Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen
Promised Land

22 May - 23 June 2013

Dilston Grove

London, UK

Past exhibition

The vast raw space of Dilston Grove welcomes three works by the internationally acclaimed artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen. Since graduating in 2001, Danish artist Larsen has primarily been working with film and video.

Often his video works are poetic depictions of communities and places. His subject matter takes its departure in ‘real life’issues - and in the past few years displacement and migration has been his main area of research.

For this exhibition, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen presents:

1. Promised Land
New Edited Version For Single Screen, 47 minutes, HD. 5.1 surround sound. 2012

The film work portrays Mohammed, Jafar, Hasan, Camron, Khan, Reza and his three year old son, Nima - young migrants who will go to any length to cross the Channel from the French seaport town of Calais to enter Britain in the hope of finding a better life. Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen’s Promised Land combine beautiful cinematography with footage captured by migrants to give a deep insight into their close friendships, their hopes, dreams and ways of coping with the misery of their situation, their journeys from war-torn regimes, and dangerous attempts at getting into Britain - their Promised Land. The forthcoming exhibition at Dilston Grove marks the first London staging of this now celebrated film work.

2. Ode to the Perished
12 suspended sculptures; concrete canvas, organisms from the Aegean Sea, dimensions variable. 2011

Every year, thousands of migrants cross the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece. Operated by human trafficking mafias, they fill the vessels (often beyond capacity) with migrants willing to risk everything to reach the shores of the European Union. Often, the migrants’ journeys end in peril – drowned at sea. The suspended shapes in Ode to thePerished are made of Concrete Canvas™, a material used as emergency key infrastructure for disaster relief. Its use relates directly to why people have to flee their war-torn homes in search for a new safe place to live. The finished shapes were immersed in the Aegean sea for months developing the same patina of algae that objects floating in thesea over long periods acquire.

3. Memorial
Large-scale wall piece. 2013

One year after Larsen completed Promised Land he returned to Calais to photograph the hideouts and hidden camps inhabited by migrants. The scenes were carefully lit with flash to draw the spectator’s attention to the centre of the photographs where he had created anthropomorphic shapes from the decomposing sleeping bags and blankets. These cocoon like shapes allude to the shapes in Larsen’s installation Ode to the Perished (2011). They allow for a double reading: The cocoon can be seen as a promise of a metamorphosis. However, the shapes can also be read as makeshift bodybags. Each photo is titled in remembrance of a person who either featured in Promised Land (2011), or individuals that the artist got to know during the production of the film, and whose destiny remain unknown.

Press acclaim for Nikolaj Larsen

This is more than worth your time and attention.

Because Magazine

The intense sound track and the many poetic and at times brutal video sequences filmed both by Larsen and by the migrants themselves give an insight into their freindship, hopes, dreams and fears.

Katrine Ree Holmøy, Klassekampen

The video essay gives a unique insight into thoughts and dreams of people on the run. The determined desire to have a good life is universal, but we who already have jobs and roofs over our heads take the good life for granted. My reaction to Promised Land is spontaneous, naive and solution-oriented but I am in despair: What can I do?"

Solveig Lønmo, Adressa-avisen

The current situation of economic crisis, social unrest, and political change in Arab and Mediterranean countries is addressed in several politically oriented works. For example... Nikolaj Larsen's Ode to the Perished, 2011, an installation about the tragic journeys of immigrants.

Louisa Avgita, Art Forum

In partnership with

CGP London

CGP London manages Cafe Gallery and Dilston Grove in Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London.


Curated by

Mark Sealy

Mark Sealy, MBE is the Director of Autograph ABP. He is currently a PhD candidate at Durham University, his research focuses on photography and cultural violence.

Ron Henocq

Ron Henocq is the director of CGP London, which manages two important contemporary art spaces in Southwark Park.

With kind support from

Danish Arts Council Committee for Visual Arts

The Danish Arts Council promotes artistic development in Denmark as well as Danish outside of Denmark.



Press contact

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Lois Olmstead at Autograph ABP - phone 020 7720 92200 or email lois@autograph-abp.co.uk

Additional Info

Dilston Grove
Southwark Park
London SE16 2DD
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7237 1230

Wednesday to Sunday, noon – 6pm

As seen in:

  • Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, still from Promised Land
  • Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, still from Promised Land
  • Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, still from Promised Land
  • Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, still from Promised Land