Text from "Take Off" Catalogue" 2001.

By Anders Kold, Lise Mortensen & Lise Jacobsen

Nikolaj Recke's overall output of artworks makes its thrust in many directions. However, he often works around the stereotypes, among these being the romantic and notions of the artist's identity, where the artist subject makes a distinct appearance. In Recke's work, this is cultivated, and it s even over-acted. Recke plays upon the idea of authenticity, which is normally conjoined with the artist's creative process - the notion of the genius who can accomplish something completely extraordinary that not everybody else can. For example, in Recke's drawings, which seem to be drawn in a somewhat distorted way and foster the impression that the artist has been struggling with the material, it again points back to the creator, the author, ergo the artist, and back toward that property which gives him his identity. In point of fact, the drawings are most often rendered directly from photographs.

In his video entitled "Knowing You, Knowing Me " it is also the role of the artist that is being treated in a thematic way. You follow the course of an exchange of letters, where Recke assiduously tries to establish contact with the American artist, Robert Morris. You are instilled with a sense of following along in something very private, and you become involved with and identify with the artist's vexed ruminations in the sequence of events. Whether the story is fictitious or not remains open to question. As an extension of the video, two felt sculptures are exhibited. They are exactly like Robert Morris' works, and here the problem of authenticity is recapitulated. Is this a genuine Robert Morris sculpture, or isn't it? Is the dialogue between the two artists real, or isn't it? The work raises the question of how important the genuineness of an artwork realIy is in order for it to function effectively as a work of art. How important is the person, Robert Morris, to the understanding of his work, anyhow? Recke transforms Robert Morris from being a great and important artist with art exemplary output of work, which was groundbreaking back in the sixties in its way of articulating the problem of the artwork's autonomy and the prioritization of art's visual aspect into a model example for a young Danish artist with spiky hair. In doing so, Recke pulls Morris into a completely different sphere than that of the lofty world of art. Now Morris comes to be situated in the world of fan-culture, side by side with the Spice Girls and Madonna. What is precisely the private aspect in the story -Recke's idol worship and his disappointment in one of the father figures - provides the viewer with the opportunity to leave the world of art and to enter into a more everyday like exchange with idols. This piece is dealing with the encounter with the world and reality within which the artist exists and it deals with the small confrontations with certain themes in twentieth century art history that transpire in the field of tension between authenticity and wishful thinking.

Recke’s field of clover raises some of the same questions. This is a hopeful, romantic and optimistic zone. Recke is circling around systems of faith. For example, there is the notion that the artist has special talents and there is the notion that a four-leaf clover brings good luck. Superstition? A “forget me-not” has been used in a similar project, where it represents the sense of an immanent romance This flower has a meaning which differentiates it front all other flowers. And thus for Nikolaj Recke, art or the field of clover, if you will - also becomes a question of superstition and accordingly, becomes an investigation of art's immanent power. Can it really be true that the four leaf clover, the “forget-me not” and the artist are in possession of firm qualities that are built right into their identities, or is all this merely a question of superstition? The field of clover possesses that same sensibility and sensuality that a genuine Rembrandt possesses for a true art connoisseur. So, why not?
Recke is looking for the conception about the artist within modernism's mythical formations in much the same manner that we can find ourselves looking for the lucky four-leaf clover.

AK: few years ago, you created the video entitled “In the Moment of Realization”, where the picture consisted exclusively of sparks from an angle grinder which shoot up into the darkness. The title of the work hints at the moment of creation, that place in time where “something” is suddenly created. Are your works for example, the video in the exhibition where the viewer is guided into searching for the four-leaf clover - dealing with what an artwork actually is?

NR: Yes, that's certainly what my work is about. Very often, I am looking at the preconditions for the genesis of things. And often with the desire to point out how straightforwardly and simply this notion of 'art' can be realized, especially in order to examine whether it might be situated somewhere else than where we might have imagined. In any event, that's what's going on in this video You make a piece, which happens while you are contemplating it. Meanwhile, the work itself is an a priori. To me, it's all about preparing and
processing and getting in there beneath the almost hallucinatory conceptions which exist around the act of creating art.


© 2001 Anders Kold, Lise Mortensen & Lise Jacobsen