David Ostrowski at JIR SANDEL

Artist: David Ostrowski

Exhibition title: Lieber Nackt Als Gefühlsleben

Curated by: JIR SANDEL

Venue: JIR SANDEL, Copenhagen, Denmark

Date: August 28 – September 2, 2020

Photography: Malle Madsen / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and JIR SANDEL, Copenhagen

Miss Idle went to the market
And a big fat cabbage she bought.

Noon had long struck its target
When she first made her way home.

She drew the water, lit the fire
And sat down, to rest a bit.

Meantime, unrushed and undire,
The sun sank into its pit.

Now that all zeal was over,
In the gloom, lone, she remained.

And to bed with no supper
Petty Idle ended her day.

Paola Paleari, 2020
Translated and adapted from the Italian rhyme La Pigrizia by Ettore Berni, 1899

Am 06.08.2020 um 12:28 schrieb Paola Paleari:


Dear David,

This is Paola from JIR SANDEL / Magnus’ gf. I hope this email finds you well!

I know from Magnus that you are busy and alone with your kid these days – being a bonus mom, I know how difficult the logistics of this combo can be.

I am starting a new job next week and therefore wanted to take advantage of the spare time and energy I have now to share an idea I had regarding the text for your show here at JIR (looking forward!)

By reading a few texts about you – especially your interviews – one element that has particularly impressed me is your systematical, even if not open, dismissal of many attempts of over-conceptualizing your painterly practice. It’s like you very often turn down the most boastful questions by slightly moving to the side and staying there – all the same without making it very noticeable. To me, it looks like a kind of passive resistance that I almost assimilate to Oriental doctrines, or maybe to how certain animals behave in situations where someone persistently tries to get them to react.

These sparse thoughts brought to my mind – in a strange glitch of memory – an Italian nursery rhyme that my dad used to recite to me as a child, whenever I acted lazily or didn’t follow his instructions about a task to be accomplished. The rhyme tells the story of a woman (an allegory for laziness) that goes to the market, buys a cabbage, and then doesn’t do anything else for the rest of the day, ending up to bed with an empty stomach.

The poem’s tone is obviously highly moralizing and is meant to teach kids how deplorable laziness is. But now, as an adult, I read the woman’s passive resistance as an absolutely beautiful thing – a choice of rest, contemplation and simplicity, and a refusal of productivity and standardization. As a little side note, I have recently found out that “cabbage” is a slang for paper money – which makes the counter-reading of the woman’s inefficiency even more interesting.

Long story short: I have translated the rhyme from Italian to English and I am now considering using this as a text for your show. Magnus says that I should add an elaboration to the poem, and tell why and how I got to this, but I see this as killing it a bit. For me, this “innocent” song already contains so much in itself…

I should also mention that, in my eyes, the show you’ll present here is so honest and straightforward, that I don’t see it as needing an intro or press or explanation of any kind. But this opens up a larger discourse that I’d like to take in-person/via Skype.

I guess I am stopping here for now, and let you have a look at the rhyme (I am attaching the original Italian version and my translation to this email). Let me know when you can have a chat – Monday around noon would work great for me, but we can find a moment in the weekend if this suits you best.

Have a great day and talk soon,



On Sat, 8 Aug 2020 at 12.57, David Ostrowski wrote:

Dear Paola,

nice to meet you.

Yeah right now we are on holiday mood as Eli has no day care till beginning of September.

I like all your ideas please go for it!! Let’s go for FaceTime on Monday noon.

I’m looking forward to it!

All my best,

PS: I assume Magnus already forwarded you my short show description: