What to See in Copenhagen During CHART
A compilation of the best exhibitions from across Denmark’s capital
A compilation of the best exhibitions from across Denmark’s capital
Javier Alvarez Sagredo
19 August – 30 September
For his graduation presentation at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2021, Javier Alvarez Sagredo presented Trauma: a framed, 10-metre-long fibre canvas that looked as if it had been left to blister in glaring sun to the point of corrosion. At Matteo Cantarella, the Chilean-Swedish artist continues working with found textile and linen that comprise rips, cracks and precariously stitched repairs. Sagredo’s fragile material arrangements evoke identity beyond zeitgeisty language, hinting at painful memories of childhood alienation through purely formal means. This is distilled in Untitled (Lágrimas) (2022), meaning ‘tears’ in Spanish, where chlorine and rabbit-skin glue has gnawed away at rough, unprimed linen, revealing a softer layer underneath.
Den Frie Udstilling
26 August – 22 October
Few art history books recall the seismic exhibition ‘kubisme=surrealisme’ (cubism=surrealism), the first international group show of surrealism in the Nordic region, which was staged at Den Frie in 1935 by local painter Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen. Thanks to the collaboration of surrealist godfather André Breton, the show included a comprehensive list of international protagonists, such as Hans Arp, Méret Oppenheim and Man Ray, as well as their regional counterparts, including Gösta Adrian-Nilsson and Dane Franciska Clausen – Scandinavians who had either sought out radical art movements in the European capitals or fought to nourish them locally. Nothing, however, was documented, and before the proverbial dust of this radical new vision for art had settled, its curatorial genesis had itself turned into a hazy dream. Now, as part of an archival inquiry into its own exhibition history, Den Frie is opening ‘Another Surrealism’, which, in the spirit of Walter Benjamin, revisits this oft-forgotten show in a playfully anachronistic fashion, juxtaposing historical works with examples of the current turn towards neo-surrealism in contemporary art – from the haunting psychogeographies of Ryan Trecartin to Bunny Rogers’s mysterious perfume advertisements.
Marie Kølbæk Iversen
27 August – 23 October
In 2017, scientists carbon-dating living Greenland sharks estimated they could be as old as 512, making them the longest-living known vertebrate on the planet. With their toxic flesh, mythological merman connotations and snail-like swimming pace through the deepest waters of the Arctic, these sharks caught the attention of Danish artist Marie Kølbæk Iversen. In the past, Iversen has sought out other mythological animals and demi-humans – black swans, Greco-Roman cow-women, amongst others – in her study of the limits of Western rationalism vis-à-vis folklore and science. These investigations are often political in nature: at her new solo exhibition at O–Overgaden, Iversen’s Rovhistorier (Histories of Predation, 2022) embarks, with the help of a team of marine biologists from Greenland, on what the show’s accompanying literature describes as ‘filmic time travel’ through this shark’s ancient gaze, traversing numerous sites of colonialization and environmental struggle in the North Atlantic, both past and present.
19 August – 14 October
Working in a lineage of female consumer-critical post-minimalism – from Sylvie Fleury to fellow countrywoman Nina Beier – Tora Schultz recontextualizes everyday items with precision and humour, often in reference to the gender biases haunting institutional design. With an almost neurotic attention to the qualities of materials, she extrapolates subtle social tensions inherent in the objects around us. In 2021, for example, she examined a staple of Danish design, the Magnus Olesen 8000 Series chair, which is too large for anyone except the male standard protagonist for whom it was designed. At Palace Enterprise, Schultz presents an equally ubiquitous design object, the industrial dishwashing rack, presenting it as a towering totem for feminized labour in the service industry.
‘P for Perspective’ & Torben Ebbesen
27 August – 9 October
When it comes to experimental, artist-run spaces, visitors should look no further than Simian, the independent Kunsthalle in Copenhagen’s Ørestad district, where solo presentations by emerging artists commingle with research-heavy exhibitions dedicated to historic figures. Two very different shows are currently on offer: the group exhibition ‘P for Perspective’ speculates on the legacy of Danish seismologist and geophysicist Inge Lehman, whose experimental reading of the forces of the inner Earth pushed for new cosmological understandings of motion, time and space. ‘Between Yes and No’ re-examines the expansive practice of Danish conceptual artist Torben Ebbesen, whose multifaceted work from the 1970s to today has tackled the labyrinthine aspect of human thinking within various scientific and spiritual cosmologies.
Gardar Eide Einarsson
19 August – 1 October
It’s been a little more than a year since the US$69.3 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days (2021) marked the brazen arrival of cryptocurrency in the art world, leading many an artist, gallerist and auction house to offer NFTs, seemingly overnight. What to make of its just as rapid decline? Gardar Eide Einarsson has frequently problematized the role of the artist in society, himself an ambivalent shapeshifter between martial artist, investor, entrepreneur and social critic. At Nils Stærk, Einarsson embarks on a tongue-in-cheek play on value and objecthood, presenting a series of deprecated bitcoin mining rigs, ambivalent monuments to the truly alchemical nature of crypto: a conversion of fossil fuels to electricity, data and, ultimately, to currency. Meanwhile, the painting We Hammer Down the Values (2022) depicts a coy cartoon figure with a hammer, as a jester-like reminder that a crypto economy, from an art-world perspective, is as likely to dissipate as it is to boom.
12 August – 8 September
With their punning titles and freehand assemblage aesthetic, Anne-Mette Schultz’s works invite intense semiotic scrutiny as well as light-hearted enjoyment. In Textitecture (2019), for instance, an unassuming piece of green tie-dyed fabric rests on the gallery floor, as if left behind by a visitor, while the title points to a very different material realm – that of text and architecture. Indeed, it is language that serves as a prompt for Schultz’s sculptures, even as they turn spatial or technical – Hul (Hole, 2020) and Hør (Linen, 2021), for example, are exactly what they imply – but her titles are also, sometimes, poetic decoys, as in Rejsebrille (Travel Glasses, 2020), where joyful, formal, material experimentation leaves viewers wondering what kind of journey the artist may be referring to. The title of her current exhibition at CCC, ‘Feria’ (meaning fair in Spanish), could easily be read as a sly nod to the city’s temporary takeover by art fairs, where exhibitions double as pop-up shops for wealthy globalites passing through the capital.
Main image: Aske Olsen, Everything is Real (detail), 2022, digital collage. Courtesy: the artist