My name is Henriette Hellstern and I am a Danish abstract expressionist and performance artist.
Why do you do what you do?
I am interested in investigating human behaviour, our bodies and the surroundings. I try to visualize all that, by creating stories and visions with humour and sometimes obscure atmosphere, that opens up for questions.
How do you work?
I work after a dogma that says an artwork has to be alive. This liveliness from e.g. my own body’s movement, a handmade costume, a stroke on the canvas creates a language I can express myself from, and connect with the audience. I also enjoy working with impulse and often use the first take from a video performance and stay away from editing; it adds a freshness.
What’s your background?
I have a MFA from Funen Art Academy and has had the body, nature and anatomy as core subjects for a long time. I grew up in the outskirts, where nothing happened. Being the only lesbian in a conservative religious little town that did not accept homosexuality was challenging. I decided when I was old enough to move out, I would do whatever I felt like doing and never be dull. I will always be free, and what is better than art to set you free?
How do you think the current (coronavirus epidemic) situation could affect artists and their local communities?
I can see already now, and Denmark is on the second day of lockdown, that some of my fellow artists are trying to sell more of their artworks online, seeking cleaning jobs or just biting their nails. I have chosen to see it as a “residency” in my own studio, and take it as a challenge to only focus on my art every waking hour, so maybe really not that different from any other day.
Do you think the government should ensure culture does not disappear during these difficult times?
Yes, but I don’t think it is first priority from the government. Right now people are more concerned about toilet paper than art. Maybe I should make an artwork about that?
Is the current situation impacting your art practice?
No, I have always worked with my art dedicated and focused, I enjoy the silence and less pollution. It will only influence me not going out seeing new art. But I can see that my freedom/revenge theme mirrors the situation really good. Also my questions: SAS2020 kids are not in school so I have made a school for drawing, with new tasks every day.
What role does the artist have in society?
The artist is to be a channel that has an ability to process and visualize everything that is going on around us. Contemporary art, and maybe especially performance and video art is not getting the applause it should have. I find comfort and hope in many contemporary artworks, as well as contemporary music and litterateur.
How has your practice changed over time?
Yes. I have a higher and higher standard for my artworks but I still hold on to the first take/freshness and liveliness I always seek. I want to develop through my whole life as a person and as an artist.
What themes do you pursue?
I am very much into seeking freedom and also work with the theme revenge. I want us to understand how great it is to live in the west, and all the possibilities we have. And keep having open hearts to the unknown. And I also enjoy adding beats to my videos in various ways; I used to be a drummer in different bands.
Should art be funded?
Yes always and forever.
What research do you do?
I research anatomy in the baroque and renaissance, lesbian poetry and quirky performances.
What is your dream project?
An exhibition with my favourite female artists rocking the world.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To keep being curious and never let my passion die.
Any final thoughts?
I am happy to be part of this Show Anything Show, and I hope it will be fantastic. I love the title!