History: Post-Fluxus in China
The Hafnia group began in a small fishing village on the shores of the South China Sea.
There, Bjørn Nørgaard, Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Bård Breivik, Björn Roth, Chen Wengling, Stevens Vaughn and Rodney Cone, discovered a desire to explore not only the life of art but the art of life. In a village inundated by goats determined to squat in the way of paths and in porticoes, that found their repose in the delicately balanced moods of Ming Dynasty temples, a collective of post-Fluxus and international artists unexpectedly emerged.
Together, the Hafnia group discovered new potentialities that blurred the existing categories and strictures of modern art. In their time together, they daily enacted the idea that dialogue and play are the all-important engenderers of happenings that stretch the human sense of possibility.
In the 1990s, the Hafnia group journeyed to the historic island city of Gulangyu, Xiamen, China, homing themselves in an historical Art Deco building that overlooked the sea.
In Xiamen, the now Hafnia Foundation presented its first major exhibition, Terra Vita, in 2000, together with the Chinese European Art Centre. The 'Life of the Earth' developed through a dialogue between six sculptors with diverse homelands, from Cyprus, Denmark, the United States, China, and Iceland.
Together this group used various ceramic techniques, including those from the Ming Dynasty, to consummate a celebration of the old with the new, in a contemporary ceramics exhibition that realised human meanings born out from the potentialities of the earth.
In 2000, Bjørn Nørgaard, Stevens Vaughn and Rodney Cone became creative and technical advisors for the construction and creation of a crystal sarcophagus for Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II. This was the beginning of a 14 year process that culminated in the world's first contemporary arts sarcophagus. This crystal sarcophagus now sits in Roskilde Cathedral.
The Hafnia Foundation is currently the custodian of one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese propaganda posters. This collection is the product a unique period in historical time and abounds with representations of many subtle interchanges between social thought and the realms of imaginative possibility.
When exhibited, the collection unfolds a period of distinct artistic achievement, offering images of expansive hopes, dreams and multifarious visions, from posters that celebrate the revolution in women's education to those that re-interpret traditions of figure painting. This collection continues to be exhibited in Italy, Chile, Argentina and Denmark.
The Hafnia Foundation is the progenitor of the Nothing Gallery. The Nothing Gallery carries forward the spirit of the Fluxus by drawing the art of life into momentary exhibition spaces that protect and foster the freedom of play. Nothing has manifested exhibitions in corners and rooms across the world, from China to Chile.
Meaning: ‘Safe Harbour’
‘Hafnia’ is a Latin permutation of Old Norse and Danish meaning ‘port’ or ‘safe harbour’. Harbours or ports are transient gateways of alighting and leave-taking.
In modern speech, ‘Hafnia’ translates to Copenhagen, a port city. The Hafnia group has always found itself a resident of safe harbours. From the historic island city of Gulangyu to its current home of Valparaiso, these places have served as safe ports of return and residence for artists, from wherever they come.
Hafnia is an alchemical creation out of dialogue and play.
Throughout its life, it has absorbed influences from across Europe and Asia, from Daoist ontologies to post-Fluxus and post-Gutai.
However, just as the old harbours of the world are spaces of transience, open to the changing motions of the tides and numberless traversals of human feet, so Hafnia is more than any one school, movement or style. The work of the foundation responds and moulds itself to the forms of life in the countries and localities of its activities. For the Hafnia Foundation, art is in process and emerges into moments of sudden opalescences.
Throughout its life, it has and will continue to unfold spaces of potentiality in a universe of flux and flow. Hafnia offers its activities and thoughts as opportunities to people all over the world: it extends this invitation to all who desire to dance, pivot and play in the spaces between the notes.