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Alena Marchwinski

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    he article interprets Christen Købke's painting View of the Cast Collection at Charlottenborg as the depiction of an encounter between a concrete subject and the Other in the form of the remains of the past. The encounter with these remains articulates the identity of the viewing subject and partly disrupts it by constituting a movement toward the alien and the unknown.Yet this movement exists only as an unrealized possibility, since Købke not only constructs an opposition but also maintains it. The gaze of the man in the cast collection is confronted with the ruins of the past, which thematize the connection between loss and longing, and at most admit insight into the fragmentary. The fact that these fragments are casts is significant. After all, casts are only empty shells, resembling death masks of the sculptures that served as their sources. While they do give these sculptures a physical presence, they do it in a weak and lifeless way, which emphasizes how inaccessible the original really is. Nevertheless, Købke's painting is neither tragic nor melancholic in expression. Despite the man in the cast collection's limited field of vision, he insists on his role as observer, meticulously examining what is still available for inspection. The man's analytical approach suggests that he is a child of the same bourgeois ideals and methods of cultural upbringing that lay behind the creation of the cast collections themselves. He does not appear as an inspired seer in a moment of oblivion, but rather as a detached observer aware of every detail in his pursuit of insight. Underlying the careful effort exemplified by this man, however, a desire to control the Other seems manifest: a disregard of the Other's resistance to analysis and thus also a wish to subordinate it to the domain of the viewing subject.
    Original languageDanish
    JournalKunst og kultur
    Issue number03
    Pages (from-to)167-176
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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