Even though it is now more than a few weeks ago that the artist’s run space Toves offered an early start to the autumn season with the refreshing group exhibition Cucumber Bones – an auspicious beginning for the Copenhagen art season as the year vanes – most will probably regard the last weekend in August, so absurdly lashed by rain, as the true start of the season.
For the second year in a row the new art fair Chart was held at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. As in the first year only 22 carefully selected galleries had been invited, a fact which – particularly when offset by the grand setting and the seal of institutional approval this entails – gives the fair a rather exclusive air. Indeed, the Danish galleries featured here belong amongst the most international and firmly established of their kind. The same is true of the various representatives of the other countries here; only the absence of a few galleries, such as Standard (Oslo), prevents this from being a full complement of the cream of the commercial Nordic art crop.
The battle surrounding the writing of the history of the 1990s has been waged for some time now, and a quick glance of the exhibitions offered by Danish and international art institutions demonstrates that the struggle is far from over. This autumn’s exhibitions on Danish soil include two shows that add new pieces to the puzzle – Olafur Eliasson’s Riverbed at Louisiana and Elmgreen & Dragset’s Biography at Statens Museum for Kunst, opening in mid-September. Eliasson and Elmgreen & Dragset both belong to those representatives of the 1990s generation who settled in the new Berlin that arose a few years after the fall of the Berlin wall. Back when Mitte was undergoing such extensive reconstruction and refurbishment that the pavements were full of holes and no restaurants accepted Visa.
Even as Mitte gradually grew into the generic Soho-like neighbourhood of cheese cake cafés and Margiela outfits seen today, so too did the careers of Eliasson, Elmgreen & Dragset, and a number of other 1990s artists – all of them members of a generation who rendered their artistic endeavours truly professional on the international scene, prompting exhibitions of hitherto unseen scope and frequency. Indeed, both parties have already had plenty of retrospectives, albeit staged under a variety of headlines.
For their autumn season ARoS offers a major presentation of the Danish artists’ duo Hanne Nielsen & Birgit Johnsen’s installation video works as well as special exhibition featuring Michael Kvium, and the Aarhus museum ends its year with what are certain to be grandiose multimedia installations by the artist couple Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
At the conglomerate museum Brandts in Odense – the result of a recent merger of three of the city’s museums – we can now discern the outlines of the programme ushered in by recently appointed director Mads Damsbo. After a themed exhibition on tattoos and a Kurt Trampedach show, this autumn’s schedule will include a Peter Martensen exhibition.
Overgaden opened its autumn season with a solo exhibition featuring Christian Vind as well as the openly curated group exhibition Coming From, where 35 Danish artists show examples of objects or other relevant materials that inspire them in their artistic practice. Later this season the venue will present an exhibition on Yvette Brackman; an event planned and staged in an ongoing dialogue with the artist’s mother and her experiences as a Polish Jew during the Soviet regime. One of Brackman’s areas of interest is the question of how memories and trauma can be inherited from one generation to the next.
Towards the end of October the privately owned art venue Faurschou Foundation will present the results of a collaboration between Jens Haaning and Santiago Sierra. According to the artists Marie Thams and Kim Kilde, who initiated the project, the overall intention is to link up two artistic practices that are both very strong in their own right, and which have, each in their own distinctive way, made a real impression with socially aware, system-critical projects. Haaning and Sierra have created the work The Copenhagen Declaration specifically for the venue’s 900 m2 space in the Nordhavnen area of Copenhagen.
In Denmark, as in so many other places, we have not quite yet reached the stage where it is usual for one of Copenhagen’s leading institutions to present an annual programme dominated by solo exhibitions featuring female artists. Hence, it is particularly noteworthy to see how Charlottenborg, hot on the heels of this summer’s exhibition of Camille Henrot, enters the autumn season with two solo exhibitions of women artists, one featuring the Israeli-born Keren Cytter (b.1977), the other the British artist Rose English (b.1950). The latter had her breakthrough on the feminist art scene of 1970s London, and since then she has taken her point of departure in conceptual art and performance in the wider sense of the term, working within the realms of theatre, circus, and dance. Curated by Stine Hebert, rector of Funen Art Academy, the exhibition will focus on the artist’s equine-themed works, which address the horse as a figure and as a performer alike.
Under the auspices of the exhibition venue Signal, which is usually based in Malmö, Kunsthal Charlottenborg also shows a Jennifer Tee exhibition. Just as Toves Galleri has previously been given temporary shelter at Charlottenborg after losing the lease of its former premises, so too is Signal now moving into the halls of Charlottenborg while looking for a new venue of their own. Their move was necessitated by the termination of their lease in connection with the restaurant Grand. A shame, really, for the set-up was an unusually successful combination of an exhibition venue and popular restaurant.
Now, supplemented by Den Frie’s current presentation of the late Danish artist Susanne Ussing’s hybrid endeavours within art and architecture – work that belongs to approximately the same generation as Rose English – and the Staten Museum for Kunst’s exhibition of cult epigone Lutz Bacher, we actually see the outline of an autumn season with a genuinely new drift: the presentation of important female artists at the capital city’s major institutions.