Changing cultural power relations. Selected works 1994-1997 | KÖNIG GALERIE | Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz | 27.8.–27.9.2003
Press Release:

From 23 August to 27 September, KÖNIG GALERIE will be showing the exhibition “Changing cultural power relations” by Jens Haaning. 

“Changing cultural power relations” features selected works from 1994-1997 which were created at the juncture of social reality and cultural context and which focus on the shift in institutional positions (of power). This approach had already crystallized in Haaning's "Travel Agency" exhibition, held in the Galerie Mehdi Chouakri in 1997. For that exhibition the gallery space was transformed into a travel agency, where holidays could be booked at art-tax rates.

The small Dutch village of Middelburg was the location Haaning chose in 1996 to reflect upon value creation for cultural production and also the cultural exchange as intended by those institutions which invite artists to exhibit. A small, fully-functioning Middelburg factory and its employees, who normally went about their work in the usual system of day and night shifts, were converted into an exhibition gallery. The artist had already used the same strategy in Copenhagen one year previously. For Haaning's work "Weapon Production" he had invited youths from Copenhagen to create illegal weapons such as slingshots and tube bombs within the walls of an exhibition hall. Both these pieces explore how the meaning attached to cultural or productive activities can be altered by relocating them.

"Flag Production" saw the artist have flags for an imaginary country sewn by immigrants and then hung in the city of Bordeaux. Haaning also participated in Documenta 11, where jokes in Turkish were broadcast by loudspeaker around the town. In Vienna, Haaning's “Office for Exchange of Citizenship” (1997-1998) exploited the freedom within the walls of the Viennese Secession to take institutional power to the absurd, by providing an office where citizens could swap citizenship with one another as needed. 

"Trade Bartering" (1996) from the Kunstnenes Hus in Oslo featured a similar approach. Members of the public were able to purchase normal food products in the gallery at 40% below average supermarket prices. And how was this possible? Because Haaning had previously imported the products into Norway as works of art. This linking of monetary and governmental regulations is particularly clear in the piece "Foreigners Free" (since 1997), where various institutions such as public swimming pools and art galleries allow all their foreign visitors free entry.