Michael Kvium invites us to CIRCUS EUROPA; his largest total installation to date, where he unfolds current events against a backdrop of circus stripes.

2 September 2017 to 14 January 2018


Michael Kvium, Stand Up Comedy, 2016 (detail). Photo: Anders Sune Berg

In CIRCUS EUROPA the audience is taken on a sensational journey through a broad palette of new artworks. Here we experience Kvium’s well known imagery in a theatrical universe that both hearkens back to his early work in performance and film in the 1980s and consists of completely new media. The paintings, films, sculptures and installations set the scene for a tale about Europe.

Europe in the spotlight

Through CIRCUS EUROPA Kvium sheds light on our current situation and the ongoing changes in Europe. The exhibition focuses on issues of tourism, entertainment, news, refugee crises, war and climate.

At the heart of CIRCUS EUROPA are questions of European identity and community in a time when fear, xenophobia and hostility grow stronger and divide us. Nevertheless, our daily lives continue – the show must go on! With the circus as a metaphor of our time, Kvium depicts a world of entertainment where even the most serious news is marked by sensation and drama. Kvium portrays the political scene and our daily lives as one big circus act.


Michael Kvium, The Art, 2017. Part of the series Contemporary Clowns. Photo: Lars Beyer

Welcome to centre stage


Michael Kvium, Illusion, 2016. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

We step into CIRCUS EUROPA as a comfortable and easy-going audience but the dramatic installations envelop us and draw us in before we notice it. We become part of a story of Europe that begins with seductive tricks and entertainment and develops into disturbing dystopia.

Tragicomic circus artistes entertain us with silly and morbid tricks. Through sharp irony and coarse humour Kvium exposes the absurdities in our society. The circus artistes perform for us and insistently confront us. Thus Kvium pulls us into the circus ring, in the middle of the buffoonery and madness, where he asks us: What role do we play in the CIRCUS EUROPA?


Michael Kvium, 2017

About Michael Kvium

The artist Michael Kvium (b. 1955) made his breakthrough on the art scene in the 1980s as part of the performance group Værst. Since then his signature media has been painting. Throughout his career he has addressed the existential themes of being human through his characteristic figurative imagery. Kvium has also done stage design for the theatre and exhibited all over the World.


Film about the artist

If you would like to hear more about Michael Kvium’s thoughts on CIRKUS EUROPA, you can watch Louisiana Channel’s interview with the artist right here.


Michael Kvium in his studio, 2016. Photo: Ken Hermann


Read an extract from the catalogue here. The catalogue costs DKK 129 and can be purchased at ARKEN SHOP or via arkenshop@arken.dk


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Also remember to follow ARKEN on @arkenmuseum.


The exhibition is supported by

Konsul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck’s Fond
Furi Appel og Gunnar
Niskers Fond til Almennyttige Formal
Danish Arts Foundation


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