Growing Up Googie

A collaborative curatorial project and group exhibition with Emilie Bausager

Participating artists: Nanna Abell, Emilie Bausager, Joe Crowdy, Mads Juel, Tina Kryhlmann, Asta Lynge & Jakob Ohrt, Kirke Hundevad Meng, Nils Norman, Marie Vedel and Anna Ørberg

Installation view: Udstillingsstedet Sydhavn Station (Copenhagen, DK)
Photos by Kim Høltermand

Growing Up Googie derives its title from the architectural style ‘Googie’ that started in 1930s California. The style was a response to the pandemonium that prevailed around space travel and the space age. Exaggerated rounded roofs and geometric shapes were used to create a sense of movement mimicking the feeling of travelling in a spaceship.
Googie was a way of looking to the future by re-designing one’s surroundings. Today, the same approach is adopted among superstar architects in larger cities. We see this movement as a form of ‘Nouveau Googie’. Several generations have used this futuristic idea of tomorrow to create contemporary buildings, but as with the 1930s ‘Googie’, the buildings are becoming outdated and disappearing. With so much doubt as to what our future will look like, is it possible to imagine a new and sustainable way to look ahead and build for future generations?

Are “we” and “it” two separate things and how can such a distance be defined? Barriers can mean defining a clear separation between what is inside and what is outside. One of the greatest attempts of the past for self-protection and resistance to the wild outside is the Great Wall of China. If you look at a modern version of this anti-movement, where inside and out are separated, you will find the city’s terror pots, which are decorated and planted with 5 - 6 different plants, all of which probably originate outside Denmark.

By changing our relationship and thoughts surrounding nature and the wild and instead imagine something that is part of us and of which we are a part of, it gives us an opportunity to adapt. In feminist scientist Astrida Neimanis’ research she points out that nature and meteorology should be rooted in the body. In a global sense, meteorology aligns all individuals equally, but how we are affected is individual. By linking the body with the weather, we allow our imagination to visit lives and ecosystems other than our own thereby becoming a way to relate one another. In the exhibition Growing Up Googie, the artists delve into the many questions that surround the concept of land and their relationship to land.

Supported by Rådet for Visuel Kunst, the Danish Arts Foundation, and Augustinus Fonden

Posters & Billboard in Public Space

As part of our curatorial framework, Emilie Bausager and I prepared a number of collaborative works. This included a digital collage for the posterframes in the station's arrival hall - a visualization time jumble of our research that led up to the exhibition.
Nils Norman created the digital collage Snart vil alle dine naboer være billedkunstnere og arkitekter for the billboard on the outer wall of the station building that commented on gentrification of the Sydhavn area.

Exhibition Space

This space was used as a ‘classic’ gallery space with works by Nanna Abell, Asta Lynge & Jakob Ohrt, Emilie Basuager, Mads Juel and Marie Vedel.

Googie Library & Merchandise

While working with the exhibition space’s semi-public location, we wanted our exhibition to reflect this aspect by mimicing urban spaces, such as libraries, civic services, etc. -institutions that serve multiple functions and  work interactively. Therefore, we included the Googie Library with excerpts from our and the participating artist’s personal libraries. Books and texts that dealt with the discourses of the works and reflected the discussions prior to the exhibition.
The library held the sculptural work The Dewy Decimal System by Kirke Hundevad Meng which concerned the linguistics and structure used in public collections. Part of the library also included a merchandise store that sold digitally printed towels converted from the posterframes in the station hall, t-shirts/shirts that were hand-dyed using plant tennins and our publication Googie Times that contained texts and visual works by the artists.



Growing Up Googie Website

As the first lock-down hit Copenhagen just as the exhibition was due to open, we created the digital conversion of the exhibition
This allowed us to add new ways for visitors to interact with the project e.g. via music, a YouTube channel with podcasts and online movie screenings by some of the artists. The publication Googie Times and the merchandise could be ordered in the online store or alternatively received when we biked out with them. Art critis and writer Louise Steiwer was invited to see the exhibition and based on that to write a text based on her physical presence in the exhibition. An attempt to explained the works’ physicality, an aspect the viewers online not necessarily would perceive though the screen.