I am Kerstin Bergendal, visual artist, born 1957 in Sweden, but based in Copenhagen since 1984. I use drawing, photo, video and methods of pure play on the one hand, and durational strategies for critical intervention and participation on the other.
My work intervenes with the logic of a place. This also means, that the place and its locals, professionals and institutions also intervenes with me and thus with the art project, making it an unpredictable reciprocal and simultaneous ping-pong process. The discursive platform that eventually might grow out of such an exchange, aims at cultivating an existing local agency and improving conditions for joint local action with point of departure in the spectrum of critique on, utopic ideas about and hopes for the site.
The collaborative side of my work also comprises short term collaborative events and exhibitions with colleagues, the co-curating of the artist-run research platform TAPKO 1991–2005 and currently LOKAL. In 1996–2002, I headed the transforming phase of one of Europes oldest artist run public galleries, OVERGADEN, towards becoming a Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, Denmark.
I have served as member of the committee for art in public spaces at the Danish National Arts Foundation from 2008-2010, and as a member of the Board of Kunsthal Århus from 2017-2019. Currently, I am Senior Lecturer at Academy Valand at Gothenburg University, in Sweden. I regularly engage in the public discourse on the role of visual art in relation to the wider contemporary society, and have produced and contributed to research projects within this field.
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/ Four Gardens for Greville Dementia Care Home

In 2016, on behalf of Bristol City Council, Willis Newson Art Agency in Bristol (UK) commissioned me to collaborate with architects Penoyre & Prasad and Steve Frazer of Landscape Architects Enzygo, on the development of a landscape design for a new 69 bed dementia care home, produced by Ashley House and Brunelcare.

As my point of departure, I proposed a small shift in the optics of what a dementia care-home garden might be. I chose to understand it both as a private sheltered outdoor residence, and as an addition or missing piece in the local fabric. In Greville there are but few parks and gardens for locals to assemble in. The new dementia garden could therefore act as one and if so, could offer to dementia residents a living surface of contact to the wider world. The  garden we proposed, thus was shaped as two different zones  – one closed residential garden zone, and one semi-open communal garden.

In collaboration with landscape architect Steve Frazer from Enzygo Ldt in Sheffield, I also performed a series of dialogues with different agents involved in, affected by and neighbours to the given site – staff, neighbours, relatives. Their different knowledge and ”lived experience” were intertwined via a process of co-production of an architectural model. This model was presented to the architects and the commissioners, by the end of 2017.

These cross consultation dialogues differed from normal procedures in play when planning dementia care homes. Normally consultations are conducted in separated tracks and with no aim to stage a collaboration across the professional divides.

The indicative drawings, subsequently produced on  basis of these consultative dialogues, were presented to the commissioner as an actual landscape program. But they also stand as a prototype of a planning based on an otherwise non-existing consultation process.

A NOW TIME ZONE_shelters in place

A key element in the published proposal is a focal shelter, proposed and adapted specifically for social activities for residents with dementia. Above, you see this shelters placed in circular garden areas on the drawings generated by the dialogues.

BRISTOL model shelter

The shelters offer a goal for a resident walking in the garden, or a place for the resident who wishes to have something to do. The small architecture also serves a strategic role as a tool,  mechanically opening a closer link between the outside of the institution, and the inside. Between the sheltered parts of the garden and new platforms for co-production and co-habitation between the residents and their relatives, their neighbours and local cultural association.

The Danish architect M C Trabut – Jørgensen has elaborated the model you see above.

Here you find the proposal for a new dementia garden elaborated by myself and Steve Frazer in 2017 – Lacey RD garden layout. 

This material was published, both as a separate folder entitled A NOW-TIME ZONE/ Four gardens for Greville Dementia Care Home and within the formal building applications from Ashley House and as an architectural model.

However, in 2018, the entire building project was stalled by the Ashley House, and thus also the garden project. But myself and Steve Frazer have keep open a critical discursive dialogue with agents normally engaged in relation to dementia care homes. In summer 2018, we were invited by Dr Christina Buse from the Dep. of Sociology at the University of York to perform a workshop during a public conference entitled “Architectural design and construction for later life care: challenges and opportunities for designing with and for building users” at Kings Manor, University of York, UK, arranged by the Department of Sociology of Wentworth College.

We presented the project with a focus on ways of identifying, supporting and cultivating the concept of local agency and co-ownership, as the basis for a dementia garden layout. The model was displayed, as well as the very rough video sequence mentioned above, to introduce the basic working mode. The Dep. of Sociology published ‘Buildings in the Making’, a research study following the design and construction process on building projects for older people, in particular extra care housing and care homes by doctors Christina Buse, Daryl Martin and Sarah Nettleton from the Department of Sociology of Wentworth College, University of York UK, which includes the art project.

The 18th of September 2018, the project and video was also presented by Steve Frazer and myself within the Fine Art Lecture Series at Academy Valand, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

2019 Man lånte jo ikke nåle i Herning


Man lånte jo ikke nåle i Herning / And one did not borrow needles in Herning 
This two-sided work responds to an invitation from the New Carlsberg Foundation concerning a public artwork for the city of Ikast Brande, in Denmark.
The invitation was extended in 2017 to three artists – Cai Ulrich von Platen, Jørgen Carlo Larsen and myself – each asked to elaborate additions to a complex building, the new Cultural House of Ikast-Brande, Hjertet/ The Heart, designed by architects C F Møller (DK).  From 1991 – 2005, we constituted the core of an artist run platform, called TAPKO, pioneering site specific art in Denmark by realizing more than 20 exhibitions in in-and outside of the exhibitionary complex, including works of participating colleagues from Denmark and abroad.
Thus, as a point of departure, the invitation was linked to TAPKO and to site-specificity, and as a consequence to the town in which the Cultural House was built – Ikast.  This is a minor town in the region of Jutland, famous for its booming textile industry during the 1900s. This boom grew in harsh competition with a similar boom in the neighboring town, Herning – hence the title of the project.
One work – Two versions
The work consists of two versions of the same content – a selection of recorded enquiries among locals and local agents of the town of Ikast. From these dialogues, the artist chose 176 quotes, subsequently used in two different ways:

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As parts of a physical artwork on site: Individual and subjective quotes from the taped dialogues were anonymized, and adapted to be engraved 4-6 mm deep into the slabs both of the indoor and outdoor “floor” of the new Cultural House. Indoors, the black ceramic tiles are rectangular. On the outside, the large white slabs, chosen by the architects, are five-c
ornered and irregular, in order to make up a complex pattern. Each quote was adapted, to fit the format of a chosen slab. By then also giving each quote a specific font and font size, it acts a singular “voice” and when grouped, a sort of dialogue or a poetic meaning through association, can be generated between the different statements.
The176 text fragments now appear on site, as a stream of subtle and varied sum of “voices”, spread irregularly over the entire surface of the large new square and meandering in through the interior of the imposing building. As they pronounce informative, dry, odd, funny and melancholic opinions on life in the town of Ikast, they mechanically incite visitors / inhabitants to self-reflective dialogues. Through this process, the semi-private square can over time be reclaimed as a commons, open to a local publicness.
The subtle nature of the engravings adds an ever changeable aspect of the work; In mid-day sunshine, concrete goes light and dry. The texts then almost disappear. On a rainy day, the text in the concrete becomes evident and black. On windy days, most of the fragments are covered or filled by sand, trash or leaves. Indoors, the text fragments are placed right in the middle of areas used for activities. They will  gradually be erased and traces of life are gradually added on  – rust spots, wine spots, chewing gum and car tracks  – all of which gradually will  transform the floor of the square to a Book of Life.


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As an app:  In order for visitors on site to identify the individual and subjective quotes, I have had created an app, which includes a GPS function. For the visitor at home, the quotes are also listed alphabetically. Clicking on a quote, connects you to a short poetic text by the artist and an image connected to its meaning. These texts ponder upon the essence of the quote in question, and/ or relates it to historical events of the local area, going back as far as 10 000 years. This part of the project is elaborated in collaboration with professionals at the Textile Museum of Herning, local archives of the region and the local paper Herning Folkeblad. The mixture of old and new, imaginary and factual, as well as the highs and lows of the quotes themselves, proposes a redefinition of the role of artist in contemporary society. It claims the artist as a transitory figure or ultra-attentive listener, calling for others to gather on a surface of contact, to engage in actually hearing and seeing each other again. “Know yourself”, as a strategy of resilience. A short video finally introduces the entire concept and method, for the app user. It can can be seen here.
A pdf showing app content for the entire 176 quotes here. You can choose to download the app: Search for Kunst til Hjertet, where you usually download apps. 


This project was realized in collaboration with artist Marie Rosenkilde Lindberg, and with Ikast-Brande Kommune; CF Møller Architects; Valand Academy;  Ikast Stenhuggeri Midt-Jyllands Museum and Tekstilmuseet in Herning; Herning Folkeblad; Ikast Lokalhistorik Arkiv; Omslev Kolt Lokalhistorisk arkiv and Lokalhistorisk arkiv Herning. App production by CMP Company / Hanna Bergman design.
The work is published in the home pages of Tekstil Museet and of New Carlsberg Foundation.




POD dialogue – Plats för konst #04


ART PLATFORM /Plats för konst is a series of pod dialogues in Swedish, edited by Molly Sjögren,             and Åsa-Viktoria Wihlborg (see more )
The aim of Plats för konst is to establish a forum for discursive exchanges on issues concerning art in public raum;  Guests from different parts of the field of public arts, are invited to exchange views on the role of, conditions and strategies for working with visual art in relation to public raum and publicness.
I Plats för konst #04 is a conversation in Swedish between Kerstin Bergendal and architect Tor Lindstrand from KTH in Stockholm, on the role of the architect and the artist in relation to publicness, and on modes of, strategies for and problems within working durational in public raum, when engaging others.
 Link to the pod (in Swedish) : 
Tor Lindstrand (Stockholm) is an Associate Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH-A) and a co-owner of the office of Larsson Lindstrand Palme arkitektkontor AB. His practice oscillate between architecture, art and performance in numerous cultural contexts with projects presented in institutions like, TATE Liverpool, Venice Architecture Biennale 2008, 2010 and 2014, Steirischer Herbst, Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Van Abbe Museum, VOLTA Basel, Performa New York, Royal Dramatic Theatre Copenhagen, NAI Rotterdam, Stockholm Architecture Museum, Tensta Art centre, Botkyrka Art centre and Storefront for Art and Architecture. He co-initiated the International Festival, as well as Economy , and currently is involved in a collaborative research project on Power, Space and Ideology at KTH-A and Södertörn University and as an architecture critic for FORM magazine.



The PARK LEK project was a durational multidimensional participatory art project I realized from 2010 – 2014. It contested and ultimately transformed the planning procedure of two urban areas of the city of Sundbyberg, just outside of Stockholm in Sweden.
From April to September 2019, it was included in a group exhibition DET ANDET STED/ The Other Place, at the Danish National Museum of Art in Public Places KOES. Included artists/ artworks were also Katie Paterson with Future Library, Ragnar Kjartansson with Figures in Landscape, Alex Hartley with Nowhereisland, Héctor Zamora with Zeppelin Swarm, and AVPD with Light Tower, Time Light, Gravity Lamp.
The exhibition was curated by Ulrikke Neergaard. Her aim was “.. to present.. six art projects, that during the past decade have revolutionized our understanding of what public art can be and created radically new encounters between contemporary art and the public. Each of the six projects rethinks central factors that play a key role in public art: time, place and participation. Each of them creates remarkable, poetic and pertinent new connections, bringing the capacity of art to spark the imagination to life, and taking us to other places.”
Ulrikke Neegaard introduced the PARK LEK project with the following:
PARK LEK is a visionary social art project by Swedish artist Kerstin Bergendal, rethinking urban planning in three phases of development and implementation in the Stockholm suburb of Sundbyberg from 2010–2014.
​Sundbyberg is the most densely populated suburb in Sweden. Despite which, in 2010 a new urban development plan was on the cards – a plan that would mean the few remaining green areas between the neighbourhoods of Hallonbergen and Ör being swallowed by even more housing and an even higher population density, as well as segregating them.
​Invited by the Marabouparken Art Gallery in Sundbyberg, Bergendal started the project PARK LEK, where she worked with residents, staff in the local youth club, shopping centre and football clubs, as well as urban planners, developers, politicians and many, many more over the next four years. Bergendal kickstarted, facilitated and documented the exchange and negotiation of different values, interests, needs, and points of view on the development of the area.
​The video interviews were shared on social media during the first and second phase of the project – PARK LEK I and PARK LEK II – and led to endless meetings, focus groups and brainstorming sessions. This generated the third phase the project, PARK LEK PARLIAMENT. Here different groups – based in a corner of the local shopping center painted in pink, and often gathered around a large architect-built model of the area – rethought its future from asocial, cultural and planning perspective. Gradually a new plan emerged, a plan made by the people whose lives it would affect, either directly or indirectly.
This third phase of the project was managed and funded by the local authorities, who agreed to channel the collated experiences and expertise of the hundreds of participants in PARK LEK I and PARK LEK II into the council’s plans and strategies.
In May 2014 PARK LEK culminated with the local council deciding to implement the new model for the area that had been collectively developed during the project’s four-year process of negotiation. Since then a new youth club has been established, a community centre have been built, and there are now two parks in the area between the blocks of flats originally slated as a built-up zone.
This kind of influence on urban planning through an art project is unprecedented. Its strength, but crucially also its method, makes PARK PLAY one of the most significant European contributions to public art dedicated to generating social change through long-term, participatory processes.”





2019 ArtworkOngoing – The Rear Mirror Project

In 2018, I participated in a series of urban interventions entitled Artwork Ongoing, commissioned by Art Inside Out in Halland, Sweden.

The project was initiated through an invitation to 20 professionals,  each with their role in and relation to a redevelopment of a central square in Halmstad – Österskans. I invited them to meet and collectively to recap the process, and consider what led to what?

By in addition inviting the film maker Kristina Meiton to document the process of reflection and my own mode of enquiry, I also aim to initiate a proces of reflection regarding my own role as an artist, in such an enquiry.

The above version of the film is a short introduction to the then ongoing project, produced for a presentation at Halmstad Konsthall in May 2018. The video below is an introduction to the described dialogue, sent to the municipal professionals prior to the dialogue.


2015 Hvor går din sti hen?/ To where are you heading?

_31A4070 detalje

Breve, der besvarede spørgsmålet “Hvor går din sti hen?” Svarene tolkede spørgsmålet på forskellig vis. Enten ved att give os ren praktisk information om hvad man skulle lave, lige om lidt. Eller svar der i overført betydning fortalte om hvor ens liv syntes at være på vej hen.



Opslagstavlen i august  / The message board in August, by the end of the exhibition


Where are you heading?/ Hvor går din sti hen?

During an exhibition entitled Voyage Out at the public gallery Munkeruphus in Denmark in 2015, this straight forward question appeared already on the back wall of the entrance. The public was in addition presented with a pen and paper and invited to  add their respons to a designated wall. This wall had the features of the classical low tech message board, from before the days of Facebook.


Biddrag til Kerstin Bergendals værk

The public was invited to write me a letter, which was added to other letters on a message board. / Publikum havde muligheden for at slå sig ned og skrive et håndskrevet brev, der så blev tilføjet på opslagstavlen


Message boards have always attracted my attention. There is something about the different styles of writing, concerns and objects shifting owner. In particular I am drawn to the variety of styles of handwriting – and what they convey about the person writing.  Handwriting is a parallel to image, or sound.

The process was initiated with a few first notes, produced in relation to the opening. Subsequently it was gradually filled with handwritten letters produced during the course of the exhibition.


The letters responded in many different ways to the question. Some on a low key practical level, informing us concretely about where the responder de facto was heading after visiting the gallery, and for instance about what to buy for dinner. Others respond more to the existential aspect of the question –  offering  thoughts about the stage in life they were in,  the perspectives and dilemmas within what layed ahead of them. As an entity the collection of letters indirectly produce an image of the local, and of the life lead here, during two months in 2015.



Opslagstavlen i early juni / The message board in June.









2010-2013 Twenty Days in Viborg – A Journey





HUDA 30 - definerer sig selv

      Huda 30, Tyve Dage i Viborg – En Rejse, Viborg Kunsthal, 2013



Twenty Days in Viborg – A Journey

This project responded to an invitation from Viborg Kunsthal in 2009, and was performed in collaboration with Rikke Johansen Smith, from Viborg Museum, from 2010 – 2013.

The emblematic history of Viborg was challenged, by the combined use of a durational strategy, and the logic of pure chance. Twenty randomly chosen participants opened their homes for me to document. Each also gave me randomly chosen parts of their subjective history.  I documented both on 1200 photos, and on twenty elven minute long video films.

As an entity, these fragments of homes and subjective histories suggest a different history of the small merchant town, than the one told at the museum.

Today it is also an integrated part of the museums collection. The National Arts Council in Denmark in 2011, and the Carlsberg Foundation in 2012 supported the project.

(For detailed information, please scroll down) Photo; Kerstin Bergendal



11GERDA 5-1      Gerdas badeværelse, Tyve Dage in Viborg- En rejse, Viborg Kunsthal 2013.


I was invited to elaborate an exhibition for the public art gallery of Viborg, in a minor Danish town. During a research visit to the local history museum, I was introduced to an explicit and repeated description of the identity and history of Viborg. I took this frozen image as my point of departure for my own research of the history of contemporary Viborg.
I invited the head ethnologist from Viborg Museum, Rikke Johansen Smidt, to act as my travelling companion, on a constructed journey from home to home, of twenty citizens of Viborg.
Unlike a classic predefined museum research, I based my journey upon a pure
random logic. There were no prefixed focus areas for the journey, or premeditated values. Each conversation took its own unpredictable course. Each participant directed us onwards to the next person. We had no control at all.
Rikke recorded all conversations for posterity, while I acted as The Traveller, reading each home through 40 – 120 intuitive snapshot photographs. These photographs, in all over 1200, were consequently printed and collected in each their folder.  For the future these folders are included in the collection of the Viborg Museum.


00rikke 2-7


Subsequently, I invited participants to visit me in a temporary film studio at the public gallery in Viborg. From each visits, I made a short film that introduces a participant during the moment, when they get to see my photographs from the visit to their home for the first time. Triggered by the images, they share memories and reflections of living in Viborg. In between the selected parts of these conversations, randomly chosen photos from their homes appear in silent clusters.
The films were presented installed at individual monitors at the Viborg Kunsthal in 2013, and at a separate homepage, www.


tyve dage presse 10




Finally, in 2013, we co-organized a public meeting with all the participants. In addition we invited two senior officials from Viborg – the mayor and the head of the historical museum.
All were invited to reflect about the version of their history, as presented by the project. This dialogue took place in the City Council Hall at the Municipality, in presence of the Mayor.
Subsequently, all films and photos are incorporated in the collection of the museum.


Tyve Dage møde byråd 001.jpg


1993 A space in between




Show off 1993

Each year, Malmö City stages a two weeks outdoor culture festival. In 1996, I was invited to participate with a temporary outdoor sculpture, wich was to be added to a street corner of Södra Förstadsgatan.

This was the corner of a short street in between one of the most central merchant streets in the city, and an anonymous crossing. There was a post office, a tobacconist, a furniture upholsterer and an ice cream manufacturer, located in the building just beside the corner.

I chose not to add a work of art to the corner, but rather to add my own activity as a practising artist, during the entity of the exhibition.

Photo: Cai Ulrich von Platen





I moved in on the corner with a container and a tap of cold water . During the two weeks of the festival, I sat here, performing the exact same sequence of actions every day, mimicing the every daay work being done in the offices and workplaces around me.
From 9 am and noon, I produced a series plastic bags, filled with water. At noon, I opened my lunch box, surrounded by the heap of waterbags produced. From 1 pm to 2 pm I layed out the plastic bags of the day, in large improvised formations directly on the pavement. Then I photographed the formation of the day and walked  500 meters to the nearest printshop, to print an enlarged photo of todays formation. At four I moved all  plastic bags into the container. In this way, the container gradually became filled up with bags of water along with the documentation of the temporary shapes.
The repeated and non sensical act every day provoced conversations with passers by, airing their doubt about what is art,  concerns about the waste of perfectly clean water or issues of how this street corner actually could have been square of sorts.


malmoe hele kassen


 At the end of each day the container was sealed off with doors of acrylic glass. During the evening and night-time, there was light inside it, like any shop window around me.



On the last day of the festival, the container was emptied. All plastic bags containing a total of 3,000 litres of water, were placed on the pavement in the middle of the street. This caused the traffic to a temporary stop, with a long line of cars were waiting. Almost ritually I went from bag to bag to puncture them. The water leaking out formed a temporary lake. For about 20 minutes, the very character of this otherwise so anonymous street corner of Malmö was quite decisively altered.


2004-2005 Match-stick-car-liquorice-shoe-lace

From the exhibition  appropriated as a negotiation space.  All photos by Torben Eskerod.


match-stick-car-liquorice-shoe-lace was a response to an invitation from the Museum of Public Art in Køge / KØS to propose a possible reorganizations of a specific spot in the close vicinity of the museum, located in the urban centre of the small conservative merchant city Køge. This passage and the small place close by in front of the museum was however the subject of a slow on-going conflict of interest between the museum and its neighbours.

I appointed myself as a mediating part and the museum space as a kind of transitional zone, and invited all interested parties in relation to this conflict, one by one, to present their point of view to me. The process took 8 weeks and was performed in autumn 2004 in collaboration with landscape architect Jonas m Schül. The final outcome was not a consensus, but an identified model of compromise, accepted by all participants. In the end, however, the proposal was never realised by the municipality. ( for further info, please scroll down)

All photo : Torben Eskerod.


I was formally invited to elaborate a proposal for how to possibly use the space inbetween the buildings.  But from the start I was cautioned by the museum, not to upset the School Board -“and absolutely not the vicar!” this is how I learned how all neighbors to the church, were involved in a long term disagreement about how, and in particular how not to alter the culturally sensitive area around the church. However low key inits expression, this dispute had actively influenced the way in which the various neighbours related to each other.
I decided to enter into the debate by organizing a kind of baton. All the different groups of interests were invited to the museum one by one;  School children, teachers, school board, church council, church ministers, church architects, library staff, representatives from the local commercial association, local politicians, staff of the local history archive, the directors from the Art museum, and finally a group of public officials of Køge municipality.          
The idea of a baton was signalled through the unusual composite of the exhibition title, referring to a well known Danish children’s word-adding-game. As a point of departure, I posed all groups the same simple question ; What would it mean to them, if I was to remove the two existing brick walls, currently placed between the church and the old school?  Each group was to respond to my question, by making a rough architectural model of the site, as an image of their perception the perfect solution for it.




 When arriving to the project-space, I mediated the earlier sessions and models. This is where the baton mechanics  indirectly forced each group to start with taking in, what previous groups had already formulated. All midels therefore mechanically came to include a response to needs and wishes pronounced by others.
I was just the listener, Jonas mostly just helped out with model building. The rest was but “..the cat on the rat, and the rat on the rope...” By the end of the 8 weeks round of dialogues, the last model did not only represent a fully plausible proposal for a new public space all around the church. It also proposed for the area to function as a common “playground” / social platform for all  generations of Køge citizens. The zone of conflict was for a while re-imagined as a common field of interest. However. due to municipal elections the  proposal was never realised.