22 December

A visit to a flower shop was one of the strangest encounters of the year, reports Kunstkritikk’s editor in Denmark.

Kristoffer Akselbo, o MONSTER A.S.I.C.S., Inter.pblc, Copenhagen, 2023. Photo: Peal.

Kristoffer Akselbo, o MONSTER A.S.I.C.S., Inter.pblc, Copenhagen

The monster in the flower shop was a strange experience. During this 48-hour performance, the street door was kept open, day and night, and the monster looked after the shop alone. I went in, but kept my distance – fully aware that it was Akselbo, but he gets me every time. At one point, the monster got up and moved towards me. Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and most of all Leo Carax’s fantasy thriller Holy Motors all flew through my head, especially the scene where the monstrous character wrecks a fashion shoot and eats all the bouquets. But the green monster in the shop at Nørrebro just knelt down and, using its hairy fingers, wrapped an orange flower up in paper and handed it to me. In the days that followed, I wondered if the one-eyed gerbera daisy in the vase wasn’t looking back at me.

Julie Falk, Détournement, 2022, still from film, 2:46 min, loop.

Julie Falk, No Core, All all all, Copenhagen

In this age of emotions running high, you would think that the spectrum was broader and the nuances more numerous, but all too often things end up with everything being written in capital letters, in black or white, them or us. Falk’s precise, porous sculptural idiom crowbarred its way in between all this. Using large hollow cardboard rolls and a perforated seashell, she posed basic questions to the art of sculpture, questions that also extended to the individual and the possibilities of art as such, with or without a core. The video work depicted a woman perambulating the helicopter landing strip atop Copenhagen’s main hospital. A dark silhouette in a long coat and flapping trouser legs. A détournement of the hospital and of the artist’s own afflicted body. Hardcore no core.

Installation view, Bad Timing, or How to Write History Without Objects, Den Frie Udstillingsbygning, Copenhagen, 2023. Ulla von Brandenburg, 5 Spaces, 2023; Atiéna R. Kilfa, Déja Vu, 2022. Photo: Den Frie Udstillingsbygning.

Bad Timing, or How to Write History Without Objects, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen. Curated by Anna Weile Kjær

I often find myself yearning for group exhibitions that are suffused by a genuine sense of curiosity, the kind where you feel that the curator has indeed seen, listened, and thought – and is also unafraid of engaging with the art. Bad Timing was one such exhibition. Ulla von Brandenburg’s textile walls ran throughout the rooms, evoking changes in mood and surprising encounters with, for example, Atiéna R. Kilfa’s enigmatic miniature staircase. The exhibition’s theme was typical of our day – the invisible women of art history – but the approach was original and the result vivid and perfectly imperfect, as things are when chances are taken. Full of Days at Charlottenborg (Julia Rodrigues and Francesca Astesani) and Butterfly at Arken (Esben Weile Kjær) were other exhibitions from the past year that were unafraid of their own idiosyncrasies or prominent interventions. I’m hoping this heralds an opening of the floodgates. More courage and love in exhibitions now.

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