Artinavan // Bureau Detours Collaboration

Our friends Artinavan// jet-setted off to Denmark last week to collaborate with Bureau Detours. Hannah Little wrote a daily diary update on the groupís project for Art Licks.

London’s artist collective, Artinavan// first collaborated with the Denmark collective, Bureau Detours when they came to the capital in November 2009 and made the Pop-Up Space together. It was decided to meet again in 2010 in Århus/Denmark and put up an even bigger installation in what they call the CCAM, (The Contemporary Contemporary Art Museum). Artinavan// went to Denmark 17th of February. Member of Artinavan, Hannah Little wrote a daily update on the group’s project for Art Licks.


We arrived at the Bureau Detours’ studios here in Arhus, Denmark on Wednesday night and after a thorough guided tour of the space and local area, we got stuck in to some collective brainstorming.

The group are working together to transform the studio space,a converted train warehouse, into a functioning habitat based on an ant colony. Ants are social insects who have existed over 600 times longer than humans, and their success has been attributed to their social organisation, ability to modify habitats and tap resources. It’s been really interesting and fun drawing from the experience of such tiny creatures.

Bureau Detours have organised a big exhibition party tomorrow night to celebrate the collaboration and promote the installation. The collectives have been working together in teams of workshops for the last 24 hours, getting stuck in and constructing the first features of the space, making interlinking bridges and platforms, constantly developing ideas between the artists and designers. We’ve also begun to build: chambers, a green house, a purpose built welding studio, speakers and a bar, over-sized musical instruments, a massive swing and even a red light district installation. The project also involves small groups gathering food every night for the rest of the ‘colony’, teams cooking and eating collectively.

Artinavan// are cold, covered in sawdust and living as freegens.


We’ve been hard at work getting the space ready for tonight’s beta opening, a chance for people to see the project in progress. We’ve just finished for the day, the cocktails are ready and people are beginning to arrive. Everyone’s looking forward to a hard earned break, and tonight gives us a chance to present everything we’ve achieved so far.

The main structure’s coming together, the bar, sound system, back alley brothel, swing, greenhouse, furniture and some of the instruments are set up and ready to go, and the space is beginning to resemble the idea of a collective colony. People have flown in from all over Europe to work with the Collective, we’ve got artists and designers from Denmark, London, Iceland and Finland all working as one.


Production today has been slower than usual, due to team moral in hangover mood after last night’s pre-opening. We’ve all been absorbed in our own creative projects during the day, people have been experimenting with materials and the welding workshop saw its first piece of action. The collective have been working on video documentations and short films, and producing maquettes for possible large scale construction.

We’ve also been exploring the local area, some of the group went down to the harbour to reflect on the week so far. Tomorrow’s going to be an active day transforming the preliminary experiments into large scale finished articles.


Today’s been a highly productive day here at the colony. After making a full English for the whole team we held a meeting to finalise ideas using yesterday’s maquettes.

We’ve been hard at work this afternoon extending the interlinking bridges and chambers, which bring the whole space together. We’ve also added more seating and some shelving to the bar. The red light district has been filled with coloured lights and signs and we’ve almost finished painting the studio walls.

Artinavan are planning to work into the early hours tonight as tomorrow will be our last full day here in Arhus.


We have had a really active day here at the colony, everyone’s been working hard to finish their installations. Most of Artinavan// are heading back to London tomorrow to tend to our space at the Brixton Village Market. The rest of the colony will continue to work until the grandopening to the public on Friday night.

We anticipate the thought of leaving Århus with apprehension. Bureau Detours have made this our home for the week and we’ve all put so much in to the design and construction of the space. It’s been fascinating watching team projects come together in a way that reflects the idea of a collective. The approach we have taken focuses on communicating creative process and interacting with each other and a functioning space. We’ve been living, building, eating and sleeping together and have worked hard to transform the warehouse studio space into a reflection of the group vision.


Artinavan// are back in Brixton. The space at the Bureau Detours’ studio will remain for another week before it is once again transformed. The collaboration has been a great success and both collectives have gained a lot from the experience. Artinavan// have developed our building skills a great deal and are really pleased with the finished installation. The colony hosted the opening night on Friday to a crowd of around three hundred and everyone seemed to enjoy exploring the different parts of the space.

Once again thanks to Bureau Detours for making us so at home. Look out for future collaborative projects on our website.

In the coming weeks our focus will be back at our space at the Brixton Village Market—a rotating gallery in the heart of Brixton—which we transform weekly into a variety of interactive installations amongst other things.

- Hannah Little

Sean Millington from Artinavan// summed up the outcome of the project:

“The collaboration seemed to stem from the relationship from the already existent architecture of the abandoned railway warehouse. Bureau Detours began exploring the positive space of the warehouse, propelling platforms and stairwells into existence. The structures that were formed became sealed in the creative nest of the warehouse. The architecture of the newly created structures in turn created another space for the Artinavan// artists to explore, converting what could potentially be 'negative' space into yet another interactive installation.”

Artinavan//, Bureau Detours

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