Entering into a unique collaboration, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), the City of Copenhagen and Kunsthal Aarhus have joined forces to realise a visionary project by acclaimed British artist Gillian Wearing.
In 2014, Statistics Denmark had records of 37 different kinds of family structures in Denmark, including a wealth of blended-family combinations. Deliberately aiming to generate discussion, Wearing sets out to find A Real Danish Family by launching a nationwide campaign inviting all kinds of families from all over Denmark to sign up. A jury will ultimately choose one family as the winners; a full-size sculpture of that family will then be cast in bronze.
"A Real Danish Family explores the concept of family investigating how we perceive the idea of family in present-day Denmark. At the same time, the project also questions our notions about what ‘real’, ‘Danish’ and ‘family’ actually means to us. The work will merge traditional portrait sculpture with family X-factor. These days you can find plenty of competitions where you can win money and a trip to sunnier climes, but here you get the chance to be immortalised in bronze,” says the man behind the initiative, Jacob Fabricius, Artistic Director at Kunsthal Aarhus.
The sculpture A Real Danish Family will permanently be installed in central Copenhagen, and the SMK will show an exhibition about Wearing and the project in October 2017. The Danish Broadcasting Corporation has toured the nation to follow the entire process over the course of three programmes – from interviews conducted with the various families who signed up for the project to the jury’s deliberations and the final choice. The programmes will be broadcasted by DR in the autumn of 2017, leading up to the reveal of the sculpture and the opening of the exhibition at the SMK. During the project, video footage, photographs, the families’ descriptions of themselves and other materials will be presented at art institutions across the country.
In 2016 DR casted nearly 500 families in the following cities: Hillerød, Nexø, Slagelse, Næstved, Lolland, København, Billund, Aarhus, Herning, Klitmøller, Aalborg, Haderslev, Esbjerg and Odense.
Gillian Wearing (b. 1963, UK), who won the prestigious Turner award in 1997, has been keenly interested in family constructs throughout her career, investigating all the issues of identity, challenges and shifts associated with the concept. In this project Wearing focuses on the family as a setting in which we shape our identity, our sense of self and how we present ourselves to the world. She wishes to point to this universally human experience by creating a monument that celebrates ‘ordinary people’.