Maria Zahle: My Favourite Phone Number

26 Mar 2015 – 26 Apr 2015


England, United Kingdom


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Until very recently the phone number in my childhood home had existed largely unchanged for more than 35 years. Last year though, it was decided to disconnect the landline as its functions had been surpassed by a mobile and free internet phone services.


Looking into the history of the Copenhagen telephone codes it becomes clear that phone numbers have been in a constant state of flux. The first number was 115727. Then (01) 11 57 27. In 1986 it became 01 11 57 27. In 1989 we got a new number again, 31 11 57 27. Or did it change straight away to 33 11 57 27? I’m not quite sure. It’s all the same number, but with new digits.

In my workspace at home I’m making seven large numbers that will hang at eye height encircling the room. They’re made from fabric that I’ve dyed in my studio: in pink, blue, yellow, green, and turquoise. While starting to cut and sew my numbers I’m figuring out how to construct them, whether they need two layers or one, whether they need to be flat, stiff, or uneven. I’m working with cotton and linen, and striped coloured dyes. Each number has its own identity, its own colour or colour combination. One of the numbers will be in a different material.

33115727 is, to me, a number which contains a whole life, maybe more than one. 33115727 is a life that I have lived but given up. 33115727 is a long childhood with the smell of scrubbed wooden floors and wet socks. 33115727 is a number I dial late at night to say that I am staying over at Lotte’s place. 33115727 is a number that shows up on my phone display and I know it’s my mother calling. 33115727 is a number I’m proud of and that I want to tell you all about. It used to be my number, but it isn’t anymore.

I’m surprised that I feel so emotionally attached to this number. Through remaking the number component by component in my studio I study it, and make this feeling physical, real.

Maria Zahle (with thanks to her sister Nanna Kann-Rasmussen)

Maria Zahle (b. 1979. DK) graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2009. She is co-founder of the London project space The Hex. In 2014 she was awarded the ARMA artist in residence and commission for the New Walk Museum, Leicester, UK. Her major architectural commission for the Department of Energy Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, DK will be completed later this year. Zahle is also a musician and member of music group ‘Squares & Triangles’, their debut LP is released by FOAM later this year. This is Zahle’s second solo show with Arcade, she lives and works in London and Copenhagen.

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Maria Zahle


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