Posters throughout NYC
Danish artist Jens Haaning frequently invokes social borders in his art, depicting and emphasizing issues of co-existence and the exclusion of marginalized groups. Through open-ended representations of foreign cultures fused with symbols of the majority culture, Haaning makes the artwork’s effect on the viewer its primary focus.
Jens Haaning has produced posters featuring an Arab joke written in Arabic script. Installed on the streets of New York City, interspersed among the movie and club posters, the typical joke offers a laugh to those who can read it, and may evoke feelings of dislocation and confusion among those who cannot.
Haaning’s simple gesture highlights the divisions revealed during a year marked in Europe by violent riots among France’s immigrant youth and the furor over Danish satirical depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, alongside the renewed American struggle with immigration policy and the hostilities and fear directed toward those of Arab descent in this country since 9/11 and the continuing military conflicts in the Middle East.
TRANSLATION OF POSTER
A Grain of Wheat
When Guha lost his mind, he started to believe that he was a grain of wheat. His biggest fear was that a chicken would eat him. His wife became tired and persuaded him to see a doctor, which he did. The doctor sent him to a mental hospital.
After a short while, it seemed as though Guha had recovered and regained his sanity. His wife fetched him from the hospital and walked him back home. On the way home, Guha saw some chickens walking on the road. He became very frightened and tried to hide behind his wife.
The wife could not understand what had got into him as they had just left the hospital and shouted at him: "What the hell do you think you are doing? Don’t you understand that you’re not a grain of wheat anymore?"
Guha replied in anguish, "It doesn’t matter what I think! The important thing is whether these bloody chickens understand that I am not a grain of wheat."
JENS HAANING is a Danish artist based in Copenhagen, who frequently invokes social borders in his art, depicting and emphasizing issues of co-existence and the exclusion of marginalized groups. Through open-ended representations of foreign cultures fused with symbols of the majority culture, Haaning makes the artwork’s effect on the viewer its primary focus. Haaning’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions around the world, with recent one-person exhibitions at the Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark; Rote Zelle, München, Germany; and the Galleri Antonio Molina, Copenhagen, Denmark. Other venues for solo exhibition include the Goodwater gallery in Toronto, Canada; Espai 13, Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, Spain; L68 in London, Great Britain; the Gallery Mehdi Chouakri in Berlin, Germany; and the Forum Galleriet in Malmö, Sweden. In the United States, Haaning’s work has appeared in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the San Francisco Art Institute catalogue, San Francisco. Haaning’s work has appeared in group exhibitions abroad at the Espace Culturel François Mitterrand, Périgueux, France; the Illeana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens, Greece; the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and the Centre d’Art Contemporaion, Geneva, Switzerland, among others. Responsible for numerous public art projects, Haaning’s permanent public works include “Turkish Jokes” at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, The Netherlands, and “Afghanistan 5012 km” at Leidsche Rijn, in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Haaning attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Akademie der Bildende Künste in München, Germany.