What has D-Day to do with x-ray or Composition A with Y chromosome? For ARKEN’s autumn exhibition Jytte Hoy has created a historical alphabet which dons a different pair of glasses, taking a playful look at reality. It all began with two words that kept echoing in the Danish artist Jytte Hoy’s head: Composition A and D-Day. She had just finished reading about the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian’s abstract painting Composition A from 1920 and around the same time kept running into the word D-Day because of the sixtieth anniversary of the Allied invasion of the French coast in World War II.
– Those two words simply kept haunting me. They wanted something to do with each other. They just kept coming at me until one day it suddenly dawned on me: Composition A and D-Day – what do they have in common? They both have that initial. Aha, so we have a premise right there. What if I make it a premise for looking at the world altogether?
A secret alphabetical community
So Jytte Høy did just that. Now that epiphany is the governing principle behind the work that she is creating especially for her ARKEN exhibition this autumn. With A Historical Alphabet for You she contends that the initial-based words are interrelated in a special alphabetical and hitherto secret community.
The work comprises a selection of words like this. The first thing greeting the audience when entering the exhibition is a series of gigantic letters. Behind them are three massive partitions on which Jytte Høy has unfurled the individual words, either as text or through the use of images. The V sign, for instance, is illustrated with a photograph of Winston Churchill holding up his fingers, and with a nineteenth century erotic illustration of a naked woman whose spread legs make a V.
A spanner in the works
Jytte Høy renegotiates our perception of reality. By way of her criterion for selection - the initial letter – she mimes the method and taxonomy that distinguishes the world of science. At the same time she is fully aware that the version of history which her alphabet offers is pretty far fetched.
– The historical alphabet is a thing of my invention. It’s a way of attacking and challenging our outlook and the manner in which we organise chaos. We seem to have an immanent impulse to create order in the chaos around us. We build hierarchies and construct systems to regulate our world and make it recognisable, understandable. By doing so, we govern and direct our way of perceiving reality. I’d like to throw a spanner in the works there.
A sculpture graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1983-89), Jytte Høy lives and works in Copenhagen and Aarhus and since 1996 has been the director of the Jutland Academy of Fine Arts. Jytte Høy’s exhibitions include New Art from Denmark and Scania (Louisiana, 1997), Something Rotten (Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, 1998) and most
recently the solo show The Museum of Thought at Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center (2003). ARKEN owns six graphic works by Jytte Høy.