Kirsten Justesen

Born 1943

A pioneer of Body art, Kirsten Justesen is best-known for her feminist performances and sculptures that center on her nude body and address issues of gender, politics, physics, and time.

She graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1975 with a degree in classical sculpture yet always pushed beyond the conventional idea of sculpture as a static and permanent form. She notes, “You have the body, the icon of sculpture in all its long tradition on the plinth. I started exploring the space around, formulating dimensional pieces that are not only the sculpture/body but the actions, positions, and decisions that you can play with.”

In her performances (and the photographs she makes to record them), Justesen does not appear as the passive model historically depicted by male artists. Rather, she dances, paints, runs a vacuum cleaner, moves slabs of ice, and climbs through rugged landscapes.

Justesen often incorporates ice as an artistic element, as it is an apt metaphor for the processes and changes to which the body is subject. More recent works, including Portræt I Arkiv Med Samling (2013), also in NMWA’s collection, investigate relationships between the body, space, and language. In addition to sculpture and performances, Justesen’s artistic production includes photography, video, and scenography.  

National Museum of Women in the Arts