16 December

A red-headed bog body from the Iron Age plays the main role in one of this year’s greatest exhibitions, according to artist Kristoffer Akselbo.

Skjold Rambow, Poser, 2023, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen. Photo: Jonas Ankerhus.

Skjold Rambow performing Poser at Kunstnernes København (‘The Artists’ Copenhagen’), Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen

A large group of costumed performers made up entirely in silver glides through the exhibition space. Moments later, they come together in a restless mass reminiscent of Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19). The audience immortalises themselves and the performers while a shower of confetti euro notes descends upon us all. The hat is passed around, and the otherwise motionless silver-painted street artist suddenly feels very present. Everyone in the group has a real flair for drama – or certainly acts as if posing and appearing on stage is all in a day’s work for them. Powerful and beautiful street theatre as contemporary art.

Installation view, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Hypnic Jerk, Kunsthal Aarhus, 2023. Photo: Jacob Friis Holm Nielsen.

Simon Dybbroe Møller, Hypnic Jerk, Kunsthal Aarhus, Aarhus

At the heart of the exhibition was the video Bag of Bones, projected onto a huge screen. The work features a strangely disturbing digital animation of a sofa and the scanned remains of the Grauballe Man, a famous Danish bog body. As the exhibition title indicates, the Grauballe Man finds himself in a liminal, transitional phase between waking and dreaming. He is an augmented archaeological artefact that is never allowed to rest – a being in a limbo, suspended between different states of belonging and subtly accompanied by Mario Bellini’s 1970s design classic, a sofa with the self-invented name “Camaleonda.” Ritually executed back in the Iron Age and given over to the bog as a sacrifice, the Grauballe Man appeared as a work of art in a basement in Kunsthal Aarhus”

Illiyeen, No Justice, No Love, 2023. Performed by Eliyah Mesayer, Stine Victoria & Joakim Wei Bernild. Photo: Rune Schytte.

Eliyah Mesayer, No Justice, No Love, New Carlsberg Foundation, Folkemødet, Allinge

At the Folkemødet democracy festival on the island of Bornholm, I had a strange encounter near the Carlsberg Foundation’s camp. In a black tent, standing behind a white table with an open folder on it, were three people dressed in black. A name appeared in printed letters on the table and on a black suitcase: Illiyeen. I was asked to sanitise my hands and dry them with tissues placed by the opened folder. The folder contained new laws. As I read, it dawned on me that the laws consist of love poems and songs. Illiyeen is Eliyah Mesayer’s invented nation, a state for the stateless, rooted in human encounters and alchemical connections – appearing here on Bornholm through the alchemy of love.

Kristoffer Akselbo is an artist based in Odense. Working primarily with performance and installation art, Akselbo is currently part of the Artistic Practice programme at Art Hub Copenhagen. Akselbo is an associate professor at the Funen Art Academy, Odense.

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