Family Reunion
Face to Face / Thorvaldsens museum 2020

What if we could put the marble back – take all the works from Thorvaldsens Museum, back to Carrara and re-insert them into the quarries from whence they came?
The photographic installation Family Reunion was created on a trip to Carrara undertaken by Recke in the autumn of 2019. Here he explored the marble quarry and reunited a piece of marble from the garden at Thorvaldsen’s honorary residence in Charlottenborg with its place of origin.

Family histories carry great weight. Quite literally so in the case of artist Nikolaj Recke, who grew up with one of his relatives having been hewn from marble. The specific work in question is a bust of German writer Elisabeth von der Recke, on display for eternal admiration at Thorvaldsens Museum.⠀

Nikolaj Recke’s family history is known, inscribed and embedded in European cultural history, but to him the bust of Elisabeth awakens an even stronger sense of curiosity about the history of the marble block itself: the portrait of Elisabeth is not just a vessel of family history, but of a wider, more universally human history.⠀

Recke points to the geopolitical consequences of immortalising people in marble. His investigations briefly set aside all consideration of the portrait as a work of art or as a depiction of a particular person. Instead, he calls our attention to mountains that now bear deep scars testifying to our desire for immortality. 

For millennia, countless tonnes of marble have been taken from the area around Carrara in northern Italy, leaving the mountains severed, carved and hollowed out in our search for ‘white gold’. The material is unique, but the supply is not infinite. One day, the mountains will have disappeared altogether.

See the very long (28 min) and slow photo/video here

Read more about Elisabeth Von der Recke here (only in Danish)

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