‘The New Carlsberg Foundation received a highly unusual application that we just couldn’t turn down’, said board member Morten Kyndrup in his speech at the opening of the new art room at Bakkehuset (Hill House). Den nye hjørnestue (The New Corner Salon) was created by Morten Søndergaard in collaboration with cabinetmaker Teis Dich Abrahamsen and curator Annesofie Becker. In addition to the trio, several ‘guest artists’ and inventor Peer Klausen also contributed to the installation. The different contributions to the project reflect the wide range of thinkers, artists and scientists who frequented the historical corner salon.
A romanticist hot spot
Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek made their home a diverse, creative and lively meeting place for some of the leading figures of romanticism during the Danish ‘Golden Age’. Among the prominent guests in Kamma Rahbek’s cosy corner salon were poet Adam Oehlenschläger, writer Hans Christian Andersen, scientist H. C. Ørsted, writer Grundtvig and hymnist B. S. Ingemann. Here, they would engage in intimate conversations, discuss current affairs, read from their latest writings, offer critique, listen and learn.
The new corner salon reflects the past
The intention of Den nye hjørnestue was to create a contemporary reflection of the historical salon. Thus, the new corner salon is located on the first floor of Bakkehuset, immediately above the original one. On the walls are 29 word boxes, one for each letter in the Danish alphabet. The content of the boxes is varied and offers room for reflection on personal as well as wider social issues. In the middle of the room, of course, is a table with eight chairs, a twin of the table in the downstairs room. After spending some time in the salon, one begins to discover the many threads linking the building’s past and presence. The word boxes with their hidden content refer to Kamma Rahbek’s ‘magical boxes’, and the chestnut table is also a nod to the large chestnut tree in the courtyard of Bakkehuset.
Morten Søndergaard renders language tangible
A central feature in the history of Bakkehuset is language and the many words that have been spoken and written. Morten Søndergaard’s artistic practice is rooted in poetry and the verbal domain. In recent years, he has moved into the visual field, rendering language into spatial and tangible form. While he was living in the honorary artist residence at Bakkehuset in 2007–12 he created the exhibition Bakkehusalfabetet (Hill House Alphabet), which has now evolved into Den nye hjørnestue.