Which exhibitions, events and publications were most important, incisive or poignant in 2016? In Kunstkritikk’s best of cavalcade, invited guests joint our own writers in summing up the year 2016 in art. December 13 features a contribution made by the group SQ (short for Squash Club), which comprises Jonas Frederiksen, Louis Scherfig and Frederik Worm. The trio met each other at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and have worked together since 2013. They recently completed the film Running Your Dad Off Days and are now preparing the shooting schedule for their next film, which will be shot in Munich and Dakar over the course of 2017.
Antek Walczak, Electronic Arts Intermix, NYC.
If you missed Antek Walczak’s exhibition at Real Fine Arts in Brooklyn, you have the chance to experience Walczak’s four films Dynasty, Paris From Behind, Run With Zeros and Risques Du Metier via Electronic Arts Intermix and a screening room session. All four films were made between 1998 and 2000. A postcard from the anarchic shoemaker in Downtown NYC and the best possible proof of the film medium’s political potential, subcultural superiority and keen, all-seeing eye. Adieu au langage – we’ll follow suit!
Henri Rousseau, Le Douannier Rosseau. L´innocence archaïque, Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
If the Vikings had remained heathens, Rousseau would have ended up as their court painter. This self-taught painter, customs officer and friend of Alfred Jarry pushes his hand into the canvas and pulls the perspective flat, right into your face! Henri Rousseau: “Here you go; here’s the map, enter my game!” You cannot help but have faith in art after such a serving – real perpetual motion food.
Scandinavian Institute, NYC.
In Chinatown on the corner of Eldridge St. and Canal St. you will find the Scandinavian Institute. Ambassador Boeskov opened the doors to us and talked to us about his self-declared project: to reclaim/protect/present the very best of Scandinavian culture in Manhattan. We were met with love, loss of control, real-time hustling and fearless poetic self-organisation. Necessary, inspirational – and critical of professional gangbangin’, cheerleaders and #newdanishart.
The Viking Fortress of Borgring, Køge.
Once again archeological truffle hogs have sniffed out a forgotten Viking fortress. While the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde is sinking into the sea, the team (from Museum Sydøstdanmark and Aarhus University) at Borrering in Køge are digging their way down into the story of the recently discovered Viking fortification. 1,050 year-old folk art spiced up by present-day depictions of the archaeologists portrayed as Netflix heroes. Good job – and kudos to Danmarks Brogcenter for using fan fiction as a state authorised vehicle for the presentation of history and culture!
The discovery of Tollund Man’s big toe.
You’re driven by passion when you hang on to the Tollund Man’s big toe. It is said that the conservator Brorson Christensen carried the 2,400 year-old digit on him at all times. It has now surfaced among his widow’s possessions after having been “lost” for fifty years.
Terence Mallick, Knight of Cups, 2015.
How does one film a film without a script? Against the backdrop of Los Angeles we find this story of a silent Hollywood screenwriter (Christian Bale) walking through the countless circular movements of life. They are presented in eight chapters named after Tarot cards: The Hermit, The Hanged Man, etc. The visionary strength of the film is the result of the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s playful camerawork, prompting a symbiotic process of improvisation where the camera and the actors take it in turns to follow each other’s impulses in a film where each actor was supposedly only given a single stanza from a range of poems to work on. Ultimately you are free to decide whether you’ll focus on the film’s soft-core religious undercurrents or on the constant, hard-core sophistication of its atmosphere. One thing is certain: existential crises have rarely been more inspiring than here!
Children of the Sun. A Pictorial Anthology from Germany to California 1883–1949 is a lavishly illustrated account of the German social reform movements Wandervogel, Naturmensch, Lebensreform and Monte Verita. Anyone interested in counterculture, parallel bohemianism and self-organisation at a deeper level than mere grant applications can find inspiration here!
The book about Alighiero e Boetti weaves its way through his life in a beautiful and personal manner. It is written by his wife, Annemarie Sauzeau Boetti, who followed Boettie’s art right from the outset. In an intimate mixture of biography, artistic timeline, critical study and Arte Povera she relates various anecdotes, for example of how Boetti split his identity in two by inserting a simple “e”, about his One Hotel in Kabul and about the production of his woven map of the world. A fantastic title for a beautiful portrait of an equally fantastic artistic oeuvre.
Reyner Banham, Scenes in America Deserta, MIT press, 1989
Forget about Hollywood and Paramount Ranch. Banham begins his travelogue by getting out of his car between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the city of Zzxyz, without shutting the car door after him to avoid disturbing anyone. This is rock-solid geo-poetry about the American deserts, written by a critic of architecture who is not afraid of recognising that theory will always be crushed by poetry in the end, just as the gold diggers had to admit defeat and leave the desert.