Over the door of one of the most coveted addresses in Copenhagen, hangs a white neon sign with the word ‘Limbo’ bend. If you choose to step inside you have to prepare yourself for a world where beauty and mainstream art bends down to soul-searching artists, human cakes, Japanese porn and an anarchy loving test-tube baby as an owner.
Limbo is an art venue that recently opened in inner Copenhagen, and behind it stands model, artist and provocateur, Sophus Ritto. Forget what you know about art in picture frames, and get used to buying the human body as a canvas and decorating or destroying it.
Prepare yourself to get lost in Limbo. You will experience a place where the lust for change is dripping off the walls, mixed in with blood prints and retro pornographic movies. You may hate it, but you sure as hell can’t argue with the fact that you aren’t bored.
The only thing that really resembles a classic gallery is the fact that Sophus is planning to exhibit various different artist in his venue. And then again, he manages to change things up: you can’t expect to only experience the work of an artist down there. You could actually be looking at the work of that one homeless man Sophus pulled in, or just the work of a man who couldn’t afford going to therapy. And who are we to say who is an artist or not?
We met Sophus Ritto at the day of the Limbo-opening. The young model, barely dressed as always, with a white contact lens on one eye and gestures almost as big as his level of ambition. It is an hour before the opening, and soon the place will be filled with artsy and hip Copenhageners who will be invited to experience art in a different way in the world of Limbo. Or rather – into the mind of Sophus.
Can you show me around?
Sophus Ritto: Yes – here I will be sitting and tattooing myself later today. I will be writing Limbo backwards and then make a print on toilet paper. I use my own body a lot. I want to make right-facing prints by using my body. In reality it becomes very subtle that way. It just looks like someone who isn’t very good at printmaking. There are some different sculptures here. Homemade tattoo machines. By my own design. It is both my workshop and my exhibition space, so there will be something happening constantly down here. I want to change the way you usually look at thing in a gallery, where you normally just put out the best selling things. This way is more electric. The Limbo neon sign is going to be on a lot. And when it is on that means we are open.
What is going on behind that door?
Sophus Ritto: Try and go in there. It’s the ‘Redrum’ named after the movie “The Shining”.
We enter a very small and elongated room, padded with red velvet from floor to ceiling, a blue neon sign with the text Limbo, and a screen that shows the Japanese porn movie “realm of senses”.
What’s the story behind this room?
Sophus Ritto: It is a form of private room where you can go and be yourself. It is a combination of the fact that you get really horny and also being inside your mother’s womb again. Close the door again. And we are showing a Japanese art house porn from ’76 that I think is pretty cool. It forms an amazing organism.
Artwork by Sophus Ritto.
“Tom, WAIT!?” by Sophus Ritto.
What’s the story behind your piece “Tom, WAIT!?”
Sophus Ritto: The story is… well… I have several ways of working. One is very energetic and exhibitionistic, where I find materials that turn me on, or that I like. Then I turn my brain off and bang it all together with tools. And then references appear with time. But really I am most interested in making the idiom as simple as possible. And that it is easy accessible. That’s exactly how Tom is made.
Another concept is where people come in to buy some of my work, I will be sitting very undressed in the setting that you and I are in right now, and then you as a buyer can say: “Oh, I actually think you need a tattoo of a watch on your hand” and then you can buy that part of my body, and then tattoo me. I will give you a price depending on size and location, and then we draw up a contract. I think the interaction is amazing. People sweat, their eyes tear up and they shake all over their body. It is so intense.
How long have you been making art?
Sophus Ritto: It has been my main focus for 2-3 years, but I grew up in a home with a lot of art. My mother, who also is a part of this art venue, paints, and we actually started the Academy of Fine Arts at the same time. Me in Vienna and her in Amsterdam. I think art is the ultimate freedom.
What is the intention with Limbo?
Sophus Ritto: I like the word anarchy in a society as Denmark. When the surroundings become really pleasant, people get bored. What I want from culture in general and this place is a way to bring back those feelings that have gotten lost in our society. The most exciting thing in history is when someone tried to change something.
What do you hope Limbo will evolve to?
Sophus Ritto: The concept in itself for me is Limbo. This is not a franchise and it is not bound by a geographic location. I think that is exciting that it moves. I don’t know how long I will be doing this or how long I will stay in Denmark, but I feel that Denmark has an interest in this sort of energy.
Performance by Salvatore Viviano at the opening of Limbo.
Don’t you think it is lame with all this art that is just made to provoke?
Sophus Ritto: Yes, if the only intend is to provoke. But feel free to do it. I don’t think like that in my process. I don’t think about how people will receive it. Something has to be like that – just because.
Many artists are really good at making big budget things. I think provocation is a weird thing to reach for. If that is your intention then go ahead – you will probably get your wanted reaction, but to me it has no soul and there is nothing great about that.
How do you decide if a piece is finished?
Sophus Ritto: It is 100% a feeling. Nothing else. But it can easily change. I just changed my “Tom, WAIT!” It is more fluently for me in my process.
Why the name Limbo?
Sophus Ritto: Limbo has good aspects and references, and it is super sexy to say. It is a intermediate stage – you are in Limbo. It is a state of mind that is between life and death. And it is also a very lovely dance where you go underneath a stick. I am thinking about having strip limbo every thursday. Have you tried that? I am definitely trying that. So that’s why.
Which artists do you plan to have exhibited here?
Sophus Ritto: Limbo needs to feel it has something to offer. But people can always contact me and show me what they do when the door is open. I met a homeless that I need to get in contact with. It doesn’t have to be artists, but people who need a little therapy maybe.
Interview by Sidsel Welden and Sille Sørensen.