7 December Nanna Friis

See which of this year’s exhibitions Nanna Friis thinks was the kind of fiction that makes reality clearer.

Barbara Hammer, I Was / I Am, 1973, 16-mm film transferred to video, 5′35″, still. Courtesy of the Estate of Barbara Hammer and KOW, Berlin.

A Fire in My Belly, Julia Stoschek Foundation, Berlin

Billionaire heiress Julia Stoschek collects art (primarily in video form), has digitised much of her collection, and also presents it in spectacular settings in Berlin and Düsseldorf – a bizarre commingling of the art collector’s ego and unusual generosity. A Fire in My Belly offered an opportunity to watch movies for half a day without ever finishing. Works by Barbara Hammer, Peggy Ahwesh, Bernadette Corporation, and P. Staff were some of the very best among all the really good exhibits there (incidentally, Anne Imhof’s was the most boring). It felt simple and special to have all these costly spaces darkened into anonymous cinemas – to immerse myself in images and just be spoon-fed the richly variegated language that video can be when it catches our eyes and captivates our minds.

Tora Schultz, Nose out of Joint (Pinocchio 1940), 2021, Bent pine wood, belt buckles.

Tora Schultz, Stand Hard, Bizarro, Copenhagen

Everything in Tora Schultz’s exhibition merged to form a dense ball of something hardcore and funny and right: the ambivalence of the title, the cock-columnar pillars of power, childishness as the well-known side effect of demonstrative masculinity. Linoleum looks like the authorities’ abodes and columns are authoritarian, but the colours had more of a day-care vibe. And then there was Pinocchio, the ultimate play motif, as a rather brutal strap-on to alternately hone and puncture the exhibition’s balancing of the massive and the fragile. Stand Hard demonstrated that a small space can be a perfectly precise statement burnished to complete clarity and still look like hints and allusions.

Aske Olsen, How to Disappear Completely, Arcway Nightlands Connector Jennifee-See Alternate, Copenhagen 2021.

Aske Olsen, How to Disappear Completely, Arcway Nightlands Connector Jennifee-See Alternate, Copenhagen

Two nights in a row, Aske Olsen performed his “comedy about fame and surveillance” in a packed basement filled with more or less the kind of people the play was about. The text was placed in the hands of three actors who read from the script, acting poorly and well in effortless oscillation, and their lines repeatedly found themselves poised in some un-caricatured place between fun and truth. The atmosphere and the performance were sloppy in the way that pampered snowflakes with a penchant for art and anxiety can be. Theatrical content stuck to the graffiti-decorated walls (and to the audience’s self-conscious 2021 outfits) and became the kind of fiction that makes reality clearer without simplifying it.

Nanna Friis is an art historian and a regular contributor to Kunstkritikk.

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