There was no better way to end my summer than in Copenhagen, a vibrant city known for its creativity, design, boundary-pushing cuisine, and for being a polestar of progress when it comes to art. With only a recent history of art fairs, it is remarkable that the Scandinavian capital is now home to not just one, but two concurrent art fairs: CODE and CHART.
For its sixth edition, Chart (31st August – 2nd September, 2018 ) took place in the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a beautiful baroque palace where 32 leading Nordic galleries eschewed the traditional booth structure, presenting their artworks in a museum setting, which turned out to be a more enjoyable viewing experience than at a typical art fair.
After a tour of the rooms, most of them shared by multiple galleries, I turned back to that of Galleria Heino, with new works by Finland´s acclaimed photographer and video artist, Elina Brotherus. With a bit of luck the artist was there and I had a chance to talk with her about the way she deals with her own biography by exploring the possibilities of photographic self-dramatization. Brotherus talked about the meaning of her One Minute Sculptures (2007) in collaboration with Erwin Wurm and how she was able to shoot her Nu montant un escalator (2017) nude video at 6 am, and in only two hours, on the escalator at the Centre Pompidou.
Other noteworthy galleries were Andersen’s presenting of works like Shiyuan Liu’s Chair No. 10 (2018), Andersson/Sandström with large-scale works by Turner Prize-winning British sculptor, Tony Cragg, Norwegian gallery Golsa with Perla Piago’s Excerpt from A, nr. 1 (2018) and Galleri Nicolai Wallner with Jose Dávila showing One in the other (2018).
Chart also organized a party for the local and international guests, which I decided to skip and attended instead a reception at the Copenhagen Contemporary, one of Denmark’s largest art spaces. The senior curator, Jannie Haagemann explained how this museum started as an ambitious experiment two years ago, and the work it took to finance a mainly privately funded institution with the support of the country’s largest foundations coupled with financial backing from the City of Copenhagen.
In the vast 7,000 m2 space, the museum allowed the Danish collective Superflex and American artist Doug Aitken to think big. The large-scale installation, probably familiar to those who visited the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall earlier this year, with tubular orange metal swings of One Two Three Swing! reappear in a new configuration, where the swings are designed for three people to swing together and experience the potential of collective energy.
In the last room Doug Aitken’s 35-minute immersive video installation, SONG 1 incorporates video clips projected on a large circular screen. Actors and musicians, including Tilda Swinton, sing The Flamingo’s hit song from 1973, I Only Have Eyes for You . The audience can walk around or step into the spatial video work, while time and place take on another dimension within human experience.
I reserved my last day in Copenhagen for CODE (30th August – 2nd September, 2018), a new international art fair and the only one in Scandinavia that gathers upcoming and established galleries under one roof. Code also presents films, a series of talks Next Generation and ArtxBrand, as well as a performance program curated by Irene Campolmi.
In its third edition, Code welcomed 78 galleries from over twenty countries across five continents. I could see a balanced selection of galleries, from renowned ones to emerging or very young ones participating for the first time, such as Careva Contemporary from Riga.
Here are my top picks from the art on offer, in no particular order:
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