EXTERN / Sofie Thorsen
Funen Art Academy
Jernbanegade 13, 5000 Odense
November 25, 2021 – January 23, 2022
The Most Beautiful Acquisitions
Scrolls of paper, plaster replicas of flint axes and clay imprints are spread across slim brass structures in the Sculpture Hall at Funen Art Academy. The room that once housed Odense City Museum’s sculpture collection now contains an assemblage of objects that defy usual expectations for museum artefacts. They are not originals, but copies and traces, and they do not adhere to the limits of the structures in which they are presented. Similarly, the exhibition cases are nothing more than rudimentary boxes which neither protect nor display the objects they hold.
Funen Art Academy is today located in the former premises of Odense City Museum. The museum’s very first collections consisted largely of ancient artefacts, and several of the individuals who founded the museum in 1860 were passionate about Denmark’s prehistory. These archaeological collections were also the last to be moved out of the building in 1989, before it was converted into an art museum and later, an art academy.
In the 1990s, the Museum embarked on an enormous project: the digitalisation of the countless objects listed in its acquisition records from 1860 to 1972. These thousands of objects are now available to the public online, in a series of albums on Flickr. Acquisitions from Protocol 2, which spans the years during which the museum was built, form the basis for visual artist Sofie Thorsen’s installation in the Sculpture Hall.
The contours of clay pots, stone axes, arrowheads and jewellery are the starting point for the installation’s numerous paper objects and frottages. The original objects are not visible in the exhibition, still stored in the museum’s depot or exhibited at Møntergården, but traces of them have returned to the building as temporary, and not particularly durable flat documents, three-dimensional only because the papers are rolled up.
Although the installation presents elements of a specific collection from a specific point in time in the history of Odense City Museums, it is, in fact, more about the history of the building as an exhibition space and the practice of exhibiting objects in the Sculpture Hall and in the spaces created by the brass structures. It is about plaster replicas and imprints, about giving temporary body to digital photos. It is also about the interplay between visible, accessible images and inaccessible, untouchable artefacts in a museum collection. About how an object can be miraculously preserved for thousands of years underground in a bog or a field and then discovered, only to disappear once again in a storeroom or archive, until every once in a while, someone comes along and holds it in their hand.