23 December

In 2022, art was at its best in the dark or seen through the hole of a doughnut, says Kunstkritikk’s editor in Denmark.

Installation view, Mira Winding og Aske Olsen, BIG, inter.pblc, 2022. Photo: Inter.pblc.

Mira Winding and Aske Olsen, BIG, Inter.pblc, Copenhagen

Everyone chases the zeitgeist. And while dull tools commercialise it or make art-as-communication about it long after, the really sharp ones whirl it around in a wild dance while the sparks still fly. They hold it out at arm’s length, letting us glimpse it wriggling at the edges. This year, one such exhibition was BIG. According to the exhibition text, it stands for “Babe It’s Good,” which might well be the name of an agency making music videos or creative campaigns. Really, it’s all about finding a name that coincides with what you do: “I don’t want to be commercials, music videos, or a PDF with visual research. I want to be stupid and good-looking, a kind nobody in a random bar that some random person can fall in love with.” From branding to love, zeitgeist is also about what you name the rose. I sincerely hope that Winding and Olsen retain the ability to step through the looking glass so that I will continue to have the opportunity to feel my fluttering nerve endings through the hole of a doughnut.

Edvard Munch, Blood Waterfall, 1915-16, oil on canvas, 30×79 cm. Photo: Munchmuseet.

Edvard Munch, Infinite, Munch Museum, Oslo

Having watched Tracey Emin’s gigantic Mother being lifted down in front of the Munch Museum, where it now stands, I entered the new museum for the first time. Once inside the collection exhibition, I immediately forgot the sight of the 15 tonnes of bronze hanging in the air just moments ago, or of The Scream shamelessly plastered across coasters in the shop. “Hey! What’s up?!!” the paintings shouted out, right into my face: Are you ready for some electric moonlight in the summer night? Is illness the very definition of punk? And why is Munch the only one to see that the Norwegian rivers and streams are, in fact, gushing with blood? When I ran into Kunstkritikk’s Swedish editor afterwards, it was clear that Munch had dealt him the same devastatingly delightful uppercut.

Pierre Huyghe, Offspring, 2018. Courtesy of the artist; Pinault Collection. Credit image: Aurélien Mole. ©Pierre Huyghe.

Pierre Huyghe, Offspring, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg

I honestly don’t know if the museum even realised quite how radical this exhibition was. Huyghe can be experienced in many places, but only on a few occasions. And only in Paris have I seen him in this frayed, dark version – which I actually think is the real one. The exhibition was so dark that moving around it was downright dangerous. I had no sense of the boundaries of the room, or of the blurred transition between selected works from the last decade. The installation featuring coloured clouds of smoke and shamelessly playing variations on Eric Satie’s famous piano pieces basically ought to be too much. But in the hands of contemporary art’s chief poet, it became a scene of musical composting, a poetic over-fermentation which seduced me right there in the dark basement of the most beautiful museum in the Nordics.

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