Studio Secrets with SUPERFLEX
SUPERFLEX was founded by Jakob Fenger, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, and Rasmus Rosengren Nielsen in 1993. SUPERFLEX has consistently worked with a wide variety of collaborators, from gardeners to engineers to audience members. Engaging with alternative models for the creation of social and economic organisation, works have taken the form of energy systems, beverages, sculptures, copies, hypnosis sessions, infrastructure, paintings, plant nurseries, contracts, and public spaces.
Working in and outside the physical location of the exhibition space, SUPERFLEX has been engaged in major public space projects since their award-winning Superkilen opened in 2011. These projects often involve participation, involving the input of local communities, specialists, and children. Taking the idea of collaboration even further, recent works have involved soliciting the participation of other species. SUPERFLEX has been developing a new kind of urbanism that includes the perspectives of plants and animals, aiming to move society towards interspecies living. For SUPERFLEX, the best idea might come from a fish. We sat down with Rasmus Rosengren Nielsen from the expanded collective, to learn more.
1. What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
It always starts in the following way: while I walk through the garden of the studio, I notice whether or not I get a spiderweb in my face. Then I notice whether or not the door is locked. And the third omen is whether or not there is coffee in the coffee machine. I think of these three daily omens as being the riddle through which the day unfolds. And sometimes, they actually produce a pretty precise prediction of the day. Then at lunch—vegan lunch, that is—I always hope that the Italians in the studio will be cooking and we are not subjected to our usual Nordic catering. This will set the stage for how the afternoon will unfold. In the afternoon, when the blood sugar dips, we all gather in the kitchen, where the cookies are. If one is too late and the treats are gone, the late afternoon will be like a walk in the desert. However, as painful as that might be, this is when the art happens.
2. What is SUPERFLEX working on at the moment?
Our biggest ambition at the moment is to expand our client base, so that it does not only involve galleries and museums and collectors, but also other species. We want to create works that are not human-centric but meet the aesthetic preferences of other creatures, primarily focused on the wet space of the ocean. We are making works for Art Basel, but we also want to make works for Art Basel for fish.
3. Does SUPERFLEX have any rituals connected to their practice?
No. But it’s a good idea and we will immediately start considering it. We wish we had some rituals.
4. What can’t you live without in the studio?
Persistence. And the energy produced by collaboration between different minds. The studio is filled from people with different educations and backgrounds, which creates friction and sometimes magic energies.
5. How has tech most shaped your practice?
We are always interested in using new technologies. We recently made a film about fish consciousness, filmed underwater in Corsica using a 360 camera. The film was scripted by an AI and the underwater reef structures we developed were designed using complex algorithmic geometries.
6. How do you think blockchain technology can help shape the future of the art ecosystem?
Blockchain might be the most interesting new development in tech, in the sense that it aims to produce credibility and trust at time when we seem to have lost trust in institutions. It’s an interesting idea. Whatever gets built with it is another question.
7. Which artist/s working today most inspires you?
8. How do you view yourselves as artists, in relation to the whole entity, SUPERFLEX?
SUPERFLEX is the artist. I work for the artist. The artist is this creature called SUPERFLEX, it’s not an individual. I hope that my services are appreciated.
9. Do you have a favourite museum or art gallery?
Well, I live in Copenhagen, and I always like going to Louisiana. I grew up going there. The museum is designed based on a typical Danish house, and it feels like you are in an expanded private home, so it directly speaks to one’s experience of domestic architecture. The only thing that bothers me about Louisiana is the fact that the founder was a cheese dealer…and I hate cheese.
10. What would you all be if you weren't artists?
I would have been a dry Tibetologist. I was studying Tibetan studies before being seduced by art. And perhaps Bjørn would have been a professional football player. The new Franz Beckenbaur. And Jakob might have been an electrified musician.
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Pictured: SUPERFLEX, The Tube, 1993. A staged photography setup depicting a field in which three men dressed in orange are standing next to an orange PVC-tube. Photo SUPERFLEX. Courtesy of von Bartha.