Danish Situationist Asger Jorn’s iconic 1959 work The Disquieting Duckling was vandalized on April 29 in an attack that was livestreamed by right-wing Facebook page Patrioterne Går Live, which has historically posted anti-Muslim screeds and videos. The widely circulated video seems to show Danish artist Ibi-Pippi Orup Hedegaard affixing his own likeness to the painting, which was on display at the Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Denmark, and then signing his name on the canvas in black permanent marker.
“If you’re around,” he wrote on Facebook, “you can go and admire my new work.”
The painting, which depicts the form of a duck, clumsily rendered in gaudy hues atop a found canvas showing a pastoral scene, is a classic example of detournement. Embraced by Situationists, the mode involves the repurposing or alteration of extant works to make new ones. Ibi-Pippi, as he is commonly known, claims the act was meant to foster a public dialogue on the question of authorship. He further contends that by destroying the Jorn work, he is following in the renowned artist’s footsteps.
Danish news site DR reports that artist Uwe Max Jensen, known for his right-wing views and for performing in blackface, most notably mocking the murder by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, is visible in the livestream, where he can be seen photographing the vandalism and the wall text, subsequently exiting the museum with Ibi-Pippi. Jensen posted positive paeans to the vandalism on his own Facebook account, comparing the effort to a 2020 action by artist Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, who submerged the bust of an eighteenth-century Danish king in a river as a protest against colonialism.
Officials at the Museum Jorn have said they are assessing whether the painting can be repaired. Ibi-Pippi, who was quickly arrested following the attack on the work and has since been released, claims that he was unaware of the strong bonding properties of the adhesive he used in vandalizing the painting.