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Until Jan 26, 2020 Faithful and Diligent | Quivery heart

Kisten Astrup, Quivery heart. Photo: Mads Hoppe
''Ballad operas about a changing welfare society'' 
That’s how visual artist Kirsten Astrup (b. 1983) describes her two large-scale film cabarets, Faithful and Diligent (2017) and Quivery Heart (2018), which are being shown here side by side for the first time. Both of them are seductive and disturbing stories about the dismantling of the Danish welfare state, political short-sightedness and the ticking time-bomb of privatisation under collective solidarity and social cohesion. 

See photos from the exhibition here
Faithful and Diligent is Astrup’s graduation work from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and derives its title from the motto of the Royal Danish Post Office from the time of the absolute monarchy. The film takes place in the abandoned central post office building in Copenhagen, built in 1912, and which now in the spring of 2020 will symptomatically open as a luxury hotel. We follow a flamboyant group of staff in drag make-up and red post office uniforms, whose singing and dancing community – with added dramatic self-insight and papiermâché instruments – becomes an emblem of identity negotiation, labour market conditions and a postal service on the brink of collapse. 
Quivery Heart blends past, present and future in nine tableaux on the state railways in Denmark. The film takes its name from Johannes Buchholtz’ 1919 novel about a young railway assistant with big dreams. The diverse cast of both professional and amateur actors includes greedy property speculators, drag performers, train passengers, train stewardesses and even a queen. ''Life, Honour and Welfare'' is the chorus of one of the film’s many catchy songs, which Astrup composed herself with lyrics by her partner Maria Bordorff (b. 1988). This was a much-used phrase in Danish labour law, which meant that, as an employee, you had the right and the duty to down tools if your life, honour or welfare were threatened. Today, the wording has been changed to ''health and safety'' – a change which clearly speaks of a work culture and a view of human beings that has altered course. But for who? And in which direction? 
References to revue history and social satire, the artistic avant-garde of the 70s, and Danish film and TV classics such as The Olsen Gang are combined with aspects of the queer and marginalised in Astrup’s stinging study of ''our common welfare'' – as mezzo-soprano Nana Bugge Rasmussen sings in Renaissance Danish in the final scene of Quivery Heart

Facts in the fiction
The carefully composed universes of Faithful and Diligent and Quivery Heart did not just emerge out of the blue. Kirsten Astrup’s works have been created on the foundation of extensive research work undertaken in collaboration with Maria Bordorff. The exhibition gives you an opportunity to delve into some of the objects, film clips and documents that have inspired the artists to create the works. 

From Where We Stand – 7 Exhibitions on National Identity
The exhibition Faithful and Diligent | Quivery Heart - two film cabarets by Kirsten Astrup is Holstebro Kunstmuseum’s contribution to the regional exhibition initiative From Where We Stand – 7 Exhibitions on National Identity. The other participating museums are : Randers Museum of Art, Museet for Religiøs Kunst i Lemvig (Lemvig Museum of Religious Art), Horsens Art Museum, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (Ebeltoft Glass Museum), Skovgaard Museum and Skive Museum. Further information is available from the websites of the museums. The exhibition project is accompanied by a free magazine which presents the exhibitions and the theme of the project. 
Read the magazine online 

From Where We Stand - 7 Exhibitions on National Identity has been realised with the support of: