13 December

Which art experiences were high points in 2021? Today, curator Fafaya Mogensen lists her three favourites.

Sahar Jamili, Installation View, I See Monsters Everywhere, Villa Kultur, 2021. Photo: Brian Kure.

Sahar Jamili, I See Monsters Everywhere, Villa Kultur, Copenhagen, curated by Ida Schyum

Sahar Jamili marked out a distance. Combining careful reflection with razor-sharp edginess, the artist closed the distance between people and their words, demonstrating how distance creates difference as well as narratives about life on the other side. I wonder if there is a way for us to truly hear each other and to feel heard? The exhibition captured the feeling of losing one’s definition and form as story and history, wrapped up in edges, dimensions, and weight. Through a range of objects and archives, including intimate family portraits, Jamili animated the mechanics underpinning our identity, creating an honesty in the distance – a distance from our expectations of identity and the realities of its many folds – making this existence something to love.

Lea Porsager, installation view, STRIPPED, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, 2021. Photo: David Stjernholm. Courtesy Lea Porsager.

Lea Porsager, STRIPPED, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen

The notion of cutting something open to see what is hidden inside is a simple gesture, but it can be shocking when what one dissects reveals itself to be something more than just a machine. The exhibition was a response to Renaissance ideals of the work of art as a window opening onto another world. Here we learned that the wind turbine is as much a surface for projections as it is a constructed object. In our age, it is a meditation on the body as a smooth, metallic machine – on the commercialised skin of our culture and what lies hidden underneath.

Peter Spanjer, What Do You Desire, INTER.PBLC., København. Foto: INTER.PBLC.

Peter Spanjer, What Do You Desire, INTER.PBLC., Copenhagen

The inevitable momentum of time coupled with sheer boredom means that someone need to radiate something new, even in those moments when everything feels pretty much the same. The artist-run venue INTER.PBLC delivered. The works felt self-aware in a way that is peculiar to Peter Spanjer. Featuring tense biceps and naked torsos, the videos looked like emotions incarnate, facilitating a critique that rendered visible the cultural, phenomenological, and political workings of desire. The boundary between art and life was very much blurred (surely, the avant-garde must rejoice), and for a moment I was as invested in the works as in the world itself.

– Fafaya Mogensen is an art historian, curator, and freelancer at V1 Gallery. She is a co-founder of the nomadic exhibition space Arrange the Ants, which works to create a community and space for BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic), femme, queer, and working-class people in the art world. 

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