Kunstmuseum Thun apr2008

Kunstmuseum Thun

Open Sky at Kunstmuseum Thun- Curated by Helen Hirsh
April 19 – June 15, 2008

Simone Aaberg Kærn (born in 1969 in Copenhagen) picks out the dream of flying as the central theme in her works and broaches the role of women in flying. With various media like photography, video and object art, she deals with the social, historical and political dimensions of aviation and joins them together in installations in the exhibition room.
In the process, the thoughts of unbound freedom in the open sky that is associated with flying is a recurring theme in the oeuvre of Aaberg Kærn. In 2002, the artist and trained pilot flew in her small plane from Copenhagen over the Hindukush to Kabul to realise the dream of flying of an Afghani girl – an event that became an adventurous and risky journey interlinked with all the hurdles of today’s civil aviation. Also, the motif of the woman in the male-dominated aviation is perceived in many of her works. Specially for the exhibition at Kunstmuseum Thun, her first solo exhibition in Switzerland, she has added the portrait of Swiss women military pilots to her work with American and Russian women military pilots of the Second World War, Afghani women helicopter pilots and Turkish women fighter pilots.
Sky and space are playing fields for power and politics, but they are also equally the place of freedom and self-realisation.


3 channel Video installation with sound, made from the original research material to SISTERS IN THE SKY- paintings. Recordings from visit to MOSCOV 1996 and Archive footage.
Was displayed at OPEN SKY malmø Konsthall and OPEN SKY Kunstmuseum Thun.

OPEN SKY apr2006


OPEN SKY at Malmø Konsthall curated by Jacob Fabricius. Simone Aaberg Kærn, in the early 1990s, began working with projects relating to surveillance and control. This, however, soon turned into a fascination for the unreachable and impossible task of floating: flying in the space. Through animated flying videos, such as Air (1994), wanna fly (1995), and Royal Greenland (196), Simone Aaberg Kærn investigated and soon found a symbolic free space in the air. At first, it was animated spaces, in which she flew across the skies of Copenhagen, New York and Greenland seeking the limits of gravity and individual unassisted human flight. Soon after Simone Aaberg Kærn achieved her own flight certificate in order to produce the work, Sisters in the Sky. This was demanded by Anne Noggle, one of the female pilots, who also was portrayed in the work Sisters in the Sky (1997). Simone Aaberg Kærn’s painted portraits of female fighter pilots from Second World War was shown at and acquired by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk. Sisters in the Sky is an impressive aesthetic and intellectual peephole of how women at that time could realize their dream of flying in a time of hardship. In the painting and sound installation, Simone Aaberg Kærn narrated their stories with a poetic, political and feministic gesture and introduced the notion of aero feminism – an aero feministic sisterhood across cultures and generations. One of Simone Aaberg Kærn’s most spectacular projects started in 2002. One day the artist read an article in a Danish newspaper about the girl Farial from Kabul in Afghanistan. Farial’s greatest wish was to become a fighter pilot. Simone Aaberg Kærn had no doubts; she had to attempt to reach her and show her how to fly. In Micro-Global Performance (2002-03) Aaberg Kærn took off in her fragile Piper Colt flight from Little Skensved, Denmark, to Kabul, Afghanistan. Micro-Global Performance is produced in collaboration with Magnus Bejmar. They flew across borders; crossing the enormous mountain range Hindukush (the Hindu Killer) to Kabul with the risk of the American Air Force would attack them. In the film Smiling in a War Zone (2005) Simone Aaberg Kærn crosses war zones and defies the military power in order to make contact to the girl Farial. She risked her own life so she could give Farial a journey in the air. In the film Farial flies the plane over Kabul. From a global perspective, the sky and the airspace are a place of battles – over power, prestige and politics. At the same time, the sky is a place of refuge for individuals, a place onto which you may project your own wishes and dreams. by Lars Grambye, Jacob Fabricius & Lotte Petersen. from the exhibition catalogue Simone Aaberg Kærn: Open Sky, Malmö Konsthall (Sweden) 2006 Used with permission of the authors and Galerie Asbæk © The authors             The Art of Flying to Kabul In 2002, the performance artist Simone Aaberg Kærn did what no one thought was possible, flying a small canvascovered plane 6000 km from Copenhagen to Kabul. FILM talked with Aaberg Kærn and co-director Magnus Bejmar about “Smiling in a War Zone – and the Art of Flying to Kabul”, an artistic statement about freedom sustained by the dream of flying. Af Annemarie Hørsman Publiceret i FILM #47, November 2005 It can’t be done, other pilots told Simone Aaberg Kærn and Magnus Bejmar. Even with a more modern plane and more money, we wouldn’t make it halfway, they said. The two of them nevertheless managed to make the remarkable journey, which they have now turned into a documentary. “Smiling in a War Zone – and the Art of Flying to Kabul” is a modern fairytale about Aaberg Kærn’s stubborn struggle to build an air bridge across two continents. We follow her persistent negotiations with air traffic controllers and generals about airspace access, and...

smiling in a war zone jul2005

smiling in a war zone

As an artist Simone has always been obsessed with female fighter pilots. These old ladies challenged her to become a pilot. She succeeded and so became one of the ‘Sisters in the Sky’, now she hopes Farial will join. She decides to look for a plane and buys the only one she can afford: a 40-year old ‘Donald Duck’ Piper-Colt made out of canvas.

Simone: “hings do look different from above, it becomes easier to navigate in life, when you have seen the larger picture.” She also states that, “since 9/11 the skies are occupied and they should again be liberated and free.”

On the way she visits an adventurous female fighter pilot squadron in Turkey seeking top tuned helpers for her mission. But problems loom: her tiny plane can fly only for 3 hours on a full tank and according to the manual it will never fly high enough to cross the Afghan mountains. Bosnia and Iran reject her request to fly over their countries and the Pentagon says that Afghanistan is a war zone and not open for pleasure flights.

After challenging every military authority she comes across, weeks of travelling, 50 hours in the air, 33 landings, and in the end, flying illegally into Afghanistan at nerve wrecking heights, Simone finally reaches Kabul and finds Farial. To Afghani standard she is a modern English speaking girl. Simone even manages to take Farial into the sky, but then there is the harsh landing into the reality of the 1000 year old Afghan family clan-society.

Crossing Line dec2003

Crossing Line

En morgen bevæger kunstneren Simone Aaberg Kærn sig af sted på en flyvetur. En meget unik flyvetur med et unikt formål; målet om at betyde noget for andre end flyvemaskinens egne passagerer – et mål om at være mere end blot en flyvetur. Hun vil flyve til Kabul i det, af det amerikanske militær, lukkede luftrum over Afghanistan. Hun vil befri luften og give en afghansk pige, der tilsyneladende har et brændende ønske om at blive pilot i det mandsdominerede Afghanistan, en tur i sin flyvemaskine.
Den mest radikale vinkel på projektet er det forhold, at det betegnes som kunst. Handlingen bliver til et værk, en udført idé, og dette drejer fokus til meningen bag. Et jetfly trækker spor over himlen, et lille skrøbeligt propelfly trækker intet spor over himlen, men som kunstværk sætter det måske spor i modtagerens bevidsthed.

Clockwise jun2002


The first female pilot of Iran lives in Stockholm. She is running running for parliament as a candidate for the social democrats.
3 channel video installation
2X 3 min video projection with sound + one 10 min video on monitor with head phones.

Production 2002 Flying Entreprise

Pusan International Contemporary Art Festival sep2000

Pusan International Contemporary Art Festival

“Show me with your hands” – 3 channel video installation with sound.
The American A 10 pilot shows maneuvers for air combat and bombing with his hands. The whore and her daughter flying together out of the blue? Show me Korea is recorded on and around the U.S. Osan Air Force Base in South Korea after 2000. There is also the busy aircrew outside the Soul international airport. Korea, both South and North was bombed to sweitser cheese during the Korean War. Flying is reserved for military and commercial flying. The airspace over the country is a large military operations area. And VFR flight cards rekvirers through the American Department of Defense. Military and commercial interests have occupied airspace but have they also prevent the people from flying? As a small anthropological fly project I transfer the project forward in other countries.



Sisters in the Sky
45 painted portraits of female Pilots on Active Service during World War II…installed with sound.
World War II was the first war in which air power played a decisive role. However, it was not the first time women served as combat pilots. World War I saw the first aerial combat, and among the pilots there were a few women.
After World War I, it was clear that aviation had developed from a mere sport to a factor of definite social importance both in civilian life and in the armed forces.
The new possibilities in aviation seemed unlimited. And in the late 1930s young people all over the world flocked to the flying schools, where they were trained under programs often subsidized by the government.
This exhibit shows a small selection of the women who flew during World War II.



Sisters in the sky – en roadmovie fra luften, TV dokumentary 4 x 28:30′ by Simone Aaberg Kærn og Stine Kirstein DR/Zentropa produktions 1998 – 1999
Two Danish girls fly across America in a tiny airplane (the size of a phonebooth) to rendezvous with four American women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II.

Production Co: Zentropa Entertainments

Sisters In The Sky jul1997

Sisters In The Sky

Sisters in the Sky. Women Pilots In War Duty During WWII består af 45 oliemalerier af kvindelige piloter og lyden af kampfly. Portrætterne er malet ud fra fotografier af russiske, britiske og amerikanske kvindelige piloter fra 2. Verdenskrig, og under hvert portræt er der oplysninger om pilotens navn, militærrang, hendes nationalitet, regiment, fly og særlige missioner.

Installationen portrætterer kvinderne som stolte, stærke og målbevidste. I Sisters in the Sky. Women Pilots In War Duty During WWII bliver disse kvinder, hvis indsats ellers har været overset eller glemt i historieskrivningen, fremhævet, foreviget og hyldet. I 1998 modtager Kærn Jyllandspostens kunstpris og beslutter sig for at bruge pengene på at flyve tværs over USA for at besøge nogle af de amerikanske kvindelige piloter, hun har portrætteret. Det kommer der en række interviews ud af, som senere sendes i fjernsynet, og danner afsæt for hendes vovefulde færd til Kabul med fly.