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The war in Ukraine and international biennials put their mark on our list of most popular articles for 2022. 

The Russian Pavilion in Venice.

A Necessary Letter

Last year, the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennial was an empty, closed, and heavily guarded building, a grim reminder of the war in Ukraine. Both the curator and the artists pulled out of the biennial in reaction to the war. But as Anders Kreuger points out in his commentary, which is the most read article in our International Edition in 2022, the pavilion’s close ties to a warmongering Russian elite were conspicuously left out in curator Raimundas Malašauskas’s letter of resignation.

Simone Leigh, Sovereignty, U.S. Pavilion: Façade, 2022. Thatch, steel, and wood; Satellite, 2022. Bronze, 7.3 × 3 × 2.3 m, Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo: Timothy Schenck © Simone Leigh.

Beauty and War

The second-most read article of 2022 is our Danish Editor Pernille Albrethsen’s review of the national pavilions at the 59th Venice Biennial, in which she argues that the Ukrainian exhibitions, and especially the Ukrainians present in Venice, gave the pavilions a concrete geopolitical significance that was impossible to ignore.

Isabelle Graw. Photo: Rob Kulisek.

It’s Complicated

Our interview series with contemporary thinkers still proves to be popular. In third place in 2022, we find Live Drønen’s interview with art historian Isabelle Graw, who wants us to stop idealising friendship.

Baan Noorg, The Rituals of Things,installation view, Documenta Halle, 2022. Photo: Nicolas Wefers.

Make Friends, Not Art

“The entire Documenta is an exercise in horizontality, which is good for both our backs and our egos,” states Sinziana Ravini in her review of this year’s much debated instalment of Documenta.

The flag of Ukraine.

The Art Community Must Stand Up Against the War

On 25 February, the morning after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it seemed impossible just to go on with business as usual. Consequently, we postponed the publication of planned content and published this editorial in order to take in the dramatic situation, and to stand with the Ukrainian people and artists and cultural workers in Ukraine.

Britto Arts Trust, PAKGHOR – the social kitchen, 2022, Documenta 15, Kassel, June 19, 2022. Photo: Raluca Voinea.

Never Mind the Germans

In this commentary, Andreas Schlaegel provided historical and political perspectives on the scandals surrounding Documenta 15 in Kassel. “Looking back, as hardly a day goes by without an article about the increasingly scandalised Documenta, it reads like a page from the right-wing playbook: first, gain control over who gets to declare what constitutes anti-Semitism by means of the German Parliament’s BDS resolution; second, use the claim against anyone who challenges the dominant hierarchies,” he wrote.

Catherine Malabou.

Against Verticality

Another popular interview with a contemporary thinker was Sinziana Ravini’s conversation with philosopher Catherine Malabou about her anarchic philosophy which questions the need to be led in order to survive.

Uffe Isolotto, We Walked the Earth, 2022. Installation view, The Danish Pavillion, Venice. Photo: Ugo Carmine.

The Human Tragedy

In his review of Uffe Isolotto’s morbid blockbuster of an exhibition in the Danish Pavilion, Kunstkritikk’s Norwegian Editor Stian Gabrielsen stated that We Walked the Earth was first and foremost about a longing for feedback.

Jon Rafman, Counterfeit Poast, 2022. 4K stereo video, 23:39 min, film still.

The Old New Wave

Reviewing two Jon Rafman shows in Berlin, Kristian Vistrup Madsen speculated that they signal a return of post-internet amorality.

Anders Sunna, Illegal Spirits of Sápmi, 2022. Photo: Michael Miller.

Indigenous Monument

Although the Sámi Pavilion was a historical recognition of Indigenous sovereignty, our Swedish Editor Frans Josef Petersson found that the exhibition demonstrated a surprisingly traditional approach to the idea of a pavilion.

Haig Aivazian, They May Own the Lanterns But We Have the Light, 2022. Video still.

Free the Synapses!

Titled Still Present!, the 12th instalment of the Berlin Biennial, curated by the Berlin-based French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, aimed to show the effects of European colonialism in a broad sense. In his review, Nicholas Norton argued that the biennial overlooked the fact that art doesn’t need to be politically didactic.

Precious Okoyomon, To See The Earth Before the End of the World, 2022. Installation view from La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams. Photo: Roberto Marossi.

We Are the Ones Who Make History

The main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennial was promoted as the first to predominantly feature women and non-binary artists. The Milk of Dreams was an effective and timely problematisation of the hierarchies in art, I contend in my review.

Marcel Duchamp, Coeurs Volants, 1936/1961, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphic Collection, Archive (Library) © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart / Association Marcel Duchamp / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022 / bpk. Photo: Axel Schneider.

Marcel, Ma Belle

“No one interested in Duchamp – no, no one interested in art – no, no one with a heart – should miss Marcel Duchamp at the MMK in Frankfurt,” Olof Olofsson wrote in his review of the largest Duchamp exhibition in twenty years.

A woman holds up a sign depicting a picture of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Photo by Delil Souleiman / AFP.

Be Her Voice

Iran’s cries are being heard all over the world. Is the hope for change alive? Frans Josef Petersson surveyed twelve artists, critics, and curators with ties to Iran who are active in the Nordic art world about their experience of the ongoing protests and what consequences they think the movement will have.

Mickael Marman, Porträt des jungen Künstlers als Schauspieler mit Identitätsproblemen, 1998–2022. Diverse media on canvas, 50 x 60 cm. Photo: Erik Mowinckel.

Tribulations of a Child Actor

“In a field where visibility is what many crave most of all, it is interesting to see an exhibition that addresses the discomfort of being recognised,”wrote Nora Joung about Mickael Marman’s exhibition Heimweh at Centralbanken in Oslo.

Tora Schultz, Devil’s Contract, 2021. Dumb waiter (stainless steel, motor, chain, gears), modified red Prada stilettos, red lacquer. 400 x 45 x 50 cm. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Sexy as a Prada Stiletto in a Dumb Waiter

Surrealism was revived in 2022 with several great shows taking a fresh look at its history and relevance today. In Copenhagen, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art contributed to the trend with the exhibition Another Surrealism. Louise Steiwer found it wonderful: “as complicated, deep, cheeky, bold, and sexy as Tora Schultz’s red patent leather Prada stilettos.”

Anna Estarriola, Interview – Auditioning for Eternity, 2022. Photo: Pirje Mykkänen.

Living It Up

The exhibition ARS22 at Kiasma in Helsinki was accused of spreading a load of hot air, but Helen Korpak was convinced by the way it addressed human longing for meaning, community, and spirituality.

Les Restes Suprêmes, theater piece and performative installation directed by Dorcy Rugamba in collobaration with Nathalie Vairac, Malang Sonko, Francois Sauveur & Marc Soriano. Photo: Johannes Sivertsen.

A Biennial for the Future

“Here, surrounded by the context addressed in the exhibition, it is easier to believe that art can change the world, that we can learn from each other, and that the future belongs to Africa,” Louise Steiwer wrote in her review of 14th edition of the Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal.