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The Unpredictable World of Artist Jeppe Hein


Danish by birth, German by address, artist Jeppe Hein is out to redesign the world. And, yeah, you’re invited. Combining tech, art, and architecture, Hein produces interactive works that beg the viewer to get involved, whether it be wandering through a mirrored labyrinth, sitting on a reconfigured bench, or plowing headlong through a water fountain. You could call him a pioneer in the field. Ten years ago, Hein’s sculptures and installations on display at the Frieze art fair were then considered unnervingly avante garde. “Its insistence that you actually participate is preposterous—often the last thing you want to do in a gallery is join in,” wrote Kirsty Bell. How things have changed in the last decade. 

Built into the structure of the work is always a dedication to geometry and, not least of which, humor. From creating chaotically rolling spheres that, pretty much literally, attacked viewers (360 Presence, 2002) to a fire-spewing hole triggered by a person’s entrance into a gallery (Bear the Consequences, 2003), Hein is kind of a, “Hey, you can come into my world, but enter at your own risk” kind of guy. It’s not just all twinkling lights and pretty things to throw up on the ‘Gram; it’s a highbrow gauntlet. How bad you want to get through it is up to you. 

Sometimes art needs a litmus test. 

All photos via Johann Konig, Datura, and courtesy of the artist.