Kirsten Dehlholm

International Mentorship & Bursary 2012 Mentor

Kirsten Dehlholm artistic director Hotel Pro Forma

Kirsten Dehlholm is a Danish artist and artistic theatre director. She has created over 30 presentations combining scenography with performance art, employing a wide variety of techniques, media and materials.

Born in Vejle, after matriculating from high school Dehlholm studied textile arts at the Werkkunstschule (Arts and Crafts School) in Krefeld, Germany. She spent the next three years at Kunsthåndværkerskolen in Copenhagen. In 1969, she married the writer Otto Sigvaldi who sold his books from a pram in central Copenhagen dressed in the fanciful costumes she had designed.

In the 1970s, Dehlholm worked as a scenographer for the Rimfaxe theatre group. In 1977, together with Per Flink Basse, she founded Billedstofteatret, a theatrical collective which functioned until 1985. She developed new concepts for performance art, creating scenarios in which people formed artistic tableaux accompanied by music or sound effects. Her creations included Gyldne vinger og blå løfter (Golden Wings and Blue Promises, Charlottenborg, 1977) and Påtrængende slægtninge(Instrusive Relatives), a live exhibit presented at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 1979.

In 1985, Dehlholm formed the Hotel Pro Forma theatre group which she has directed ever since. She has created some 30 performances combining art with theatrical presentation drawing on landscape painting and modern, minimalistic design. Some of her works include mirrored images and optical illusions. Her Terra Australia Incognita (National Museum, 1989) inspired by the voyages of discovery put the viewer in the unusual position of gaining a bird’s eye view of the actors lying below. Her Hvorfor blir det nat, mor? (Why Does it Get Dark, Mummy, Aarhus City Hall, 1989) stretched up the five-storey staircase from the entrance hall. Her collaboration with architects, writers and composers has given her a reputation as an important player in the renewal of theatrical scenography. It was her ability to develop experimental installations combining existential themes such as belief, indentity and war which led to her being awarded the Thorvalden Medal in 2013. She was commended for her consistently innovative artistic creations and for her strong sense of scenic confrontation.