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Jeppe Hein (born 1974, Copenhagen, Denmark) is an artist based in Berlin and Copenhagen. Hein is widely known for his production of experiential and interactive artworks that can be positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect. Notable in their formal simplicity and frequent use of humor, his sculptures and installations engage in a lively dialogue with the traditions of Minimalism and Conceptual art of the 1970s. Hein’s works often feature surprising and captivating elements which place spectators at the centre of events and focus on their experience and perception of the surrounding space.
Hein studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art between 1997 and 2003 and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt between 1999 and 2000 (while registered as an associate student of the Danish Academy). As a student Hein was co-founder of OTTO, a non-commercial organisation which organised art exhibitions at various venues in Denmark between 1997 and 2000.
Motion in the form of fountains, light sculptures or other (aesthetic) things together with interaction, is at the center of Hein's work. His early works include labyrinths in various media (including mazes made of mirrors or motion-triggered sound) and sculptures that refuse to be static: they emit smoke and fire (Smoking Bench (2003) and Burning Cube (2005)), or are programmed to vibrate or jump when approached (Independent Pedestal (2002), Shaking Cube (2004), and Walking Cube (2004)).
Other works deal with the viewer's perception of the gallery space. In Moving Bench #2 (2000), museum seating is programmed when sat upon to carry the visitor the length of the gallery space.Changing Space (2003) is a wall that slowly moves through the gallery room. The movement is too slow to perceive at first glance, but is noticed more and more as the wall are closing in on the spectator. The white surface blends perfectly in with the surrounding walls, placing the work in a cross point between sculpture, architecture and installation art.Field of Visions (2005) is a six-angled box mounted on a steel structure. On each of the six sides, a hole is cut out for the visitor to look into. Contrary to what instinct suggests, the viewers are not able to see through to the opposite hole. A mirror has, in fact, been placed diagonally inside the box, so that the viewer instead looks out of the holes on the left or right of him or her.
Hein has created a series of dysfunctional Modified Social Benches: Modified Social Bench C (2007) is entirely circular, with the seating beyond easy reach on the inside; the seat of Modified Social Bench A (2006) is jacked up on a hydraulic spring and needs to be pushed down if one is to sit down. The functional surface of Modified Social Bench E (2006) looks as though it has melted and drooped onto the ground. During the summer of 2009, Hein placed ten of these benches throughout the city of Aarhus. Envisioned as one long bench that emerges from the ground, twists, turns and submerges again, and forming a circuit around a lake, Bench Around the Lake is a series of 15 vivid yellow benches along the bordering bank of the White River. Hein envisions the installation. Other benches are permanently located in, among others, the Montenmedio Sculpture Park, Cadiz, Spain; Miami and Helsinki.
In the summer of 2006, Hein installed Appearing Rooms, an aquatic pavilion, at London's South Bank outside the Royal Festival Hall, enclosing visitors behind walls of water that rose and fell at random. In 2008, he collaborated with Dan Graham on a temporary pavilion in Cologne.
At Houghton Hall in Norfolk, the Marquess of Cholmondeley commissioned an "artlandish" folly in a scale appropriate for a five-acre walled garden. Hein created a site-specific outdoor sculpture for this space. In all seasons, this jet of water surmounted by a ball of flame illustrates a 21st-century folly on a smaller scale than other contemporary land art pieces in the parkland outside the garden enclosure. The work is intended "to surprise viewers and make them question what they are seeing." Hein wants to elicit
"... an incongruous dialogue between the art and the viewer and to use humour to broaden the limits of conceptual art. I want to show that the work isn’t anything on its own, it is only what the public informs it with. The viewers’ role brings the piece to the centre of attention."
Between September 2009 and January 2010, Hein stayed at Alexander Calder’s studio in Saché, France, as a part of an artist in residence programme.
Hein has had solo exhibitions at the Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2013), at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2011); the Neues Museum, Nürnberg (2010); Indianapolis Museum of Art (2010);Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus (2009);Sculpture Center, New York; and P.S.1 MOMA, New York (2004). He has participated in solo and group exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Tate Modern, London; Barbican Art Centre, London (2007); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; MOCA, Los Angeles; and 50th Venice Biennale (2003). Catalogues of Hein's work have been published by ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Musée d'art contemporain de Nîmes, Koenig Books, Villa Manin, and the Centre Pompidou. Hein lives and works in Berlin.