16 December

Angels disappearing in the fog and an exhibition so mellow you felt like having tea with it. Louise Steiwer looks back at the year’s best art experiences.

Arthur Jafa, Magnumb, installation View (Large Array, 2020). Photo: Anders Sune Berg / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Arthur Jafa, Magnumb, Louisiana, Humlebæk

Some exhibitions encapsulate the spirit of the times with such precision and poignancy that you just know straight away, halfway through the first work, that we will be talking a lot more about them. That’s how I felt about Arthur Jafa’s The White Album (2018), which won the artist the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale and opened Louisiana’s scoop of a solo show. The video cuts between harrowing, gritty You Tube clips depicting questionable or downright violent aspects of whiteness interspersed with lingering, almost loving, portraits of white people in Jafa’s own life. It provided an obvious opportunity to examine the performance of one’s own whiteness – not as a privileged neutrality, but as one position among others.

Tomomi Yawakama, Mimosa Pudica \ Wood Louse, 2021. Akryl på lærred, 40 x 50 x 1.5 cm

Tomomi Yamakawa, Tomomi’s group show: At the time I was running down the stairs, Red Tracy, Copenhagen

After a year that has felt unusually tense politically (or is it just me?), what I really needed was to have tea with Tomomi Yamakawa in her mellow show at Red Tracy. The emphasis was on survival strategies, but of the kind that are very small and gently designed: the woodlouse that rolls into a ball at the slightest touch, the magical thinking inherent in keeping your lucky number in your pocket, and the box of paper tissues standing on your therapist’s coffee table. I felt like moving permanently into Yamakawa’s sensitive, exquisite world.

Mira Winding, I come to take you home, 2021, Another Map to Nevada, 2021. Photo: Luis Artemio de los Santos. © The Performance Agency, Den Frie Udstilling, Husets Teater.

Another Map to Nevada, the Copenhagen harbour, curated by The Performance Agency in collaboration with Toaster and Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art

In the category of experience economy highlights, my definite number one was the performative canal tour Another Map to Nevada. On a boat gliding quietly through the Copenhagen harbour at dusk while the lights in the luxury buildings along the quay slowly came on, passengers could glimpse Mira Winding’s angel, its back turned on us as it disappeared over a bridge, or suddenly see Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen’s silhouette emerge from the fog like some dream vision. The trip ended in a choreographed firework display by Esben Weile Kjær and Maja Malou Lyse. The mind boggles at the amount of planning and coordination that must have gone into planning these trips, of which there were only three. Bravo!

 – Art historian Louise Steiwer is one of Kunstkritikk’s regular contributors. Based in Copenhagen, she is also one of the forces behind the artist-run exhibition space OK Corral in Frederiksberg.

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