Lise Harlev 26.4 – 22.05


Lise Harlev contributes to RoofTop with the work A Common Name. The work is shaped, white on blue by three text pieces broken up by a row of different icons. The icons are recognizable. They function as navigators in public space and can e.g. be seen on signs for Found Property Offices, baggage storage, key duplication services and ATMs. Thus, the well-known signs Harlev visualizes can be a permanent part of the visual environment one can find at Copenhagen Central Station and other spaces of transit.

With the title A Common Name Harlev’s work circles around the meaning of a name and the relation between a person and its predicate. A name can shape and reveal much about its owner whatever the name is given, taken or wrongly bestowed if spelled wrong. The work’s icons; the gloves, the keys, the pen and the wallet are symbols for that which can be called ‘personal belongings’ – that which most people always carry with them or that which can even say to represent a person. But the icons also contain several other meanings and can therefore not only be understood as image communications. They contain associations that stretches themselves in countless directions such as physical contact, access and safety, communication and value. Such associations are, like a name, part of the creation of an individual.

The ambiguity that can be read parallel with the icons’ official statements are complimented by Harlev’s textual messages. The sentences on the sign are a sort of maxims which in their tone pretend to be neutral truths but in reality, they are open to discussion and multiple sided. New meanings can arise in the relation between text and image where well-known icons all of a sudden are dissolved by textual statements and instead show themselves as new illustrative approaches to what it means to be an individual.

Lise Harlev (1973 DK) is educated at The Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2002, she has lived in Berlin and she often exhibits in Denmark and internationally, latest at Galerie MøllerWitt and Tallinn Art Hall. In 2016 she published the short prose collection Jeg er aldrig ligeglad, which recently where published in its English translation at the publishing house Broken Diamanche Press. Harlev’s works are represented in several private and public collections such as The National Gallery of Denmark’s permanent collection.