18 December

Get on a train to Paris! Artist Louise Jacobs presents her top three exhibitions of the year.

Zahna Siham Benamor, Leaving Everything for a Train to Paris, 2023. Documentation from performance, Arken, Ishøj. Photo: Emma Bo Sennels.

Zahna Siham Benamor, Leaving Everything for a Train to Paris, Arken, Ishøj

We were at Arken outside Copenhagen. Zahna Siham Benamor recited stylistically strong poetry in front of Apolonia Sokol’s paintings, surrounded by a crowd that looked like a Cannes press conference. What was the context for Benamor’s performance? Under an auditory magnifying glass, a mosaic of Paris took shape: nostalgic hedonism, the incurable psoriasis of late colonialism, fatal fates in big cities for idealists or opportunists, and the Seine’s veins pulsing with blood. What do we risk by running away from everything for a dream of a better life? I closed my eyes in front of the flashing cameras and listened to a voice I hadn’t heard since Yahya Hassan. The great thing about voices is that they can take you to places you didn’t realise you had to go. I’m thinking of leaving nothing for a train in the wrong direction.

Fathers Killing Fathers (Capercaillie), 2023. English porcelain, leather, mushroom, earrings, bamboo, paint, baseball, steel, oak, paper, 50 × 33 × 34 cm. Photo: Hulias.

Pat McCarthy, Paradise, Hulias, Oslo

Not unlike the hero Ghost Dog in the Jim Jarmusch film bearing that name, Pat McCarthy breeds pigeons on a rooftop in Brooklyn. So it makes sense that his exhibition at Hulias recalled the vertigo of New York with its pedestals and sculptural birds hovering above layers of fanzines. It also included a bubblegum-flavoured condom filled with vegan foie gras. When I arrived, there was still some cognac left to wash it down, set out on a table alongside sample nibbles and a kind of stork as a centrepiece. Who is the more perverted: the people who eat vegan foie gras or the rackelwilds who penetrate each other’s throats? Or the simple fact that real foie gras is a culinary tradition that involves force-feeding geese until they are so fat they can’t fly? Paradise was an elegy to wingbeats and to humanity, singing a song densely packed with other words pointing in many sensory directions.

Jakob Brugge, Team Player, 2023. Installation view. Photo: Brian Kure.

Jakob Brügge, Team Player, C.C.C. Gallery, Copenhagen

I am a sucker for a certain type of conceptual art that has haunted me ever since I realised it was a genre only a select specially ordained few can master. It’s nice to see Brügge, a graduate of the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, showing what the magic of concepts can still achieve through form. The sailor suits hanging on the wall were each caught up in their own repetitive pattern; they don’t want to meet. Suddenly, there I was: applauding, getting that really happy feeling inside – the way art used to make me feel without all the big questions about why.

– Louise Jacobs (b. 1987) is an artist based in Oslo. She was educated at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and as a modern dancer at Alvin Ailey in New York. Her first novel, Via Florentin, was published by Flamme Forlag in 2022.

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