The brand-new site-specific work Orakel, en animation 2018 (Oracle, an Animation 2018) at University College Copenhagen was created by visual artist Ann Lislegaard. The neon owl, which has a wingspan of more than eight metres, is installed on an atrium wall at Campus Carlsberg, eleven metres above the floor. In a cyclical sequence, the owl spreads its wings, takes off and flies, the sequential motions animated by a network of neon tubes. The piece was realized with a grant from the New Carlsberg Foundation.
The oracle owl
Ann Lislegaard has many years’ experience with a variety of media and is known especially for incorporating new technology into her artistic work. She draws inspiration from the science fiction genre as an alternative approach to narratives and to the social and psychological structures that we rely on to make sense of the world. Lislegaard is interested in the owl as a sort of oracle, a harbinger.
‘At an early stage in the process I decided that the decoration should not be a still image of an owl. It had to perform and be in motion, like an animation. During recent decades more than three million birds have disappeared in Denmark alone. The neon owl may be seen as a meeting place that also reminds us that we can change the way we live. The owl takes off, rises and dreams of flying – also in the future,’ says Ann Lislegaard.
Karsten Ohrt, chairman of the New Carlsberg Foundation, says:
‘Traditionally, the owl has been present in educational institutions as a modest and stoical reminder of the cultural and academic learning that awaits the students in their daily activities. But as always in Ann Lislegaard’s work, the piece contains something other and more than what is immediately apparent. Her owl at Campus Carlsberg has something new to offer every time we look at it. Its meditative rhythm and impressive scale appear to invite both contemplation and lofty thoughts. The Irma Hen at Sortedams Dossering on the Copenhagen Lakes has some serious competition now.’
The role of art in an educational environment
University College Copenhagen has embraced art as a key element in the design of the educational environment at Campus Carlsberg. Rector Stefan Herman says:
‘At Campus Carlsberg, art should play a prominent role and act as a co-creative factor in this environment of studies and learning. By assigning art a central role, we enhance the building’s architectural identity as well as its cultural and social cohesion. That promotes life, learning and well-being. We are very grateful for the impressive new work of art that the New Carlsberg Foundation has donated to University College Copenhagen .’