1 December

Which art shows were the very best of the year in the Nordic region? Artist Uffe Isolotto offers his selection.

Simon Starling, Houseboat for Ho, 2023. Photo: Simon Starling, Image courtesy Studio Simon Starling.

Simon Starling, A Houseboat for Ho, Ho, Commissioned by the Danish Arts Foundation and Varde Municipality

After several years of dithering, a new work of art was finally inaugurated in the town of Ho on the Danish west coast. Simon Starling’s artwork involved building a kind of ark fusing Bolivian boat building with Danish roof thatching methods – a project which acts as an extension of the transformative boat sculptures he has created through the years. The hybrid vessel now stands in a low-lying field like an omen of climate changes to come, awaiting the flood. Or perhaps it represents hope: might we overcome the challenges by combining our strength and knowledge?

Michael Boelt Fischer, Småt Brændbart, Møllegade Nærgenbrug, København

Michael Boelt Fischer, Småt Brændbart (Small Combustible Waste), Møllegade Recycling Site, Copenhagen

As an artist, would you ever want to throw away your stock of older, unsold works, even if it was for recycling? Many will cringe at the idea, but the truth is that we artists pile up older works in the hope that one day someone will exhibit or buy them. The market, vanity, and the desire for immortality are all powerful forces. Michael Boelt Fischer’s exhibition grappled with these issues. Works from his storeroom were sorted as “small combustible waste” at the recycling site and put out for collection by anyone who could haul it home on their bike. The rest was collected for incineration the following day.

Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind, As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night, 2022 (3-channel video, 21’). Courtesy of the artists. Photo: Lenka Rayn H.

Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind, Tomorrow’s Ghosts, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg

In the museum’s basement, Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and Danish ditto Søren Lind staged a splendid exhibition featuring two film works and a series of bronze sculptures of ammunition. The film, As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night (2022), made a big impression on me, especially in light of our current reality. The work is a cross between Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (1904) and a traditional Palestinian rebel song, one which has been regularly rewritten throughout history with each new conflict. Soprano Nour Darwish sings the aria in a keenly honed, stylistic staging that interweaves many strands across time. The effect left me floored.

– Uffe Isolotto is an artist living in Copenhagen. He represented Denmark at the Venice Biennale in 2022 and has since worked on taking the project from the Danish pavilion further in installations in Copenhagen and Riga.

For this year’s contributions to the Advent Calendar, see here