The art of Ulrik Heltoft focuses on the fundamental components of what makes images function – on how our perceptions, experiences, tastes and senses influence our view of what we see.
Heltoft’s works are shrouded in mystery, yet lucidly clear: a fusion of dream and reality where illusion and documentation merge. Basing his work on literary, art-historical and scientific references, he explores the technical and aesthetic potential of lens-based media.
Alongside film and video, photography has always played a central role in Ulrik Heltoft’s work, and his photographic practice is where he turns his gaze in this exhibition, asking what a photograph – and in a wider sense, an image – actually is. The title of the exhibition is a playful yet disturbing rewrite of a classical English nursery rhyme, and refers to the four ‘workstations’ that structure the exhibi- tion. These are activated by a soundtrack that creates a synchronised flow between the different spaces, shifting from a two-dimensional graphic surface to creating the illusion of space. Each station is based on a set of rules, and forms a visual statement somewhere between disintegration and generation – between the real and the imaginary.
The works themselves offer a minimum of concrete information, and their resulting openness not only draws attention to the basic elements of image formation, but also to how the meaning of any image emerges in the exchange between the concrete, the intuitive, and the culturally coded. Based on the principle that there is more we don’t know than we do, each work has four elements: a piece of factual information, an allegory, a secret, and a metaphysical interpretation. Ulrik Heltoft uses the exhibition to dissect his own practice, but also the primary material of the image, in a sensuous and experimental study of the creation of the visual as well as the subjective decoding of the photographic medium.
Ulrik Heltoft (b. 1973) lives and works in Copenhagen. He is a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2001), and has also studied at Yale University School of Art in New Haven (1999-2001). In recent years he has exhibited at Gl. Holtegaard in Denmark, Secession in Vienna, as well as participated in the Whitney Biennial in New York. Heltoft is currently associate professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.