Art Imitates Economic Meltdown

Danish artist Jan Egesborg, 46, is no stranger to controversy. He was arrested in Vienna in 2007, and his six-member art group, Surrend, nearly wound up in court after putting up posters depicting Russia’s then-President Vladimir Putin in a target’s bull’s eye. “We found that this satirical political art was getting too much for us,” said Mr. Egesborg. “Every time we did something, it turned into a diplomatic incident.”

Surrend’s latest show, opening for a two-day run in Berlin on March 10, is a combined exhibit and performance piece, showing the work of a fictitious artist named Moll Morgengrau. It explores the effect of the global financial melt down on artists and the arts. One of the Morgengrau posters declares: “More financial crisis please! Now everyone will be just as poor as me!” The exhibit space has fitted out to be “Galerie Verrueckt” (Gallery Crazy). Visitors will be informed that the gallery will be closing on Wednesday due to bankruptcy.

The group’s web site has a biography of Moll Morgengrau, which includes the following:

Surrend have stopped making political art – instead we now introduce a new depressed figure, Moll Morgengrau, in Berlin, Kassel and Copenhagen. Moll Morgengrau is a satirical story about a depressed artist who starts his life in winter-dark Berlin/Copenhagen and then escapes to Cuba. But still with nice young girls and sun every day Moll Morgengrau is caught in his depression. So he returns poor to Berlin to live in Prenzlauer Berg. Moll Morgengrau is also a satirical comment to the cult around depression in the art-world. Moll Morgengrau is inspired by the global financial crisis who will hit people hard with bankruptcy, divorce, depression etc.

“It’s still satirical, but you don’t end up getting threats from superpowers,” said Mr. Egesborg. “Most of the art world is in a big depression over the financial crisis. The motto is that depression is no solution. This is not the end of the world.”

See Also:
Bankers Join Putin, Muslims as Target of Danish Art Protesters [Bloomberg.com; March 9, 2009]
Danish artists reflect downturn in new show [AP; March 9, 2009]

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