There is something subtly mysterious about the films and photographs of the Danish artist Ulrik Heltoft. Drawing on literary narratives or scientific sources, his works often explore the conceptual and aesthetic potentials of specific technologies. Despite his experimental use of his media, his photography evinces a uniform clear and brilliant quality.

For his exhibition at the Secession, Heltoft has created a new film titled Kabinet. It is based on a piece of social critique that has been adapted for the screen many times: Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol (1843), in which the confrontation with ghosts inspires the old and stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge to open his heart and change his ways. As in many of his projects, Heltoft plays all parts in the film, which focuses on the protagonist’s threefold encounter with his own spirit. He meets himself in the past, present, and future, or in other words, himself as a young man, his present self, and the man he may yet become. The footage showing the protagonist is the same in all three acts, but as his counterpart changes appearances, so does his position in space: the ghost of the past directly faces the camera, whereas the ghost of the present is seen only from behind, and the ghost of the future ambles through the room, singing, in a synthetic voice, “Daisy Bell,” the song the intelligent computer HAL in Kubrick’s science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey sings as it loses its mind when it is shut down…

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