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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Kirsten Justesen

Copenhagen K,
Denmark

Kirsten Justesen was born in 1943. She currently lives and works in Copenhagen and New York. She studied at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen 1975.

Her activities comprise a wide range of genres, from body art and performance art, to sculptures and installation. Justesen was part of the avant-garde scene of the 1960s, where she became a pioneering figure within the three-dimensional modes of art that incorporate the artist’s own body as artistic material. These experiments led her in the direction of the so-called feminist art which challenged traditional value systems during the 1970s. Her later works constitute broader investigations of relationships between body, space, and language.

Justesen has created a series of exhibitions, events, museum installations, performances, and mural work in Denmark and the rest of world since the mid-60s. And received number of awards including a life-long grant from The Danish Arts Foundation. Justesen has been a visiting professor and lecturer at art academies in Scandinavia, the U.S., and the Middle East.

The 1970s were especially dedicated to an investigation into the feminine gaze at a time where Justesen’s studio was located between the kitchen and the nursery. Justesen is continuously fighting for women artists’ rights and influence in the art world at many levels—from her work on various boards and positions in foundations, to co-organizing seminars concerning women artists’ positions in society.

Justesen has designed sets for a number of theatres since 1967. The co-operations in the 1990s were mainly with ballet companies. This included libretto and production design with the Randi Patterson Company as well as the building up education for set designers at The Danish National School of Theatre from 1985-90.

Justesen’s artwork is represented in private and public collections, worldwide, including Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Kors Drag was published 1999; it comprises a collection of 200 images and 100 lines of words, rewritten by international female artists. Meltingtime # 11 is a retrospective catalogue published in 2003, documenting the melting times presented since 1980. Meltingtime # 16 will take place in Venice in October 2007.

Feminist Artist Statement

….. Duchamp couldn’t think of anything new.

But for us women artists there was a lot to discover!

To a woman artist wanting everything, society seemed pretty narrow in the 1960s. A battle started in order to conquer breathing space, action space and language space in the world—which, from my point of view, includes having children, a career, and access to means of production in that postwar, welfare and increasingly global environment.

From this simple wish sprang various strategies towards society, strategies which I considered art work—and thank you Mr. Duchamp for deleting the border lines. The revolution was that women artists did this together and insisted on surviving all kinds of bloodshed.

This was done to perceive visual images from a female point of view. Unfold the invisible. Not that easy when you have been educated in a classical sculpture department. What does it look like? My studio was for a long time an inspiring threshold between the nursery and the kitchen.

The images which I have chosen for this feminist art base are part of that struggle. Sculpture # 2, 1968 is a more formal sculptural investigation, as is the last one shown from 1980, Ice Bride # 3 (conquering an iceberg—melting time!). It refers to three-dimensional investigations that still challenge me.

I have used my own body in most of my work, in order not to get lost.

I take part in this feminist art base as evidence of an ongoing female strategy.

<p>Sculpture # 2, Ed.7</p>

Sculpture # 2, Ed.7

Ed.7. The considerations were purely of form, a note of the classical fundamental principles of sculpture which I had acquired – by hand – between 1965–68 at the Fine Art Academy, Sculpture Department: base, volume, texture, theme/body. In addition to this, the work is collapsible and can be placed on a wall. I used my own body.

Sculpture # 2, Ed.7

Ed.7. The considerations were purely of form, a note of the classical fundamental principles of sculpture which I had acquired – by hand – between 1965–68 at the Fine Art Academy, Sculpture Department: base, volume, texture, theme/body. In addition to this, the work is collapsible and can be placed on a wall. I used my own body.

Puzzy-Power

Plaster cast of my own pregnant body. The cast is included in the series: Circumstances 1969-1973. The print was used as a poster for various discourses. On June 13, 1973, the law on free abortion was passed in Denmark.

Lunch

Ed.7 ...I placed myself sitting in the shopping cart driving out in the landscape. First used as the poster for a solo exhibition HOUSE WIFE PICTURES in 1975. From this period of time I still have, I do not know how many, well-used dishtowels sewed together into one large piece going with important political survival texts.

The Class Struggle / Klassekampen

Ed.7 Also used as illustration in various versions in a series of publications until the class struggle was called off. The slippers worn in THE CLASS STRUGGLE have been walked out of in a number of other contexts. One version of this work is the first picture in the WHEN I SEE A RED BANNER FLABBERING series.

Fish & Chips

Ed. 500 An emblem of body-art. My body is what is at hand, thus, it is a basic starting point, and at the same time it is an entire atlas of primal shapes. Here reduced to a minimum: two of the body parts that come into view when you look down, together with a third everyday object held by the hand. A completely everyday picture and an absolutely strict formal composition at one and the same time.

By Glimpses, part II

Ed.7 Part I shows the same backyard set up for work. Part II shows concentrated work on a sculpture - now just in the crowded backyard.

Icebride # 3

Ed.7. The last image in a series of 3. When translated into Danish, the title ISBRUD/ICEBRIDE pulls in opposite directions. ISBRUD/ICEBRIDE – ‘ISBRUD’ – retains its English connotations, but can also mean “Breaking of the Ice.” This is from an event in Greenland 1980 as the first of, so far, 15 MELTINGTIMES over the years performed in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and New York, using various media. A metaphor for transformation - a dialogue with time.

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Gothersgade 143
Copenhagen K, 1123
Denmark

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Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.