May 10-20
Opening Wednesday 10 May 6-8.30.

Anna Magdalena Laerkesen investigates the solace of place and the losses felt through displacement in her works for Refuge, a solo exhibition at Collab.

Homelessness, rising house affordability, and the international crisis of displacement are brought to the fore through paintings, photography, installation, text and collaborations with performers. The idea of physical ‘placement’ is key to Laerkesen’s practice, as she works with the body and manipulates space to enact experiences of placement. Wool is used to dissect the gallery and move the viewer within new spaces. Niches are carved out for disparate shrouded figures within the eternal landscapes of her paintings and photographs. These mysterious, vulnerable forms hover above her landscapes, detached from place, or nestle in to perhaps find refuge in Cloudlands.

A tent floats on the brightly coloured surface of 32. The work retells a tale of displacement, as it transcribes a tent Laerkesen saw last year beneath a bridge in Paris – then the temporary home of an Afghani family, after 32 years of continuous fighting in their war-torn country. The tent becomes a symbol of our times and this age of the refugee.

In this way, Laerkesen makes the invisible and the overlooked, the central focus. Her shrouded figures point to the anonymous and unnamed featured in the media to depict the refugee crisis and to the homeless individuals on our own streets. Laerkesen draws parallels in their vulnerability - both are forced to carry all their worldly goods with them – both are hidden by categorisation.

Connection and separation runs thematically throughout the exhibition. Connection and dislocation from place is key, and Laerkesen pulls on her own Danish and Maori heritage, anchoring a link ‘home’ through the inclusion of a New Zealand boulder and recalling cultural knowledge through her cyclical and ethereal painting Danish folk dance (Left brain for the insane). Similarly, Scissus (a photographic installation work, not available for sale) investigates the bond between mother and child as time and physical distance increase.

Laerkesen spurs on encounters with these liminal spaces throughout Refuge, making experiences on the edge of place, community and identity her central subject.  

In a collaborative gesture, Laerkesen has invited performance artist Linda Luke and sound artist Terumi Narushima to respond to her artwork in the gallery on Saturday 13th at 2pm.


Anna Magdalena Laerkesen is a New Zealander of Maori and Danish heritage who lives and works in Sydney. She is the Director of A.R.P Artists Residency Program and is a current resident of Brand X studios Tempe. Laerkesen has exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography (2014) and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (2012). She has been a finalist in the Fischer's Ghost Art Prize (2015/16) and the Blacktown City Art Prize (2015).


Past Exhibitions