Jeppe Hein – How he got our attention

Danish artist Jeppe Hein doesn’t have a biographer, he has Finn Janning. The philosopher’s two books When Life Blooms  and The Happiness of Burnout serve as manifestos for understanding Hein’s work. The following essay gives a first glimpse into this artist’s mind.

The essay was published–and can be read–in Numéro Homme Berlin.

Because it’s there

The first 10 to 15 years of Jeppe Hein’s artistic career are reminiscent of a mountaineer’s struggle on Mount Everest. The climb to the top of the world’s highest mountain is shrouded in awe, daring and faltering resolve.

When the British mountain climber George Mallory was asked in the 1920s why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he responded brusquely: “Because it’s there.” In that answer lies an all-too-human impulse, namely the impulse to seek the difficult and overcome the dangerous, apparently without any other ambition than to test your limits.

Naturally, it wasn’t Mount Everest that Jeppe tried—and is still trying—to conquer. It was an artistic career that knocked him out in the first round. He lived without compromise, without any deeper contact with himself.

His sense of direction wasn’t yet well-developed. His anchoring in the now hadn’t been established …

From the book When life blooms: Breathe with Jeppe Hein, in which Finn Janning describes the philosophical and spiritual development of the artist and social entrepreneur Jeppe Hein.

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

When life blooms

I’m pleased to announce that my new book, When life blooms – Breathe with Jeppe Hein will be released November 28th.

The publisher writes about the book:

“Danish artist Jeppe Hein soared to the top of the international art scene before the age of 35. His works were showcased at the world’s finest exhibitions and sold for sky-high prices. Then suddenly his body said stop. In 2009 Hein went down with stress.

In this book philosopher Finn Janning follows Jeppe Hein’s development from the tome immediately after his diagnosis with burn out and onward – a period where Hein underwent psychoanalysis and developed and interest in yoga, breathing exercises and spirituality.

Janning shows how spirituality has become more present in Hein’s works, and in the book, he develops an existential philosophy in continuation of the artists spirituality and art.”

I may add:

It’s a philosophical biography that describes the life of the artist Jeppe Hein. In doing so, I’ve tried to exemplify Gilles Deleuze’s idea that “life is not personal,” that is to say, each life is a case study.

I choose this approach as a way of addressing the narcissism of the artist without making the narrative confronting, or in anyway judgmental.

Instead, I illustrate how Jeppe is formed by the major cultural trends during the last 40 years, such as the growing accelerating and spirituality and social entrepreneurship. He is an artist of his time.

It’s a book that tests and nuances the popularity of today’s spirituality through a philosophical, primarily existential lens.

ENJOY

Whenlife blooms_cover

Last, although I’m glad to have a book of mine being translated into English (it was written in Danish), I’ve detected a few mistakes, see more here.