Henrik Plenge Jakobsen

Deep Space Ornamentation
INCA: 2 West Roy St. Seattle, WA, 98110
Exhibition: 22 April – 11 June 2016
Opening: 22 April 7:30-9:30pm
Opening hours: Wednesday-Saturday 4-8pm
Curated by Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas


Deep Space Ornamentation is a sequence of eight silkscreen prints and one nonrepresentational sculpture. The silkscreens on canvas consist of enlarged labels from 12 inch and 7 inch vinyl records from the Detroit techno and house scene of the period 1981 – 1991. All the labels have kept the original graphic contour, but with slight distortions such as altered color profiles. The silkscreens can be perceived as an acknowledgment of a fundamental mental and inspirational material for the artist, namely the interface between funk and futurism with this repetitive and synthesized music from this particular scene represented. Early Detroit techno artists employed science fiction imagery to articulate visions of a transformed society, and using mainly Japanese-made electronic instruments, they promoted ideas such as erotic emotions, space travel, Afrofuturism and anti-authoritarian strategies. This exhibition is an abstract tribute to the beauty of the movement.

Henrik Plenge Jakobsen was born in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he continues to live and work. Jakobsen uses a range of media, including performance, video and installation. His practice explores the capabilities and limitations of our spectacular culture. Plenge Jakobsen has exhibited and performed for the last 25 years in artist run spaces, galleries, biennales and museums worldwide. Recent exhibitions include Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris; Galleri ZK, Berlin; The Suburban, Oak Park, Chicago; FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou; Moderna Museet, Stockholm ;Musee d’Art Contemporain, Lyon; CAC, Vilnius; Stedjeliik Museum, Amsterdam; Frankfuter Kunstverien, Frankfurt; ICA – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, United Kingdom, and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Plenge Jakobsen studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1987-94, Ecole Nationale Supérieur des Beaux Arts and Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art plastique, Paris, France, from 1992-93.


Curatorial Statement by Bergman & Salinas:

Circular affinities between American and European underground culture producers connect unlikely allies. First wave techno from the 1980’s was relatively obscure in Detroit during its contemporary period. However, the “Belleview Three”, Atkins Saunderson and May, regularly sold out massive gigs across Northern Europe. Avoiding expensive high-end studios and major record labels, Detroit Techno producers made Afrofuturist sounds on cheaply available synths and drum machines (notably Japanese-made 303 and 909 drum machines) at home in bedroom studios and then distributed their work via record labels they created themselves. Sociologist Tukufu Zuberi noted the importance of “production process and institutions created by Black musicians” who invented their own reality.

The music itself was a hybrid of American funk, Chicago house, and European synth. Derrick May described it as a “complete mistake…like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator, with only a sequencer to keep them company.” A radical Afrofuturism is present in the entire Detroit Techno project, made obvious by titles such as Model 500s “No UFO’s”. The more overt social protest of the musician collective, and label Underground Resistance, on the other hand, could be seen as a direct connection to the Black Panthers, who were extremely active in Detroit. UR musician DJ Dex said “UR and techno music stimulated my imagination and helped me realize there was more to life than short term pay-offs and accepting the reality that was handed to me.”

Messages of DIY futurism resonated particularly among the working classes of England, Holland and Germany who celebrated the music and the musicians. Clubs across Europe were filled with the sounds of Detroit. Entire waves of musicians were influenced in turn, and not for the first time. Bill Moody wrote about American Jazz ”In Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, and Amsterdam, American jazz musicians found appreciation, acceptance, and acclaim. Black musicians found in addition a far less hostile racial atmosphere.” The European techno scene could relate to black American musicians without the racial hostility and popular indifference the musicians faced at home. Acceptance and money back at home would be very slow coming.


With support from the Danish Art Council