has gained increasing attention in recent years, as was evident in the solo exhibitions MESO. Songs of Mutual Resistance & Fortification (Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen 2002) and ENDO. A Natural Selection (Overgaden, Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen 2004).
With the work Street Peptic he is yet again of current interest as the first artist to
exhibit in Cph Kunsthal. Michaelsen’s work spans both traditional studio practices of drawing, painting, and collage, as well as installation, music, video, sound productions and purely textbased pieces. In addition, Michaelsen has published extensively on art theoretical and other critical issues in Danish as well as international journals.
The work Street Peptic establishes chromatically as well as materially a conflicting relationship between three different forms of materiality or 'horizons of tactility.':
Medium Density Fireboard; photocopied imagery from modern Danish history and the world of medicine; and cans onto which are attached a label showing a human embryo.
Overall, the work thus blends dry and wet, or ‘crystalline’ and ‘organic’, registers: the production of fiber boards under pressure and in high temperatures, which causes considerable movement when exposed to climatic changes; Xeroxing as a process of sealing the (“wet”) toner powder to paper by way of heat; and finally, preservation as disinfection and hermetic sealing off of the outside world.
In calling forward these changes of state of the matter, however, Michaelsen
simultaneously points to a symbolic relationship between them in so far as this material incommensurability relates to the semantics of the piece as a whole: thus one is not compelled to view the work as a historicalarchaeological accumulation of archived material that alwaysalready holds privileged meaning in and of itself. Rather, the imagery presented to us in the work is detached from the present in that it is effectively positioned in an exchange with a posterity that, in its turn, is split between the urge to preserve and the desire for destruction. These features are emphasized by the very title of the work; peptic (digested, boiled) signals something like digestiveencouraging and this, we may say, points to the fact that the iconology of the work is entirely subjected to the digestive decomposition as such. This process can be readily grasped as a transformative act that simultaneously preserves its own material, which is to say that the overall manner of functioning of the work is one in which the handed down historical material becomes elements that move through the digestive processes that is history itself, eventually covering such areas as the engagement of contemporary interpreting viewers. Thus, in Street Peptic, Michaelsen continues to explore issues which previously have been carried into effect by way of the figures the Peristaltic and the Monad.
As a container, or plinth, the showcase in front of the Steno Pharmacy is a fragile,
transparent membrane which is unsuccessful in protecting efficiently against its
surroundings: changes of temperature, the fleeting glances of passersby (possibly
vandalism?), and its susceptibility to the influence of light (moreover, the cartridge
paper of the photocopies fades rather quickly in permanent exposure to light). These characteristics are all important premises for what can be considered meaningful in Street Peptic; the inside of the showcase thus has symbolicmaterial
correspondences with its surroundings by simultaneously engaging and disengaging them.
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