Symposium: Making Room

  • Date: -

A symposium on artists, institutions and artist’s institutions during the Modern Breakthrough and today
Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Oslo Plads 1, DK – 2100 Copenhagen

The symposium Making Room runs over two days and aims at investigating and discussing the relation between contemporary artist-run spaces and the early artist associations and institutions of the Modern Breakthrough in the Nordic countries. The programme includes a number of talks, a lecture performance, with two excursions to The Hirschsprung Collection and the artist-run exhibition space, Sydhavn Station.

The symposium questions how artists’ own institutions interplay with other institutions and whether or not they can – or ought to – be seen as practising an alternative institutional critique, if they are foremost a form of artistic practice, or simply function as strategic stepping stones for upcoming artists.

Many of the institutional structures of the art world, which we still work within today, developed in the second half of the 19th century. Most notable is the evolving relationship between academies, collectors, museums and audience, and the way in which this acted as a catalyst for artist associations and organisations both in the Nordic countries and in the rest of Europe. Making Room wishes to draft a history of artists’ breaks from their institutions in a Nordic context and to look at the motivations and terms of today’s self-organised art spaces. 

The symposium is organised as a collaboration between the project Nordic Art. The Modern Breakthrough. at the University of Leeds (led by Professor David Jackson), The Hirschsprung Collection and Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art. 

Organisers: Hannah Heilmann, visual artist and Post Doctoral Research Assistant at University of Leeds and Marie Thams, visual artist, project coordinator at Den Frie.

The symposium and the publication will be in English.

The symposium is kindly supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, AHRC, Grosserer L.F. Foghts Foundation and The Danish Arts Council. 


Day 1, October 31 – The Modern Breakthrough:

Moderator: Hannah Heilmann

David Jackson (UK), Professor at the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds:
Welcome and short introduction

Hannah Heilmann (DK), visual artist, art historian and Post Doctoral Research Assistant at University of Leeds:
History lesson for contemporary artists

Kitty Corbet Milward (UK), PhD student at The Royal Academy, London/Edinburgh University:
Norwegian Middle Class Woman in the Interior – differing strategies of female painters, bohemians and writers

Mikkel Thelle (DK), director of The Danish Centre for Urban History, Aarhus:
The development of urban practices in Copenhagen around 1900

Visit to The Hirschsprung Collection incl. introduction by Anna Schram Vejby:
Walking coffee and refreshments. Coffee ‘to go’ is served, and we walk through Østre Anlæg

Michael Bank Christoffersen (DK), curator at HEART Herning Museum of Contemporary Art:
Modern art economy from the end of the 19th century to today

Jan Cox (UK), PhD student at the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds: ‘By Stream and by Shore’ – Nordic Painters in Artists Colonies

Questions and discussion

Day 2, November 1 – The contemporary scene:

Moderator: Marie Thams

Visit to the artist run exhibition space Sydhavn Station incl. introduction by Anne Skole Overgaard and Morten Jacobsen: we meet at Den Frie and go by train to Sydhavn Station

Lunch and refreshments ‘to go’ on the train back to Den Frie

Arrival at Den Frie

Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg (DK), artistic director at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art:
Three generations of artist initiated exhibitions

Henrik Plenge Jakobsen (DK), visual artist:
The Oslo Case

3 pm
Kirstín Scheving (IS), visual artist and curator:
Building new scenes in Iceland – a personal case study about the independent scene and a new department for video and new media art at the Icelandic National Gallery

Coffee and refreshments

Honza Hoeck (DK), visual artist and member of Toves Galleri:
50 Years in the Life of Toves – artist-run practices in prospective

Hugo Hopping (US), visual artist and co-founder of the working group The Winter Office:
Antagonism and mobility

End discussion and conclusions from the two-day symposium

Price: 150DKK/100DKK for students. The price covers both days plus entrance to Den Frie, The Hirschsprung Collection, train tickets to Sydhavn Station, food and drinks.

For registration and information about payment, please send an e-mail to marked “registration MAKING ROOM”.

For more information please visit