It has become difficult, not to say impossible, to point to a single date that marks the beginning of the Danish art season. Last Friday saw the opening of Silas Emmery’s exhibition at Galleri Jules Julian, whereas Norwegian artist Tiril Hasselknippe showed breaking waves, AKA blue fibreglass floor objects at a Copenhagen gallery with a name to match the artwork’s 1980s shade of blue: peinture et sculpture. During the summer the artist-run venue Years has exhibited works by Rasmus Røhling, who belongs to roughly the same generation, but leans rather more towards a discourse analytic approach. And the next three to four weekends will see the official opening of all the autumn exhibitions.
The last weekend of August has “Chart” written all over it – a new Copenhagen art fair that is being launched as an exclusive Nordic fair featuring just 22 specially selected galleries (approximately half of which are Danish and can be counted amongst the most international of their kind: Andersen’s Contemporary, Susanne Ottesen, Nicolai Wallner, Christian Andersen, etc.). The prominent venue alone – Kunsthal Charlottenborg – will undoubtedly imbue Chart with a greater air of exclusivity than the established Art Copenhagen fair, which is held in Forum. The sheer scale of Chart’s ambition is also evident from the succulently hip selection of music acts featured at the opening party (Vinnie Who, Synd & Skam, etc.) and in its architectural contributions from BIG, the most celebrated architectural firm in Denmark today. The press material also announces that the fair has co-operated with the director of Charlottenborg, Jacob Fabricius, on determining the programme and its content of lectures, performance art, and events. In this sense, too, Chart has successfully forged links with the crème de la crème of Danish contemporary art – certainly for this first appearance. The question is, of course, whether an institution like Charlottenborg should host such a recurring art fair in the long term?
The merger between Kunsthal Charlottenborg and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts celebrates its first anniversary this autumn. The Kunsthal in particular has had something of a kamikaze year, soldiering on without a director for some six months (after Mark Sladen chose to return to London) and then with Jacob Fabricius as a director-of-all-trades (overlapping as director of Malmö Konsthall, too, for a while) since February. And the Academy is buzzing with excitement on the issue of who will succeed Ann Lislegaard, who stepped down as professor of the School of Media Art this summer after holding the office for nine years.
Charlottenborg will open its autumn season with a mixed bunch of solo exhibitions – Sora Kim, Karl Holmqvist, Silke Otto-Knapp, and the Swedish landscape painter Carl Fredrik Hill – and end the year with a large-scale Superflex retrospective: no less than ten curators (Charles Esche, Yuko Hasegawa, Eungie Joo, Toke Lykkeberg, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lisa Rosendahl/Daniel McCLean, Adriano Pedrosa, Agustín Pérez Rubio, and Hilde Teerlinck) have been invited to curate their own takes on a retrospective Superflex exhibition, all of which will be shown concurrently at Charlottenborg. Hence we will have at least nine exhibitions and a veritable curator-bonanza. Nothing less will do to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the longest-lived artists’ group still active in Denmark today.
Mergers are a familiar concept in Odense, too, where Kunsthallen Brandts, Museet for fotokunst, and Fyns Kunstmuseum have been merged to form a new, single museum this summer. The directors of the three institutions – Lars Grambye, Ingrid Fischer Jonge, and Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen – all left their positions before the merger was a reality. The name, exhibition programme, and structure of the new institution have yet to be announced, but recently the new director, Mads Damsbo, told the Danish newspaper Politiken that it aims to “be amongst the Top 5 Danish art museums, for example measured by the number of visitors attracted.” The new museum shares its location with The Funen Art Academy, which also faces interesting times after its administrative staff was fired just before the summer holidays – and which is currently advertising for a new professor. A very important position at this small academy, where the vacant position is one of just three professorships.
News can also be found outside the merger-mad institution scene – amongst the galleries and the smaller exhibition venues.
The active artists’ collective Toves Galleri were temporarily housed at Charlottenborg when they became homeless in the spring and will now reopen in new premises on Siljansgade on Amager. Their first exhibition will feature Christopher Kline and Sol Calero, a collaborative effort, and opens in early October.
There are also signs to suggest that Uffe Holm AKA Uffe Isolotto (another one of the Tove artists) will launch an alter ego – specifically into the Copenhagen harbour. For in connection with the artist’s solo exhibition at Overgaden in early September, Holm’s stunt double will re-enact Bas Jan Ader’s legendary bicycle ride, relocating the event from the canals of Amsterdam to those of the Christianshavn borough in Copenhagen.
Anticipation also runs high for the opening of the new exhibition venue Fauna on Borups Allé in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen. The venue is created by the artist Rolf Nowotny and his wife, the art historian Olga Nowotny, and the couple state that they “wish to give the Copenhagen art scene something that they miss themselves.” “Fauna will be about body, materiality, the abject, the beautiful, the intuitive, the narrative, the introverted, the imaginative, the horrific: All things alive, vibrant, pulsating with vigour,” Rolf Nowotny informs us. The main emphasis is placed on artists at the outset of their careers, but the Nowotnys will also seek to “recontextualise older generations of artists and to incorporate ‘non-art’ such as design, crafts, and various curiosities.” Fauna will have its debut in mid-September with a solo exhibition featuring Sandra Vaka Olsen. And the two subsequent group exhibitions – Noisy Spaghetti and Urschleim – also boast highly appetizing names, although these were not yet finally confirmed at the time of going to press.
In late August the Henningsen Gallery will reopen in larger premises in the Carlsberg area in Copenhagen – specifically in 400m2 of cellar space underneath Fotografisk Center – and will present, amongst other things, an exhibition of artworks based on texts and paper. Curated by Maria Kjær Themsen, the exhibition will include contributions from e.g. Karl Larsson, Toril Johannessen, and Peter Thörneby.
Louisiana’s autumn exhibition is about the arctic regions, particularly about mankind’s fascination with North Pole. Curated by director Poul Erik Tøjner and art historian Kristoffer Ussing Seeberg, Arctic offers a “spectacular and large-scale visual experience that leads visitors through the fantasies and images that mankind conjures up about the magical white wasteland.” The artists, writers, and explorers featured in the exhibition have not yet been revealed, but Louisiana promises to present “the big picture of a journey of discovery that spans two centuries”.
If Arctic sounds like a typical Louisiana exhibition – and if ARoS’ upcoming exhibition featuring Tal R sounds like a typical ARoS exhibition – it is rather surprising to see what is going on at J.F. Willumsen’s Museum and indeed at Statens Museum for Kunst. The latter exhibits works by the 1980s artist Haim Steinbach, whose continuous study of the phenomenon of “display” differs somewhat from more recent generations of artists’ fetish for the subject, but for this reason alone it may be interesting to revisit Steinbach’s objects (ranging from Nike shoes to ethnografica) displayed on shelves at this particular point in time.
The Willumsen Museum in Frederiksund exhibits J.F. Willumsen in the company of the similarly figurative – and no less potent – painters Francis Picabia and Julian Schnabel. This is a combination we had hardly seen coming, but which nevertheless looks promising on paper. Café Dolly is curated by the artists Claus Carstensen (who else?!) and Christian Vind in co-operation with PhD fellow Anne Gregersen.
When the autumn draws to a close we will probably be able to put a name to the new director of Malmö Konsthall. The application deadline is 15 September according to a job advertisement recently issued by e-flux, and the very first line of the job description read: “Work for the City of Malmö! By working for the City of Malmö you will have the opportunity to work with sustainable social development.” Let us hope that this municipal-cum-recruitment consultancy rhetoric does not have too much of an impact on the choice of the new director. If it does, we may well see that Malmö Konsthall cannot retain the central position it has held – for the Copenhagen art scene, too – in recent decades.