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Artist in Residence response to global problems

Media release
26 September 2008

Elam Artist in Residence offers practical responses to global problems

A Danish artist who is part of a visual arts collective offering "models" to a range of global problems is the current Elam Artist in Residence at The University of Auckland.

Bjornstjerne Christiansen is a member of SUPERFLEX, a three-man collective that utilises a variety of media to help identify and ameliorate political, social, economic and infrastructural problems facing peoples around the world. Their vast body of work includes collaborating with engineers and humanitarian groups to develop an energy system for rural Africa, developing one of the first interactive broadcasting "platforms" on the Internet, and designing sustainable open spaces in Copenhagen.

"The work of SUPERFLEX is all about social-economic practice, or artistic praxis. Unlike many visual artists, we don't just offer criticisms or critiques, we propose real solutions to real problems," says Bjorn, who will be based at Elam through the end of October. "Our fundamental premise is that there is too much ownership in terms of intellectual property, trademark and copyright laws, and this excess of power needs to be challenged. To this end, we make as much use of our aesthetic proficiency as our social commitment," he says.

"It is exciting to have an artist whose work so profoundly combines aesthetic sensibilities with practical applications and who, through visual arts, is realising the potential of collaboration," says Nuala Gregory, Head of Elam. "I am confident Bjorn's work will help inspire our students to incorporate real life issues into their work as visual artists."

During his residency at Elam, Bjorn will present a public lecture on SUPERFLEX's history and practice, present an exhibition at ARTSPACE and make a new work for the one-day sculpture project. He will also work with Elam students in group and individual critiques.

Bjorn Christiansen will present the lecture "SUPERFLEX TOOLS" at 6pm on 29 September at the Elam Lecture Theatre (20 Whitaker Place, Building 432). The lecture is part of the Easy Listening Series hosted by Elam, ARTSPACE and the Auckland Art Gallery. Bjorn will also mount an exhibition, "IF VALUE, THEN COPY", from 25 October at ARTSPACE (level 1, 300 Karangahape Road). For more information visit or

The Elam Residency Project was established in 1999 and is made possible by the generous sponsorship of arts patron Jenny Gibbs.

The University of Auckland's National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the School of Architecture and Planning, Elam School of Fine Arts, the Centre for New Zealand Art Research and Discovery (CNZARD), the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.


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