With the exhibition Icarus Victorious, Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen transforms the upper galleries of Overgaden into a spectacular and surprising art theatre. Icarus Victorious is a two-part exhibition with the performance of Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen’s text of the same name, as well as a scenographic framework for the art theatre festival HUBRIS created by Schmidt-Rasmussen in collaboration with the artists J&K, Ulla Hvejsel, claus ejner and Kristian Byskov.
The exhibition as a whole embodies the artists’ personal interest in an art form that is distinct from classical theatre, but also from the performance art that has proliferated on the art scene during recent decades. All the performances in the exhibition are based on texts with elements of classical theatre like roles and dialogue, and the audience will also experience scenographic elements and different forms of artistic expression incorporating found objects, textiles, reliefs and collages.
The title Icarus Victorious refers to the figure of Greek legend who flew too close to the sun, melting his wings and plummeting to his death. The legend has become a symbol of the hubris constituted by striving for the divine, but in Schmidt-Rasmussen’s performance Icarus is a more complex figure closer to a symbol of ourselves. We are all Icarus, but unlike the original legend we manage to extinguish the sun, with serious consequences to follow. The play is inspired by the so-called ’refugee crisis’ in the spring of 2016, when a large group of people took to the E45 motorway in Denmark on foot. Frustrated with society and critical in its address, it also expresses a reactive, indiscriminate and apathetic rage.
The four plays that comprise the art theatre festival HUBRIS present absurd reflections on the arse, object theatre, stories of cyborgs and monsters, as well as a ruthless self-portrait of an artist. Despite their differences, all four – together with Schmidt-Rasmussen’s Icarus Victorious – pose fundamental questions about the nature of human beings, the information we produce and receive, and life itself. At the same time, alienation is a central point of intersection between the individual performances, which provide points of engagement, since alienation and a sense of distance can make it possible to reflect and take a critical stand.
The curator of the exhibition Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen (b. 1963) is a visual artist based in Copenhagen. He works primarily with painting and poetry, and studied at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1986-92. He has also exhibited extensively in Denmark and abroad, most recently at X and beyond, Bendixen Contemporary Art, Skagen’s Museum, Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art and Vestjyllands Kunstpavillon.
Christian Schmidt-Rasmussen, sketch for wall installation. Detail