Henrick Olesen’s practice sexualizes Conceptual art, recognizing its often repressed homosexual history. The artist asks questions about sexual identity as it relates to authority, power, hegemony, and normative narratives. Through acts of sedition, often manipulating existing text and images via collage, Olesen exposes unacknowledged histories. In 2003, for instance, he inserted Tom of Finland’s sadomasochistic photographs into Max Ernst’s collaged novels La Femme 100 têtes (1929) and Une Semaine de bonté (1934), suggesting homosexual undertones to the Surrealist’s already subversive work. The physical body plays a central role in Olesen’s illuminations, often producing a fragmented figure or sourceless voice. In How Do I Make Myself a Body? (2009), photo-text collages and sculptural objects tell the tragic history of the English mathematician Alan Turing, whom the British authorities sentenced to undergo treatment with female hormones–persecuted in spite of his achievements and patriotism. Typically heavily researched, Olesoen's work reveals the boundaries, borders, and laws that define queer spaces, sites, and bodies.
Henrik Olesen has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including at MoMA, Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art, MACBA in Barcelona, and at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art.