation of this, Kalkau feels that humour is necessary for art: “Humour undermines power or diffuses a situation.” 

Sophia Kalkau (b. 1960) is a Danish artist, who primarily works with sculptures and photography. Kalkau has exhibited widely and her decorative commissions can be seen in venues throughout Denmark including Grøndal Church and Skejby Hospital. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2008 Eckersberg Medal. In addition to her sculptures and photographic works, Kalkau has also written prose and books on aesthetics. For more see:

Sophia Kalkau was interviewed by Nina Humphrey at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark in November 2018 in connection with the exhibition ‘Sophia Kalkau – The Material and the Egg’.

Camera: Nina Humphrey, Sofie Høyer, Susi Castelo and Patrick Lang 
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner, Nina Humphrey, Sofie Høyer, Susi Castelo and Patrick Lang 
Edited by: Nina Humphrey, Sofie Høyer, Susi Castelo and Patrick Lang 
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea fonden

Alejandro Aravena – To Design is to Prefer

“I work in a ‘do tank’ not in a ‘think tank’.” In this personal video interview, the Chilean Pritzker Prize-winning architect Alejandro Aravena shares his unorthodox path to architecture and offers us insight into the important working process of his socially conscious – and highly innovative – architecture office, Elemental.

“Physically shaking a building, everything that was not strictly necessary falls. So why wait for the earthquake? Can’t we submit design to a mental force that has taken out everything that is not strictly necessary?… Hence the name of our practice, Elemental.” Because they primarily work in Chile, which is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, Elemental seek to understand and respond to the forces of nature in the same way that they respond to cultural or emotional forces. An aspect of this, Aravena feels, is the importance of bringing their work to its innermost core, when there’s no more to remove: “That moment of irreducible existence.” In continuation of this, Aravena, who is “trained in a context with a scarcity of means,” argues that the fewer resources they have, the more meaning every single thing that you were given has to have.

In architecture, process is key, Aravena stresses, and in order to succeed, one must try to understand what it is that really matters to a given society – try to understand the uniqueness of a question and resist the urge of thinking we know the answer in advance: “We spend time designing the question before jumping into the answer.” As a consequence, they never know in advance what a project will look like, an example of this being the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank Group in the middle of a poor neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. A building that became a bridge – also physically with a raised linear park – between the wealthiest and the poorest in society. This project, Aravena feels, combines in one single building, everything that they’ve learned: “Architecture has in its innermost core a very powerful tool, which is that the project is synthetic. It can by nature coordinate things that otherwise may be dispersed.” Because they are used to working with constraints and willing to risk their reputation as well as failure every time they do a project, they work hard in advance to anticipate any conflicts. The opinion which matters most to them is that of the user, and so they like to “think out loud with the user” and build projects “around those moments of consensus.”

Alejandro Aravena was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in October 2018