Posted by: Stenros | May 27, 2009

Rape Me


It is the season for dissertations in arts. On Saturday a Norwegian art student Karl Edvin Endersten staged a performance that contained an IKEA kitchen, the text “Rape Me”, and served date rape drugs to his audience. The police showed up and arrested Endersten as GHB is an illegal drug in Norway. The audience thought that the police were part of the installation. The museum director called the installation bad art and removed it from the installation.

The artist stands by his work. The drug was only served to willing participants (and not to children). He sees the work as a social experiment. “The work crosses some boundaries, but I stand by it one hundred percent. It clearly breaks the law and there is a risk for me personally. But I have done what I can to minimize the risks,” Endersten says.

Though I think this is an interesting piece of work in general, what grabs me in regard to pervasive play is the fact that the audience thought that the plain clothes police officers were part of the installation. Also, the clash between ethics (consenting adults engaged in an activity that has an artistic and societal goal) and legality (drugs are illegal) is something we discuss in the upcoming book. Urban exploration and other public space movements face similar problems.

Post based on reporting in Aftenposten (Norwegian), Dagens Nyheter (Swedish) and Helsingin Sanomat (Finnish). I haven’t found this reported in English yet. Photograph by the artist, quoted from Aftenposten.


  1. I’m of the opinion that artist getting arrested for his work is often a signal of the piece being “good art”

    Kudos to Endersten.

    (I also think that doing something as a piece of artwork is not a legal excuse. For some artists, an occasional arrest might be a part of their work.)

    – M

  2. I love Tommy Olsson’s comment in the Aftenposten article.

  3. *cough* Norwegian *cough*

    Could you translate that for me, Matthijs, Babelfish does not know Norwegian..?

    – M

  4. Ah, sorry. The comment from the curator on the removal of the work translates to something like:

    “Although the artist possibly did something illegal, IKEA kitchens are, as far as I know, still legal in this country. If they claim to have removed the work because it was of low quality, I don’t think anyone above the age of 10 buys that. It sounds very _tissetrengt_”. (The last word means the feeling you have when you need to pee).

  5. Thanks! :-)

    – M

  6. […] three student art works that we have reported on (Odell’s Kvinna, okänd, Endersten’s Rape Me and Kela’s Alter Ego) fit very nicely in our little triangle, somewhere between A, D and […]

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