There used to be a brickworks on Als island, where Augustenborg is situated. It is now a museum. But back when it was a brickworks, it littered bricks into the ocean. I don’t know why. The result is that along the shore, today, there are red stones that used to be bricks. Artist Vibe Bredahl takes these, grinds them down into pigment, and paints. On paper made with potatoes dug up from her garden, for works that trace the history of Augustiana, the palace of Princess Louisa, where peacocks used to roam.
We arrive at the exhibition opening a tad late. The speeches are almost done, the room packed, so we wait in the next room. There are frescoes above the doors. They are hunting scenes, 18th century if I had to venture a guess, of the type that the Pre-Raphaelites loathed so much they created a Brotherhood to protest against it. Vibe Bredahl echoes these hunting scenes instead. Her large paintings reference the royal hunts, the history of the palace-turned-art-gallery, and they are bright, contemporary. They mirror each other, across doorways, across the room, inside-outside. We are invited to add our own fingerprints to the works, for we are now also roaming this town, where Louisa Augusta, and Louisa Augusta, and so many Louisa Augustas roamed. They left their spor, their tracks, and so do we.
History mirrors itself, we make the same mistakes, we gild shit sometimes, the march continues and we leave so many tracks behind us.
This is the interpretation I hold today, knowing almost nothing about the history of the palace or Princess Louisa, or the town Augustenborg for that matter. I feel patient. Augustenborg will be visited again, I will learn its history, and this particular exhibition will hold even deeper layers of meaning, as it is intended to.
I am only disappointed that Vibe Bredahl’s paintings are only on paper, temporary, and not frescoes, a less temporary trace left on Augustiana.
Check out this excellent video interview with the artist, from her nearby studio, talking about the slow process of artmaking.