Nina Beier and Marie Lund
Beier and Lund present a trilogy of works that interrogate the social fabric and institutional culture of the ICA.
Nina Beier (born Aarhus, Denmark, 1976, lives in London) and Marie Lund (born Hundested, Denmark, 1975, lives in London) have been working as a duo since 2003. With staged events as well as videos, photographs and sculptures, Beier and Lund tinker with social hierarchies and group dynamics. They often start by issuing a simple set of instructions that participants – both collaborators and audience members – are free to interpret.
In the recent intervention All the People at Tate Modern (2007), Beier and Lund strategically positioned members of Tate staff around the building and asked them to start applauding at a set time. A few posters stuck on the museum's walls also invited visitors to clap. Video documentation of the event shows this clapping, which starts shyly but soon turns into a roaring wave of applause. Mass participation quickly becomes the norm in such a situation, but Beier and Lund's interest lies in when such behavior becomes 'abnormal'. Not only did All the People at Tate Modern disturb the religiously silent atmosphere expected in an art gallery, but it also blurred the usual boundaries between the public and museum professionals – all temporarily united in the shared experience of an extraordinary standing ovation.
For The Division (2007), a work staged at Tate Britain, Beier and Lund announced that 50 beautiful people had been invited to the event. Without any further information, visitors were left to eye each other up and divine who those fabulous guests might be. Like many of the artists' situations, The Division was as much a physical intervention in a group – the audience – as it was the creation of an imaginative space where anyone was a potential participant. However, the work's title also implies that beauty is a divisive force, stigmatising those who may not be deemed conventionally attractive.
The underlying awkwardness of social interactions is a recurring feature in Beier and Lund's production, and the interventions they have staged for Nought to Sixty extend these concerns. The first of these works, The Artist (2008), was announced in the May issue of the Nought to Sixty magazine. A black-bordered caption simply stated that a previous ICA exhibitor, who has since stopped their professional art practice, would be invited to the Nought to Sixty launch. During the opening night, Beier and Lund were frequently approached by people suggesting possible candidates for this mysterious figure. For The Witness (2008), meanwhile, a gallery attendant at the ICA has agreed to grow his beard and hair for the six-month period of Nought to Sixty – personifying the duration of the project as a whole. The final part of the trilogy is An Encore, for which a music act that recently performed at the ICA, has been invited to return to the scene and repeat every gesture of the original evening. As a group, the trilogy underlines the importance of context and – by exploring the hierarchical position of participants – Beier and Lund highlight the institution's own contradictory position as both a risk-taking art laboratory and a supposedly authoritative, 'culture-making' organization.