Denmark’s Top Art School Head Sacked Over Royal Bust Stunt

This portrait of Denmark’s Frederik V by Carl Gustaf Pilo hangs at in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. (Image via Courthouse News)

COPENHAGEN (AFP) — The head of Denmark’s top art school has been sacked over the drowning of a bust of a former king in a Copenhagen canal, the culture ministry said Monday.

Artist Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld lost her job when she took a replica bust of the 18th-century monarch Frederik V from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where she was employed, and dumped it to draw attention to the country’s colonial past and its involvement in the slave trade, especially in modern day Ghana.

The action, which she called a “happening,” was initially carried out anonymously. Dirckinck-Holmfeld was removed from her post the day she came forward as the responsible party.

The scandal on Monday claimed the scalp of the Academy’s director Kirsten Langkilde, who had sent an internal mail with a link to the video of the bust being dumped without any comment, just saying “Have a good weekend.”

“The culture ministry and Kirsten Langkilde have not been able to come to an agreement on the challenges facing the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. There is therefore the need for new energy,” Culture Minister Joy Mogensen said.

The event, which took place on November 6, was recorded in a video and the group Anonymous Artists claimed responsibility before Dirckinck-Holmfeld stepped forward.

Anonymous Artists said the action was to show “solidarity with all the artists, students and people all over the world who have had to live with the aftermath of Danish colonialism.”

At its peak, Denmark’s colonies were spread across four continents from the Danish West Indies in the modern-day US Virgin Islands, to the Danish Gold Coast, now a part of Ghana. 

Its holdings also included Greenland, which remains part of Denmark, and territories in India.

© Agence France-Presse

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