martedì 2 novembre 2010

A Trip to Denmark

22 – 23 October

It was a whirlwind two days during a curatorial research trip to explore Copenhagen's art scene. My trip was made in order to explore possible ways that Vision Forum can expand and welcome its network to include other Nordic countries.

It was an exhilarating experience to cross the water into a country so close to Sweden, yet so different in its approach to art. This observation could be dependent on the artists I met and whose works I saw, but truly there was a different tone that I haven't quite formulated into words just yet. So for now I share with you my journey and introduce the people and art I had the opportunity to meet and see.

Despite the fact that the train from Stockholm to Copenhagen was an hour late, I managed to track down the studios of the first two groups on my list which were both fortunately located in the same area of the Old Carlsberg brewing factory. First up was a collective of four artists who call themselves
AKassen; Christian Bretton-Meyer, Morten Steen Hebsgaard, Søren Petersen and Tommy Petersen.

Individually, their backgrounds consist of sculpture, photography and painting, but together their work is about space and to "puncture architecture". Whether it relates to altering the inside of a white cube or outside of art's context within a community's public area, their work is narrative and at times humorous. (Check out
Concrete Floor and Lamp Post). Their works are always unique and specific to the space or event they are invited to exhibit at.

The one signature that binds their style together is that what they create is always subtle and challenging to the viewer's experience of art. There is no obvious object on a pedestal, instead one must actually participate as if they are on a treasure hunt to find and see a work created by AKassen. I experienced this first-hand when I went to the exhibition "Make Yourself At Home" at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. I walked into a large room of the exhibition space and saw two statues by Philip Aguirre y Otegui, some random glass window panes stacked on the floor in the corner and a large installation by Pascal Marthine Tayou. AKassen was in this room too as the wall label with their name on it told me, but at first I couldn't figure out what or where their work was! It wasn't until I looked up and saw the large, empty space in the ceiling where windows should have been that the light bulb went off in my head. This exhibition space has truly been punctured by AKassen.

After meeting with AKassen, I ran up a couple flights of stairs to have a short meeting with the artist duo Sixten Kai Nielsen and Martin Rosengaard who founded in collaboration with programmer Russell Ratshin. They function both as artists working on projects such as the ongoing democratic project known as New Life Copenhagen, and as managers of the virtual platform of which is an extensive web site for art practitioners to advertise information about works, open calls, exhibitions and other events taking place worldwide. I really enjoyed Rosengaard's and Nielsen's confidence and enthusiasm and who knows—maybe they will collaborate with Vision Forum in the near future.

The painter Mie Morkenberg was on my list of artists I wanted to meet, however she was out of town during my time in Copenhagen. I was particularly curious about her work for their narrative, dream-like references which is something of a personal interest. I was able to see a new mural exhibited at "Make Yourself At Home" and other paintings at Politikens Hus. Her paintings depict a scene from a room in a house and have a reference to the old-fashioned, yet are layered with sinister sensations of danger or harm like a nightmare.

The final artist that I met was the sculptor Henrik Menné, whom I should add is an engineering genius despite the fact he never studied this area as a profession. All of his sculptures are large scale, a mechanical creation that usually take in a specific material such as glue or wax and then reprocesses and emits it out into another ephemeral sculpture creation. His work captures notions of process, alteration and time that are visually stunning and engaging.

The best way to describe his work is through experience and photographs, which you can see on his gallery's site:
Galleri Tom Christoffersen.

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