The Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Denmark, is in the process of restoring The Disquieting Duckling (1959), a painting by artist Asger Jorn that was vandalized late last month. The perpetrator, Danish artist Ibi-Pippi Orup Hedegaard, glued a photograph of herself onto the painting and signed her name in black permanent marker.
Ibi-Pippi, who was arrested shortly afterward, took to Facebook on the same day to explain that the additions were intended as a comment on Jorn’s methods. To make the original work, Jorn found a pastoral landscape painting at a flea market and painted over it a large, garishly colored duck. This method, typical of his work, is known as “détournement.” Ibi-Pippi explained in her post that the additions were intended as a “double modification” of Jorn’s original “modification”
The museum’s director, Jacob Thage, told Artnet News that the restorers arrived quickly to the scene and were able to remove most of the glue, but are still deciding how to remove a section that had already dried.
“We are hoping for a full restoration but we do not know yet,” Thage said, adding that restorers have predicted the work might take months. The older paint on the canvas, from before Jorn’s additions, is particularly fragile.
Ibi-Pippi claims to have accidentally used the wrong tube of glue, having intended to apply a more gentle adhesive. She told the Danish station TV 2 East Jutland, “I am sorry that the work was mutilated to the extent it was.”
Explaining her motivations to TV 2 East Jutland, Ibi-Pippi, who uses her first name and female pronouns since stating that she identifies as “a lesbian woman trapped in a man’s body,” said that the act was intended to spark a conversation around ownership.
“Many believe that it is Jorn who has ownership but I completely disagree,” she said. “Jorn had purchased the work and thus had a legal right to the image, but he had no artistic right to delete another artist’s work. No more than I have to delete his work.”
It has been suggested that the act was intended as a right-wing provocation after it was live-streamed on the Facebook page Patrioterne Går Live, which translates as “patriots go live.” The video shows that the right-wing artist Uwe Max Jensen was present at the museum with Ibi-Pippi. Last year, Jensen caused considerable controversy with a performance in which he applied blackface and appeared to mimic the death of George Floyd at the Polish state museum’s “Political Art” exhibition.
Ibi-Pippi now faces charges of destroying museum property. She told the TV station, “I stand by my actions, and I stand by the legal consequences.”
The painting was not hung behind protective glass, but the “act of vandalism will force us to rethink the presentation,” Thage said. “We have always tried to present our collection as it was intended by the artists, but the use of art for [attracting] attention or personal promotion will change our approach.”
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